In 1997, Honda was one of the first automakers to re-invent the small SUV game. Instead of a cheap, crude, truck-like appliance, the company launched the refined CR-V, which boasted both plenty of interior space and a car-like demeanor. 15 years later, that segment is more crowded than ever, but Honda hopes the same quality that made the original stand out – refinement – will push the all-new 2012 CR-V to the front of the pack.
The fourth-generation CR-V isn’t a drastic departure from the previous model, but given the outgoing CR-V managed to set sales records even in its later years, it’s not too surprising Honda isn’t too keen to completely reinvent the wheel. From afar, the 2012 model looks almost quite similar, but revisions jump out as you move closer. The CR-V's nose now bears a resemblance to the Accord Crosstour, its roofline is tweaked, and its hind quarters are significantly different than before, with its pillar-mounted taillights adopting a Volvo-esque kink.
But invisible to bystanders is a level of polish that wasn’t found on the previous CR-V. Older all-wheel-drive models were reluctant to send power to rear wheels on hard launches, but that’s no longer the case. Rear seats, which were often a pain to stow, now fold flat into the floor. Better yet, the cabin incorporates rich, soft-touch materials, and boasts a number of creative storage cubbies.
Will this latest CR-V resonate with buyers, particularly as new competitors, like the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, and Ford Escape, make their way to the market? Time will tell – but we think the legions of buyers who previously parked a CR-V in their garage may find the Honda’s cute-ute still pushes all the right buttons.
For more on the 2012 Honda CR-V, check out our First Look story here. For more on the 2011 Los Angeles Show, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our L.A. Show homepage.