The 2015 Honda CR-V is one of the best small crossovers in its class. Honda built the 2015 Honda CR-V to be frugal, easy to drive, comfortable, utilitarian, reliable and now its fairly handsome with a new nose. Not a bad combination.
The 2015 Honda CR-V has a new, direct-injected four-cylinder engine that makes 185 horsepower (the same horsepower as the previous engine) and 181 lbs-feet of torque, which is 18 additional lb-ft over the previous engine. Offered in front and all-wheel drive (AWD) all versions of the 2015 Honda CR-V come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Fortunately, the new CVT is quiet and it offers a good tradeoff between performance and economy. Equipped with AWD, the 2015 Honda CR-V can achieve 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. That’s top marks for the class. The front-drive version gets 1 mpg better throughout.
Acceleration is anything but blistering, it falls to the lower end of the performance spectrum. Slam your right foot down and you’ll hear the engine immediately rev high. It keeps revving in the higher rpm range until you let off allowing the CVT to catch up. Once you do, the engine is very mellow and rpms drop significantly. Passing power is pretty good, but you need to shove the accelerator all the way down to make things happen. It takes some getting used to, but under normal driving, the CVT works like a regular automatic transmission.
Winning some prestigious awards and accolades, you would think the 2015 Honda CR-V would have smooth sailing in this market. Unfortunately, the new CR-V garnered some negative press regarding their all-wheel drive (AWD) system. It is for this reason that I brought the 2015 Honda CR-V up to the snowy Rocky Mountains for some low traction testing.
Driving the 2015 Honda CR-V was surprisingly rewarding. Not because it’s fun (it’s not), but because of it being a comfortable, worry-free ride. Heavy wind, stinging snow, sleet and freezing conditions were no issue for the 2015 Honda CR-V. It felt confident and the ride was ideally dampened.
Then I encountered ice, slush and snow on the road.
Here’s Honda’s take regarding how its updated “Real Time AWD” works:
“The new Real Time AWD still uses a multi-plate clutch, similar to the clutches used in Honda automatic transmissions, to connect the driveshaft to the rear differential. But in place of the twin hydraulic pumps and ball cam mechanism used previously, the system now uses an electric motor driving a single hydraulic pump, which operates the clutch. The electric motor is controlled by the Intelligent Control System, which means that the system can actively apportion power based on the conditions.”
Simply put: it cuts power to the rear for maximum economy, if power is not needed. There are no buttons to push, no levers to pull, it’s all automatic. This new system is lighter, faster to react and more intelligent than the Real Time AWD system it replaces.
“For efficiency, the electric motor activating the hydraulic pump is idled when not required, further reducing drag within the system and helping to reduce energy consumption. Compared to the previous model’s Real Time 4WD, the new Real Time AWD design weighs 17 percent less (approximately 36 pounds total system weight) and has 60 percent less rotational drag compared to the previous-generation’s Real Time 4WD system.
Unlike some four-wheel-drive systems that require the driver to select a drive mode based on the perceived need, Real Time AWD’s automatic operation means the system is always ready to transfer torque to the rear wheels, allowing the driver to focus more on driving when situations are demanding.” – – Honda Motors
How did it perform? Not too shabby at all. It never got stuck and never slid out of control, even when I attempted snowy donuts.
It went everywhere I pointed it with only one exception. On a rock-filled path, the CR-V could not go up a six-inch high rock that was coated with ice. To be honest, very few AWD vehicles can. Still, the AWD system was not as forthright as the AWD system on the 2015 Toyota RAV4 (we tested them toe to toe for a video).
It was hard to tell if the traction was being aided by the AWD system or the excellent mud and snow tire our tester came with.
The 6.8-inches of ground clearance sits in that Goldilocks realm of not too high and not too low. Regular street driving feels surefooted, there is little wallowing and only a hint of tire noise enters the cabin.
Speaking of the cabin, the interior went from mediocre to one of the best in class. Everything is well sorted and many of the controls have been simplified. The seats are very comfortable, front and rear. A full sized adult can fit behind another when seated in the back seat.
Cargo room is impressive, but not best-in-class with 35.2 cubic feet behind the second row and 70.9 cu-ft of cargo room with the rear seats folded. Useable space is impressive with a low load-in height, easy to fold seats and generous storage compartments.
Base MSRP is $23,320 with our fully loaded tester, the 2015 Honda CR-V Touring AWD, coming in at $32,770. The value-to-component tradeoff is impressive. For the same price, you can get a loaded Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson or Nissan Rogue (among others) but few can go toe to toe with the 2015 Honda CR-V.
It’s just that good.
Speaking of Honda crossovers…