Honda CR-V ›› 2020 ›› 2020 Honda CR-V
Overview (Final Score: 91)
The 2020 Honda CR-V has aged quite well since its last full makeover in model year 2017. By comparison to its peers, the CR-V still offers value, size, efficiency, and reputation as its main attractions. Honda also makes no big missteps with the CR-V that could drive possible buyers away.
This two-row, five-passenger crossover is among the top-selling non-truck vehicles in America for good reason. The value of the CR-V is enormous. The size of the CR-V is perfect for a family of three or four. The CR-V is a perfect vehicle for a family with a vacation home they drive to frequently. The 2020 CR-V is an outstanding commuter vehicle with EPA ratings up to 38 MPG Combined (Hybrid trim). And the best thing about the CR-V is that it is a great vehicle to be behind the wheel of. It's a very satisfying daily driver.
With a starting price of around $26K, the Honda CR-V is a vehicle that screams value. Our tester was a top-trim Touring AWD with an as-tested price of $35,870. The CR-V comes in four trims and price levels. New for 2020 is a fifth hybrid trim that we are very excited about and will cover separately. Aside from the hybrid, all Honda CR-Vs have the same turbocharged engine and smooth CVT transmission, meaning there is no low-power base engine to avoid.
What We Love About the 2020 Honda CR-V
What We Don't Love About the 2020 Honda CR-V
Exterior View (9/10)
If you look at a CR-V as a crossover and see problems from the outside you may be the only one. The CR-V is lovingly crafted to offend nobody shopping for a two-row family crossover. The grill is not offensive. The rear end is either improved or we are getting used to it. One thing is for sure. Honda's CR-V must look the way a two-row crossover should look. After all, it was the first one, and is the top seller to private owners. Does the CR-V set out hearts on fire with its good looks? No, it does not. There are better-looking crossovers in its class. First and foremost, the Mazda CX-5.
Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (10/10)
Inside, the CR-V is designed for easy operation. The conventionally-powered trims have a familiar gear selector sticking out of the dash. The hybrid has a different selector that is button-operated and saves some space (which you see in the image above). That is the direction all of Honda's products are trending and it doesn't bother us one bit.
The seats in our top trim were very comfortable. With power adjustment and heat, the leather-covered seats seemed to fit this six-foot, 195-pound tester and his taller adult boys perfectly. Frankly, the entire vehicle seemed to fit us very well. The CR-V is laid out with an excellent amount of space for every passenger and also packs a class-leading cargo volume. Check out our image of the CR-V packed to the gills on a moving trip. And under the huge cargo area's floor is a compact spare tire.
We like how everything in the CR-V just makes sense. The infotainment is simple to operate. The door locks, seat controls, and all that jazz just fall to hand. Would we like a tuner knob on the infotainment screen? Sure, but Honda may be keeping those just to give reviewers one thing to complain about. Nothing else is missing. Well, maybe a head-up display is missing, but do you really want to spend the extra money? The steering wheel heater button in our top-trim CR-V made us happy. No need to buy the Acura model.
We did find the center console to be a bit busy. It has an armrest, and multiple compartments to configure. A simpler design would have suited our taste better. Perhaps we just didn't understand the console's flaps and trap doors during our week of testing. It was not a deal-breaker.
Can we complain just a bit about interior trim? To this seasoned reviewer, wood inside a vehicle looks ridiculous in 2020. It makes no difference at all if it is the most perfectly-produced, rarest-on-Earth wood made from sustainable green methods (did you like that contradiction?). Wood looks dumb in cars, and the top trim of our CR-V had it on the doors and dash. Who is the target audience that Honda thinks wants wood in a CR-V? Let's update the interior trim Honda. Every premium brand has moved to fake or real carbon fiber or fake or real aluminum. Join the club.
Honda's technology is impressive and has been for a decade. We love the Honda Sensing driver assist suite. We do find the forward collision warning a bit over-reactive, but we can live with it. Honda's infotainment is modern and it works. Could it be a little snappier? Perhaps. We'd give Honda a 10/10 for technology except that Hyundai, GM, and BMW just set the bar. All three brands now offer wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Honda, that is the new benchmark for a 10/10 in Tech. We can't wait to try yours when you are ready!
Fuel Economy (10/10)
CR-Vs we test typically exceed their EPA Combined Estimate of 29 MPG for AWD trims. We are happy with 30 mpg in a vehicle this size and with these capabilities. However, the new CR-V Hybrid earns a fantastic 38 MPG Combined estimate. Wowza! We cannot wait to try one. All CR-Vs use regular fuel to keep costs down.
Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (6/10)
Honda has a reputation as a reliable brand. The company has a long history of being sought-after in the used vehicle market. However, the past transmission glitches of the V6 Accords and Odyssey vehicles spoiled the fun a bit. Most recently, Honda has had a bit of a problem with gasoline diluting the oil of its 1.5-turbocharged engines. Let's forget our own opinions and look to CR-V owner reports. At Consumer Reports, the CR-V has bounced between a 3/5 and a 4/5 for reliability based on owner data. Not bad, but not as good as some of the CR-V's peers. CarComplaints went so far as to stamp the CR-V with its "Beware of the Clunker" warning in 2017. That is the same generation as this 2020 CR-V. We think Honda has solved the problem that caused that warning. JD Power's vehicle dependability study ranks Honda below average. The CR-V's reliability is a mixed bag. Hence, our 6/10 score.
IIHS has fully tested the 2020 CR-V and the crossover earned its Top Safety Pick designation. Some trims had better headlight ratings than others. Who cares? A Top Safety Pick deserves a 10/10 score in our book.
In the context of affordable, two-row family crossovers, we feel the CR-V is a perfect performance benchmark for this segment. If you drive like an adult, the CR-V always has ample power. And best of all, you get it in the CR-V's normal drive mode. No need to be hitting "Sport" every time you enter. The 1.5-turbo engine is a gem, and the Honda CVT transmission is one of the best in the business. We find the drivetrain to be ideal.
If you want to race around corners and pretend you are not in a family crossover, you will be disappointed by the CR-V. It's not a BMW X3. Thank goodness. Instead, it is a rewarding and comfortable vehicle to drive in all situations that adults will find themselves in. It is a great commuter vehicle. Very satisfying on the highway, and on open back roads a great touring vehicle if you are not wishing you were in a Subaru STI. Honda nailed the CR-V's steering and brakes. The 2020 CR-V is dialed in perfectly for its mission. Before you opt for a more expensive premium crossover, drive a CR-V and see if you like it. We test high-performance crossovers from time to time and appreciate them, but always come away wondering, "Why would I buy this instead of a CR-V and a Miata for the same total price?"
Pricing and Value (9/10)
If you adjust for inflation, CR-Vs have been getting less expensive over the years while offering double the power and fuel economy. Our $36K Touring trim had every option. From our perspective, that is a steal. What would we wish for if we could add to this deal? Maybe a better warranty. Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen have similar crossovers with dramatically better standard warranties. A bit of included maintenance would also be welcome. Toyota, Kia, and Hyundai all now offer years of no-added-cost maintenance.
Total Score and Competitive Comparison (73/80, 91%)
The 2020 Honda CR-V is a two-row crossover that defines its segment. Along with the RAV4 from Toyota, the CR-V is the benchmark for this type of vehicle. The CR-V has a hard to beat combination of space, comfort, performance, and technology. We would cross-shop the RAV4, the Mazda CX-5, and maybe the Hyundai and Kia offerings in this price range. Although each of those worthy competitors is good at a few of the things the CR-V excels at, none have the complete package the CR-V delivers in our opinion.
|LX 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||25150|
|EX 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||27660|
|EX-L 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||30150|
|Touring 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||FWD||33350|
|AWD LX 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||AWD||26650|
|AWD EX 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||AWD||29160|
|AWD EX-L 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||AWD||31650|
|AWD Touring 4dr SUV||4 Cylinder||AWD||34850|
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