Last week the ACEEE honored Accord Hybrid and Honda CR-V Touring for their low environmental impact “green” attributes. This raises a bit of a question for me and others that embrace an electric motivated future for personal transportation. Amazingly enough, the turbocharged optioned Honda CR-V approaches near hybrid MPG, without the advantages of electrification, not an easy engineering task.
When considering the purchase of a new car or SUV, how often do we look to environmental impact as a weighing factor in the decision to lease or purchase? In a time where the average pump price of gasoline sits at or near a historical low, fuel efficiency, and related car emitted air pollution, may take a backseat to utility, interior accouterments, good looks, and engine acceleration performance.
Honda continues to lead the automotive world in fuel-efficient, super low emissions I.C.E ( internal combustion engine) technology. In practice, 2017 CR-V Touring ranks #1 in the compact crossover/SUV segment for average fuel efficiency. And, according to KBB.com, will lead the competition in long-term ownership residual value.
2017 Honda CR-V offers the best of all worlds through financially attainable MSRP, segment topping performance, and as acknowledged by the ACEEE, (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) a reduced environmental footprint, as a “Greener Choices 2017” pick, with a top 11% efficiency rating when measured against all cars on the road today. This Honda Hybrid landed in the top 1.3%
It’s good to be “Green”
How we measure such benchmarks: Vehicles that qualify for the “Greener Choices 2017” list are restricted to widely available gasoline-powered cars and light trucks with automatic transmissions, which showcases the widespread availability of environmentally responsible vehicle choices in many segments of the market. The vehicles are ranked based on a full life-cycle analysis, looking at not only the environmental impacts from driving, but also from the manufacturing and end-of-life recycling of the vehicle.
As reviewed by McCants Auto News: While driving under real-world weather and road surface conditions, our turbocharged 2017 CR-V Touring averaged 28.9 MPG. That’s exceptional for a near midsize 2-row equipped with real-time all-wheel-drive, a high torque output turbocharged 4-cylinder gasoline engine, chunky-exterior design cue’s and what gained acknowledgement from the automotive press as the most refined, comfortable interior in the compact SUV segment. Read my latest 2017 Honda CR-V drive review here.
“Impressive” is a bit of an understatement when describing Honda’s reinvented 2017 CR-V. Arguably, a very good 2-row SUV prior to the Fall 2016 release of the 5th generation CR-V, Honda takes financially attainable refinement, utility, sport, and fun to drive SUV attributes to the mainstream, we’re just a bit blown away by how good CR-V is.
Until one ‘steps on the gas’ the changes are mostly subtle
CR-V was already a very good SUV, in-fact, the #1 selling retail crossover, SUV of any size in the U.S. But as with most things, despite a major refresh in late 2014, CR-V was ready for a platform change. With introduction of the 10th generation Honda Civic, came the shared “compact world-platform,” along with a very good high torque output, fuel-efficient, and more importantly, clean burning state of the automotive art turbocharged VTEC engine – the first offered in CR-V – the performance difference is measurable.
It’s not so much the added 10 horsepower, it’s where the seemingly endless torque kicks in. Coming on like a mule kick to the head at just a bit above idle, 2,000 RPM (revolutions per minute) or so, peek torque remains on demand through 5,000 RPM, effectively the “mid-RPM-working-range” of most engines today.
The advantage found here is seamless grade transition. There is no shifting per-say, as the CVT (constant variable transmission) works in unison with the torque-happy 18 Lb. boost turbocharged 4-cylinder VTEC gasoline engine.
Turbocharging, and CVT integration, results in a seemingly endless ‘flat’ torque curve, on demand “drive-by-wire’ instantaneous acceleration, and hill climbing torque. Also, the highest non-hybrid MPG in the compact crossover segment. *In real world road testing under mixed-route, extreme weather, I recorded 28.9 MPG.
But there’s yet another advantage to turbocharging
2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring is very refined as to drive and ride when driven like your grandparent’s family sedan or station wagon. CR-V has a split personality, perhaps more than two. CR-V drives as soft and docile as a new-born kitten when coaxed to do so, yet performs with the best in the class when split-second on ramp, or lane change speed is required
Interior comfort: While initially, I found the leather-covered, heated and 10-way power adjusted driver’s seat old-school-Honda stiff, within an hour or two, my body adjusted to it – the comfortable surround that is CR-V, becomes second nature as to operation – everything properly in its place, presenting arguably the most refined ride and drive experience in CR-V history.
I like the overall “chunky” stance of CR-V. The driver’s seat height and subsequent commanding view out the windshield instills confidence, and a well-earned sense of safety in the operator and passengers.
The interior layout is well-balanced, comfortable, and sensory appealing – with color contrasting soft and hard touch fabrics and plastics, offset by realistic wood-like accents, chrome, and brushed metal trims, complimenting a perfectly placed center stack, visual pleasing and unique instrument cluster, smart wheel, and single touchscreen entertainment, navigation, personal communication and cellphone-pairing driver to car interface – exceptional!
So, let’s drive already
Well, despite the pending danger of a torrential downpour in the weather forecast, we’d promised ourselves a drive out to the Oregon Coast, a mixed drive of surface streets and rural 2-lane highway. the Ocean rests 65 miles or so to the northwest, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the old homestead. Nancy and I decided to go for it!
Our 2017 Honda CR-V Touring activaes with a car recognizing key fob – the ignition is key less, and requires foot on the brake for startup. For 2017, Honda retains the electronic parking brake in CR-V, with 5 position select-stick control placed historically correct on CR-V’s dash. This arrangement affords ample cup-holder, cellphone-cable-connectivity and charge points, and a well-placed, covered storage bin, and stash place between the two front seats.
We discover the advantages of a slightly wider and longer manufacturing platform in CR-V, it’s comfy, even in the second row, affording excellent visibility to the front and sides from all seats — and yes, 2 full size adults, 3 in a pinch, child seats, and the family gold-fish, also fit in row 2 with room to spare. And, with a split 40/60 magic seat, so will your bicycle, surfboard, blowup doll, etc.
Placing CR-V in reverse, a rather good resolution color monitor turns on. In the case of CR-V Touring, one has 3 view choice options. However, one of my favorite Honda options is not on board. The right turn “Lane Watch” cam is missing in action. In its stead is the exceptional accident preventative, mitigation measure, “Honda SENSING” Suite, now available on CR-V EX trim level or higher. Featuring adaptive cruise control, Lane Keep Assist, rear cross traffic sensors, mitigated automatic braking and more.
Perfect? Darn near. O.K., I’d change a thing or two, but not much
At 3800 LBS, or so, 2017 Honda CR-V AWD Touring drives a bit heavy on 2-lane country roads. By that I mean it dives slightly into a turn, with a sense of controlled side roll.
Granted, I’d just stepped out of Honda’s exceptional handling 2017 Civic Hatchback, a car that successfully injects 5-door utility and driving fun into Honda’s bread and butter lineup. So, my take on CR-V handling trends a bit pessimistic as of this writing. In short, Honda calls CR-V “The sporty SUV,” and when I inject the instant-on acceleration, torque, superior brake and steering reponce into the equation, I’d have to agree, CR-V is a pleasure to drive, especially on the long-run, it’s fantastic on the highway.
A minor annoyance
There’s no height or lumbar adjustment for the passenger front seat.
A very minor idle oscillation occurs at idle, while sitting at the stop light.
Engine and CVT pair to make a high-rev-run when accelerating hard.
I’d like to see a full glass roof in CR-V, it doesn’t offer one.
I find the (side bulb) rear tail light design a bit distracting in the rear-view mirror.
That’s it! As I stated back in late 2014 with the major refresh of CR-V, Honda’s exception 2-row SUV retains the title of “best in class” for a very simple and succinct reason – it is! While our fully loaded 2017 CR-V AWD Touring came with a MSRP of $34,595 (Includes a $900 destination charge, Honda roadside assist, and Sirius XM programming for 1 year,) my personal build sheet totaled MSRP $38,935, for a very well equipped, AWD, turbocharged, compact urban assault 2-row. At the end of the day, CR-V is easy! I like that.
It’s that ‘crap-shoot’ that is the online pick of an “intermediate” rental car. Much like a stripper jumping out of a birthday cake, Chevy Cruze proves to be a bit surprising for this unabashed Honda fan.
True enough, I was raised in and behind the wheel of Detroit iron.
My first project car was a 1949 Chevrolet sedan, rusted, derelict, and not running. But that didn’t stop me and my younger brother Pat from cutting our auto-loving teeth on it. I, like many Americans, fell away from the Chevrolet brand during the T.A.R.P. funded transition years of the great recession. It’s not so much that I disliked the mark, I no longer trusted its assumed life-time longevity in the auto market.
Much like a long forgotten lover, Chevrolet came to mind from time to time, but I kept my distance, perhaps missing an affordable opportunity to renew my past life Chevy love fest.
Sure, I’ve caught the new Corvette or occasional Malibu SS blowing down the hardtop out of the corner of my eye, or, in the rear-view mirror of my transportation of choice. But truthfully, I lost track of the evolution of the brand, while dedicating my auto-writer intent on mostly import brands — although mostly “Made in America” at this stage of the game. The compact Chevy Cruz would prove to be noteworthy. “
In-fact, the more I drove Cruze on a recent 8 hour, 375 road trip to Eureka, California, more value I found in it.
Let’s get back to the headline
Last week while my import daily driver resided in a transmission shop, I jumped online and reserved a rental car. Par for the course, Enterprise didn’t disclose the make and model of the car waiting for me at the airport. All I knew was that it would be a rather bare-bones, fuel efficient compact, and afford care-free relatively new car, unlimited mileage driving. That night I’d take delivery of a 2016 black on gray Chevrolet Cruze LT, nothing too fancy, yet eye catching just the same.
Nothing fancy here, but I appreciated the no-nonsense layout of this compact Chevy
Dropping into the cloth covered manual adjusted driver’s seat, I noted the relative comfort of driver to wheel positioning, instrumentation, and center stack convenience feature placement. No, this Cruze did not feature a key-less entrance or ignition fob, self dimming convenience lighting, or a warm welcoming verbal recognition from that electronic girl in the dash. But, what it did present was impressive acceleration, responsive steering wheel to road feel, and reasonable road handling. The suspension is tuned for the highway long haul – a mid-firm controlled float. I like it!
I was caught by surprise as to how quiet and user friendly Chevy’s entry level compact sedan is. While one doesn’t find a plethora of active safety features in the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT Sedan, the stereo is decent, climate control and seating more than adequate, with combined fuel efficiency and on tap torque approaching the best in class.
Sure, I’d change a detail or two.
Our 2016 Cruze LT came off the lot for $21,700, a bargain in the sub-premium compact sedan segment. However, the dash mounted back-up cam resolution is sub standard, as is the cloth covered seat construction. Unfortunately Chevy found this price point at the expense of substantial, near premium trim components, and standard feature safety, as demonstrated by Honda Civic Touring and other contenders in the near premium compact sedan segment.
There are few if any active safety features available at this trim level. But for those drivers wishing to up the accident avoidance level, while enjoying power adjusted, heated seats, You’ll find those options available in Cruze for under $25,000. Chevy’s 1.4 Liter turbocharged gasoline 4 cylinder engine produced impressive, on demand torque, while sipping regular gasoline. On this 800 mile run, we averaged 42 MPG combined, outstanding fuel efficiency in any segment.
I found the no-nonsense 6-speed automatic to perform flawlessly in this front-wheel-drive compact, brake pressure and resulting stopping power was dead on, yet not jarring. Cruze, while exhibiting mild torque steer when launched off of the light, proved to be manageable, and down right civilized when driven at lawful speeds, under mixed weather conditions.
In closing, while Chevy Cruze may not be the end all be all…
Cruze LT is a good value as priced. I recommend a test drive to anyone considering the purchase of an economy compact 4 door sedan. Chevy Cruze presents fun, economical driving basics, housed in a class act of a compact sedan. It’s a no ensconce daily commuter, that can be dressed up and taken out on the town. I like that.