Honda has unveiled its fifth-generation CR-V crossover, which rides on the same compact global platform as the Honda Civic and gets its first turbocharged engine as part of the package.
The popular crossover becomes a bit bigger and more aggressive, and there will be a lot of them with assembly in three plants to meet demand for what executives think could become the best-selling vehicle in the Honda lineup.
The 2017 CR-V made its global debut at an event in Detroit, where bales of hay were moved aside to reveal the new model with sharper lines, new LED headlamps and taillamps, and a wider overall stance to give it a tougher appearance. This generation also has a longer hood and wheelbase, short overhangs, and dual exhausts.
The vehicle is only 1.5 inches longer, but the wheelbase grew by 1.6 inches, which creates more room inside the cabin. It is also an inch taller.
The next generation continues to offer the carryover 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in the LX trim level and also adds the first turbo under the hood of a CR-V, a vehicle first introduced in 1997.
All EX and higher trim levels (which account for about 75 percent of sales) will share the 1.5-liter direct-injected DOHC turbo-four powerplant, which is also in the Civic. In the CR-V it's rated at 190 horsepower; both engines are mated to a continuously variable transmission.
There is also what initially appeared to be a mystery box on top of the 1.5-liter turbo. A quick call back to engineers revealed it to be a special resonator designed to absorb and attenuate induction noises caused by the turbocharger- something there is no room or likely need for in the Civic, whose owners may prefer a snortier note. Expect the CR-V to sound more grown-up.
Executives are not releasing expected mileage but are confident it will have the best EPA fuel economy in the segment. Ratings will be revealed closer to the December on-sale date, said Jeff Conrad, general manager of the Honda brand.
There are no current plans to offer a hybrid, Conrad said.
The new body and chassis are designed to give the CR-V handling more akin to the Civic but with a higher seating position and the ground clearance expected in a utility vehicle; the platform was modified to offer optional all-wheel drive.
The crossover has a front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension with specially tuned low-friction dampers, front and solid rear stabilizer bars, and electric power steering.
The new architecture provides a couple more inches of room in the back seat, and when the seats are folded down———the split rear ones fold flat———there is almost 10 inches of additional space.
Inside are more premium materials, including a nice woodlike trim and attractive leather seats. The infotainment system now accommodates Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and in a welcome move, the audio system replaces the sliding volume scale with a good old-fashioned knob.
The 2017 model has a number of new features, including the brand's first hands-free power liftgate and automatic shutter grille system for better aerodynamics. There is remote engine start, and the vehicle adds more of the Honda Sensing suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies, including blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, and auto high-beam headlights. Engineers expect the 2017 CR-V will get the highest safety ratings: an NCAP five-star overall vehicle score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
John Mendel, executive vice president for American Honda, said the CR-V is a pillar of the brand. Given how close the Accord, CR-V, and Accord are in sales, the new crossover could take the brand's sales crown with the all-new model and capacity at three plants (East Liberty, Ohio; Alliston, Ontario; and now Greensburg, Indiana) to ensure enough supply to meet anticipated demand, Conrad added.
Conrad said despite the trend to crossovers, many buyers still want a car, and hatchbacks are also growing in popularity. Expect an India launch by late next year.