Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Compact SUV Comparison Test: Honda CR-V (First Place)

Rarely do I test any vehicles that are this excellent in so many different ways. It may be one of the oldest designs in this entire test fleet but it still managed to shine head and shoulders above the rest when it came to family and cargo hauling duties. But beyond that the Honda CR-V is still much, much more.

Before any of you start screaming that the test was fixed because I am the “Honda and Acura Examiner” try and realize that it does my journalistic credibility no favors by handing the first place trophy to Honda. In fact, I’d say the CR-V had a harder time than any of the other vehicles I tested because I wanted to be absolutely sure that it was good. I didn’t expect it to be the best.

But to sooth the naysayers I do have one complaint about the 2010 Honda CR-V EX-L (with navigation) test unit that I drove. It featured a 6-disc CD changer mounted in the center console between the front seats. It used up too much valuable cargo space and looked like it had somehow time traveled from an era when MC Hammer pants were still all the rage. Okay, was that mean enough?

So why is the CR-V the best compact family SUV on the market today? First off, the interior of this Honda is so solidly constructed that it makes the competition’s offering look like they are made of Paper Mache, glue and macaroni noodles. The plastics, leather and fabric trim all felt like they could take years and years of spilled juice boxes, crushed Cheerios and the after effects of child (or canine) car sickness yet would still sparkle after a good cleaning.

You need to trust me on the good cleaning idea because I really got my 2010 Honda CR-V really, really dirty. So dirty, in fact, that I felt compelled to take it to the car was before Honda came to collect it. The cargo area was covered in dirt, leaves and dog fur and the leather seats weren’t much better off. But after a simple (and basic) car wash visit the CR-V looked better than brand new.

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