2015 Honda CR-V Limited First Drive

With a refreshed design, the 2015 Honda CR-V stands out from the crowd.

What It Is
An affordable compact SUV that is great for families.
Best Thing
Refreshed design makes it stand out from the previous model.
Worst Thing
Clunky ride and unappealing infotainment system layout.
Snap Judgment
The 2015 Honda CR-V offers great value for the price.

For the new model year, Honda has significantly updated the CR-V, from adding new safety technology to refreshing the exterior design. And while this wasn't a full redesign, the difference between this new model and the outgoing one is significant.

The Honda CR-V is one of the top-selling small SUVs, and one of the safest on the market. However, one title it hasn't held--at least in our book--is that it isn't that great of a drive. Sure it will get you from point A to B, but it didn't have much to offer outside of that. For the new model year, that has changed. Not only has Honda added an extra trim level, but nearly $2,000 worth of technology and safety features. You might think that means a higher starting price, but no. The base model starts at $24,570, a mere $200 increase over the previous model.

We wanted to get behind the wheel and see what the 2015 Honda CR-V was all about. Read on to learn what we thought.

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Right off the bat, the new exterior design grabs your attention. While the front fascia has been completely redone and offers a more aggressive and masculine appearance, we would have liked the rear to have received the same treatment. The all-new Limited model offers a striking wheel design that separates it from the rest of the lineup.

This new model is clearly a step up in terms of exterior styling and differentiation from the rest of the lineup, and compared to other small SUVs, the Honda CR-V offers design elements that make it immediately recognizable. If the exterior was this exciting and fresh, we had hopes that Honda had updated the interior. It was time to get behind the wheel and find out.

Sitting Down

While Honda has received some negative feedback on previous models in its lineup for having a mish-mash of materials and quality, the automaker worked hard to improve the new CR-V. And it shows. Inside, there are higher-quality materials that are cohesive and no longer feel disconnected. Added to that, the use of hard-touch plastics is at a bare minimum. Seats were comfortable, supportive, and it was easy to find that ideal driving position.

However, there were some interior changes that we weren't a huge fan of. The infotainment system juts out from the dash, and while it may make it easier to reach the controls, it offers an unattractive appearance. The navigation system was finicky, and wouldn't let us type in a house number when plugging in a destination, but when it came time to delete said destination, it was a breeze. But perhaps our least favorite part about the infotainment system was the lack of knobs. Only tiny buttons and a touch screen with two small knobs made up the controls. We also would have liked it if the top screen wasn't so deep into the dash.

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We were impressed with the improved quality of the ride on the 2015 Honda CR-V, thanks to the updated CVT transmission. No longer can you feel every nuance of the CVT, and during the drive, we forgot about it altogether. While that aspect may have been improved, the CR-V has a stiff suspension, and we felt every bump and road imperfection.

The cabin was quiet, and engine noise barely permeated into the cabin. We did get some road noise, but turning up the radio just a hair helped us tune it out. Driving around Southern California in a mix of highway and city streets let us get a feel for what the new CR-V had to offer. It handled very well, and tight corners were no issue. It feels a little larger on the road than the outgoing model, but it doesn't impede the overall driving performance. Acceleration is not as quick as we would have liked, but it gets up to speed relatively quickly. Brakes are solid and confidence-inducing as we had quite a few sudden stops on our drive.

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When looking at value for the price, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the 2015 Honda CR-V. But does that mean it's the best on the market? It has its pros and cons, just like every model, and those will be unique to the customer. However, the CR-V is one of the best-selling compact SUVs on the market, and for good reason. For us, we loved the improved CVT, exterior and interior styling, and the new safety technology. We just wish the ride was smoother and the infotainment system was less bulky and more streamlined. While we had a short time behind the wheel, we're interested to get behind the wheel again for a longer evaluation.

Basic Specs

2.4-liter i-VTEC CVT, AWD, 185-hp, $32,770, 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy

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the car not bad,but there's no such thing as optimal, unvaried conditions. We'd encounter substantial headwinds, big temperature variations, and even larger elevation changes,www.toptrafficsafety.com not to mention stop-and-go traffic and unavoidable intersections.

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