Niche No More: The 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
The 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring.
Nine years ago, when I was launching TireKicker, small SUVs were just starting to catch on.  They had a nickname: "Cute-Utes".  And, if that sounds somewhat dismissive, well, I guess it was.  It suggested that they weren't really up to the task that, in those days, we assigned to Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes.

What a difference nine-tenths of a decade makes.  The landscape has changed so much that not only is the Honda CR-V outselling Explorers and Tahoes, it is, for the year so far, the fifth-best selling vehicle in the USA.

Side 7/8 view of 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring
2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring.
And it's a much bigger deal than that.  The CR-V is the best selling Honda, period.

Oh, heck. It's bigger than even that. If it weren't for the 2,079 additional Nissan Rogues that have found homes this year, the CR-V would be the best-selling vehicle in America that isn't a pickup truck.   If its name isn't F-150, Silverado, RAM or Rogue, the CR-V outsells it.

Fact of the matter is, the CR-V is very, very good.  And the all-new 2017 CR-V is the best one yet.  The first part is addition through subtraction.  Last year's 2.4-liter four is history, replaced by a 1.5-liter turbocharged unit that makes 190 horsepower compared to last year's 185, and that the EPA estimates will squeeze 27 miles out of every gallon of gasoline in the city and 33 on the highway (last year's numbers were 25/31).

Its road manners are impeccable.  During the heat wave that  just ended here in the Sacramento area, Mrs. TireKicker and I jumped in the CR-V on impulse and drove the 85 miles from our home to the California/Nevada state line at South Lake Tahoe.  That includes some winding two-lane roads and the 7,382-foot Echo Summit just before dropping into the Tahoe Basin.  The CR-V never put a foot wrong and its creature comforts never left me wanting a different car.

Beyond that, and I realize this is subjective, it's the best-looking CR-V yet.  The proportions are finally just right, and in contrast to what seems to be the latest in the historical cycle of Japanese styling excess, it's clean and unfussy.

Interior view of 2017 Honda CR-V AWD
2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring interior.

Our tester was the top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive Touring model.  $33,695 and in true Honda fashion, no options. With $900 added for destination and handling, a bottom line of $34,595.  And that buys you this:

  • Real-time AWD with intelligent control system.
  • Front and rear stabilizer bars.
  • Four-wheel antilock disc brakes.
  • Electronic brakeforce distribution.
  • Vehicle stability assist.
  • Brake assist.
  • Tire pressure monitoring.
  • LED daytime running lights.
  • Leather-trimmed seats.
  • Leather-wrapped shift knob and steering wheel.
  • Nine-speaker premium audio system.
  • Seven-inch color touchscreen.
  • Rear cross-traffic monitor.
  • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
  • SiriusXM Satellite Radio.
  • Pushbutton start.
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration.
  • 12-way power driver's seat.
  • Four-way power passenger's seat.
  • Heated front seats.
  • Rear console vents.
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror.
  • Power windows and door locks.
  • Lighted vanity mirrors.
  • HomeLink.
  • Electronic parking brake.
  • Power moonroof.
  • 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Automatic on-off headlights.
  • LED headlights and taillights.
  • Fog lights.
  • Variable intermittent rain-sensing windshield wipers.
  • Blind spot information system.
  • Heated power door mirrors with turn signals.
  • Hands-free power tailgate,
  • Remote engine start.
  • Smart entry.
  • Security system.
  • Walk-away auto locking.
  • Capless fuel filler.
  • Roof rails.
  • Dual chrome exhaust finishers.
  • Active cruise control with low-speed follow.
  • Collision mitigation braking.
  • Forward collision warning.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Lane keeping assist system.
  • Road departure mitigation.

Again, all standard for $34,595, delivery charges included.  Five years ago, that was an Acura equipment list.  Ten years ago, a Mercedes list with stuff that didn't exist yet on it.  Now, it's what comes with a CR-V Touring.

This....is progress.  And the CR-V earns its place near the top of the sales charts.