FIRST DRIVE: 2015 Honda CR-V

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Honda and Toyota invented the compact SUV market with the CR-V and RAV-4 when they showed up here in 1995. Ever since, the rest of the world has caught on and caught up, so the 2015 Honda CR-V gets a pretty significant refresh mid-cycle this time around, in an effort to make sure that Honda stays ahead of competitive vehicles from Ford, Jeep, Hyundai and Kia, who weren’t even players when the CR-V originally arrived.

We got in touch with some of the folks in the CR-V forum at the Temple of VTEC, and we had some interested parties when we posted we’d be driving the updated CR-V on our Facebook page. Everybody had excellent questions about the updates:

Standard equipment upgrades or additions for the LX: Alloys or steel?


The LX gets steel wheels.

EX buyers step up to a 17-inch alloy wheel that’s a lot more smartly styled than the 2014. Touring buyers get really sharp looking 18-inch alloys.

The interesting thing for CR-V buyers interested in a navigation system is this:

If you buy the EX trim, which includes the 7-inch Display Audio screen, Honda offers a $59 app that allows fully integrated navigation with the display. Fifty-nine bucks seems like a lot for an app, but if you can get away without spending $1,500 for satellite linked navigation on the EX-L, it’s a pretty fair deal.

The  new trim is the Touring, which goes head to head with the Titanium trim on the Ford Escape. Oddly enough, I drove an Escape Titanium to the drive last night, so I got a chance to experience both back-to-back. The Touring overtops the Titanium pretty significantly with a range of crash avoidance equipment like the Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Keeping Assist System and Adaptive Cruise Control as part of the Touring package.

Does it have a spare tire or flat kit? 


The Touring, at least, gets a temporary spare tire under the rear cargo area.


Ride comfort 


The 2015 Honda CR-V got some fairly substantial upgrades in the comfort department. The first thing you notice about the CR-V is how generous the proportions are inside. So generous, in fact, that this winter, Honda will debut the HR-V, which slots in a bit smaller than the original CR-V when it arrived here in 1995.

Up front, the McPherson strut setup is the same as the previous generation, but the geometry tread width increases by 15 mm and camber decreased by 0.5 degrees. The stabilizer bar and bushings were also changed for 2015 with new settings.

At the rear, the knuckle in the multi-link suspension system’s geometry was also changed to increase tread width and decrease camber by the same dimensions as the front.

To accommodate the new engine, the front subframe is all-new, and the EPS electronic power steering is brand new for 2015. It eliminates the constant energy draw of turning a hydraulic power steering pump.

Despite the changes, though, the CR-V is pretty familiar. It’s a remarkably comfortable ride.

75 mph highway wind and road noise. 

Lots of people asked about road noise, so we actually went out and measured it.

My friend Jay Holdash has a 2012 Honda CR-V, so I had him download the same decibel meter app I had and run his CR-V up to 75 miles per hour to get a reading.

Simultaneously, I ran the same test in the Ford Escape Titanium, and the 2015 Honda CR-V.

Jay’s 2012 Honda CR-V registered a peak of about 90dB at 75 miles per hour with the windows up and the radio off. The average was right around 80dB.

The 2015 CR-V recorded a max of 83dB, with an average of 77, making it quite a bit quieter than the last generation.

2015 Honda CR-V Noise Level
2015 Honda CR-V Noise Level

The Ford Escape Titanium is a little quieter still, with a maximum of 80dB, and an average of 73. However, it was raining pretty steadily at the time, and I had the wipers on.

Ford Escape Titanium Noise LEvel

Passing torque for a two lane road. 

Everybody’s biggest complaint with the earlier generation of the CR-V is the acceleration. On our Facebook wall, Brian Epro noted “Too many white knuckle experiences with this (in previous gen CR-V) led us to the next size up in crossovers so we could get an engine that could move the vehicle.”

Our decibel-measuring friend Jay Holdash had the same comment: “My 2011 CRV is a DOG when you floor it.”

Figuring out why is a pretty simple math equation. Moving 3,500 pounds with 181hp isn’t something that’s going to net blistering acceleration.

For 2015, the weight stays essentially the same, and so does the horsepower, which is the bad news.

The good news is that the “Earth Dreams Technology” (ugh…really?) 2.4-liter direct-injected DOHC i- VTEC inline 4-cylinder engine increases to 181 lb-ft of torque, an 11-percent jump. Again, it’s not winning any drag races, but it’s also less panic-inducing when pulling out on the highway.

Some work went into making the continuously variable transmission (CVT) shift more like a traditional five-speed, supposedly without the “rubber band” feel of other CVTs. Stuff the pedal to the mat, though, and you’re greeted with a monotonous engine note while the speed comes on. It’s better around town than most CVTs, but I haven’t been in one yet that doesn’t feel weird when you jump on the gas.

CVT Service Interval?

Under normal conditions, the service indicator will let you know when CVT fluid change is required. Footnote 4 in the manual suggests that under severe duty, the fluid should be changed at a 25,000 mile interval.

Dog friendly vehicle (replacing the Element in this matter?) 


I’m not a dog owner, but my guess is that anybody who does own dogs would rather have the Element’s plastic rear cargo area than the nicely carpeted area in the CR-V.

What it does offer, though, is generous space. It’s huge back there, and the tailgate opens nice and high so you won’t smash your head on it when you’re loading a dog crate back there.

Anything “Magic” about rear seats brought over from Fit?


Yes and no. The Magic Seat in the Fit essentially disappears into the floor for one reason: the fuel tank moved from the back of the car to the center, leaving a big empty space under there for a seat to fold into. That didn’t happen on this CR-V, but since the HR-V shares the Fit’s platform, we’d expect that feature to show up in the new model. 


The seat is super easy to fold from the cargo area, though. One lever folds the headrest and picks up the seat bottom, tumbling the entire seat into a near-flat load surface.

Sliding front arm rest, sliding cup holder cover? 

Yes on the sliding armrest. No on the sliding cupholder cover, but the cupholder is nicely configurable. There’s a removable insert that makes the console’s rectangular opening cup-shaped, but when you take it out, you’re left with a good-sized bin for sunglasses and other stuff. It also makes it much easier to keep clean.

Multiple USB ports for multiple passengers phones?


Under the armrest is a big storage bin, and inside, you’ll find an HDMI port, two USB ports and a 12-volt charge point.


I had a couple of other questions I couldn’t answer in my short drive, but I’ll get more time with the 2015 Honda CR-V this fall and I’ll report back with a full review.

Craig Fitzgerald

Craig Fitzgerald

Writer, editor, lousy guitar player, dad. Content Marketing and Publication Manager at