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Motoring: New CR-V a vast improvement

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 28th, 2011

The last time I tested a Honda CR-V was a few years ago, and I was left feeling less than impressed by it. In fact, I called it a toaster on wheels.

Fast forward to now and I was invited to try out the all-new 2012 CR-V in beautiful San Diego, California, to see if this new model has improved over the one it replaces. Let's find out.

From a styling point of view, it is a clear improvement over the old model. While from a distance the old and the new model look almost the same, when you get closer, you'll notice that every detail is different and is so for the better. The nose has a more up-class look; it's almost looking like its Acura MDX cousin, which is not a bad thing. Around the back, you get a lower opening lift gate that makes getting stuff in and out of the vehicle a lot easier, plus the bigger glass and new tail-lights make it look more attractive than before.

The interior is another vast improvement over the old model. This new interior looks a lot more up-class than before, and it feels more spacious, even if the overall interior dimensions have not changed too much.

Not only does it look nicer, it's more convenient, too. To fold down the rear seats, all you have to do is pull a single lever in the trunk and the bottom of the seat springs forward and the backrest then slots down neatly behind it. Very clever.

An area where the changes are much more subtle is in its powertrain. You get a revised version of their old faithful 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine, which now produces 185-hp at a very high 7000-rpm, and 163 lb/ft of torque at 4300 rpm. You also still get a revised version of their old five-speed automatic gearbox. Why only five speeds when the competition is at six speeds or even more? Honda responded that this vehicle does just fine with this old, reliable set-up and that it is still the most fuel-efficient SUV in its class (9.2- litres/100km in the city, 6.6 on the highway). So if it works, why change it.

What didn't work very well was the old all-wheel drive system. It used to spin away its power before engaging its allwheel drive system. The new system is sensational. The very moment you step on the accelerator, the all-wheel drive system engages and you are propelled forward. Trust me, this is a quick vehicle, thanks to its clever allwheel drive system.

Out on the roads around San Diego, I also felt that this new CR-V is quieter than before. It rides much more comfortably and it handles a lot better than the previous model.

To show the differences between the new and old CR-V, Honda had provided a last-generation model CR-V for us to see the differences first hand. Driving both the old and the new version on the same roads in the same day really showed how much this vehicle has improved for the 2012 model year. So if you like the current CR-V, you'll love this new one.

The Canadian built CR-V is a popular vehicle in Canada. Even in this down economy, Honda has shifted 25,000 new CR-V in the last year. Honda is hoping to sell close to 30,000 units next year of this new model.

With pricing ranging from $26,000 to $36,000 for this much-improved CR-V, it should do well in our market. If you're in the market for a new SUV, you should take a close look at this new CR-V. But you'll have to wait a bit, since the 2012 CRV won't go on sale until January.
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