2010 Honda CR-V Review and Prices

Last Updated: Aug 5, 2011

Pros

  • "CR-V" is Honda's abbreviation for "Comfortable Runabout Vehicle."  So there is truth in advertising
  • Good handling, great passenger space
  • Laudable fuel economy, high owner satisfaction

Cons

  • It can feel underpowered when you most need power
  • Front-drive models have poor traction in snow
  • USB and Bluetooth linking are limited to most-expensive models

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2010 Honda CR-V Buying Advice

The 2010 Honda CR-V is the best compact crossover for you if its status as America’s most-popular SUV is endorsement enough.

It looks like a sport-utility vehicle – elevated ground clearance, high seating position, big cargo area. But the 2010 Honda CR-V is really a car-based wagon with SUV pretensions. That’s precisely what makes it so pleasing. You ride tall. You can take advantage of all-wheel-drive traction. But you’re not saddled with the ponderous handling and fuel thirst of something built on a truck chassis. The 2010 Honda CR-V is indeed a compact station wagon that’s “crossed over” into SUV territory. Too bad it doesn’t bring a powerful-enough engine with it.

Should you buy a 2010 Honda CR-V or wait for the 2011 Honda CR-V? Buy the 2010 CR-V. It gets updates to styling, power, and features that’ll carry this design generation to its model-year 2012 conclusion. The 2011 CR-V will very likely be a rerun of the 2010 model -- and its styling and features will have a one-year-shorter shelf life.

2010 Honda CR-V Changes back to top

Styling: The 2010 Honda CR-V styling gets freshened and some interior details are altered, but this five-passenger four-door wagon retains the basic shape and dimensions it’s sported since 2007. The 2010 CR-V exterior styling updates involve changes the nose and tail. In front, the grille’s upper portion trades double slats for a single chrome-style crossbar. The lower portion gains a honeycomb design. And the bumper’s painted surface extends lower to supplant some black cladding. The hood is now flush with the upper portion of the grille and the overall look is cleaner and less fussy than before. In back, the bumper is reshaped and also expands its painted surface, eliminating more unsightly black cladding. Inside, revised plastics on the dashboard and center console are intended to brighten things up, while the audio system exchanges black backlighting for more readable blue. These changes fall under the heading of a mid-cycle freshening because the current-generation CR-V bowed for model-year 2007 and the next-generation is due in model-year 2013. Today’s CR-V is actually one of the smaller crossovers in the compact-SUV class. But smart design gives it generous interior space for people and packages. Honda’s styling philosophy is egalitarian, so close inspection is required to identify CR-V’s three trim levels. Just over half of CR-V buyers choose the midline EX version, which is visually distinguished from the base LX model by alloy wheels instead of wheel covers and by darkened “privacy” glass on the rear windows. To identify the top-of-the-line EX-L, look inside. It has leather upholstery; that’s what “L” stands for. An impressive 25 percent of CR-V buyers go for it all and pick the EX-L. For 2010, the wheels on the EX and EX-L are new 10-spoke alloys, replacing a 7-spoke design. And “Opal Sage Metallic” and “Polished Metal Metallic” are new color choices.

Mechanical: The CR-V retains a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as its only engine but both horsepower and fuel economy increase modestly for 2010. Horsepower increases to 180 at 6800 rpm from 166 at 5800 rpm. Credit a compression-ratio boost, to 10:5:1 from 9.7:1, and tweaks to fuel-delivery and exhaust systems, Torque remains 161 pound-feet, but now peaks at 4400 rpm rather than 4200. The sole transmission is again a five-speed automatic. All three CR-V trim levels are available with a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The AWD system senses front-wheel slip and feeds power to the rear wheels until traction is restored. It’s not designed for serious off-roading, and neither is the CR-V. True, it has a fairly substantial 7.3 inches of ground clearance, but its AWD system lacks both low-range gearing and the capability to lock in a 50-50 front-rear torque split. Every CR-V has four-wheel disc brakes with antilock control to combat brake lock-up in emergencies. Each also gets brake assist to automatically apply maximum stopping power even if the driver fails to fully depress the brake pedal. Standard too is an antiskid system. Often called stability control, an antiskid system is a particularly important feature in SUVs and other vehicles with a relatively high center of gravity. It modulates engine power and applies individual brakes to counteract sideways skids that can lead to rollovers, a primary cause of death in accidents involving SUVs. All CR-Vs have 17-inch wheels and tires.    

Features: Honda fills two holes in the CR-V’s list of features for 2010: it adds Bluetooth cell-pone connectivity and a USB audio interface for iPods and other MP3 players. However, these amenities -- widely available throughout the lineups of many rivals -- are limited to the most-expensive 2010 CR-V models. Only the top-of-the-line CR-V EX-L equipped with Honda’s navigation system gets Bluetooth. And only EX-L models – with or without navigation – come with the USB interface, which provides direct access to music files though the CR-V’s audio controls. Similarly, all CR-Vs have a Multi-Information Display in the instrument panel that provides trip data, fuel-economy readouts and the like. But only the display in 2010 EX and EX-L models gains a compass feature. All 2010 models have 1-inch wider center fold-down armrests for the driver and front-passenger seat. In Honda tradition, CR-V offers no stand-alone options. Instead, it ladles on standard equipment as you ascend the model line. Honda dealers are happy to fill most of the vacuum left by the factory by installing a long list of manufacturer-approved extras, from wood interior trim to remote engine start.

2010 Honda CR-V Test Drive back to top

From behind the wheel:  The Honda CR-V drives remarkably like a tall car – a sporty and composed tall car. It has good straight-line stability, an agile manner in changes of direction, and confident balance in turns. The steering is notable for its quickness, accuracy, and natural feel. 

The CR-V’s smooth engine never balks at giving its all; it just doesn’t always have enough to give. Now with 180 ponies, this 2.4-liter goes from among the lowest four-cylinder horsepower ratings in the class to among the highest, though peak output now requires 1000 additional rpm. However, torque – the true muscle behind acceleration – is unchanged at 161 pound-feet, and that’s still among the weakest in the class. At 3,500 pounds or so, the CR-V is heavier than most compact crossovers, so freeway merging or passing may still feel labored. And the 2010 CR-V is likely to seem underpowered when asked to overtake highway-speed traffic or climb a long grade with four adults and luggage aboard. A smooth shifter in undemanding driving, the transmission isn’t your ally when you need to extract every morsel of power. It tends to hunt between gears in search of torque. And Honda neglects to equip it with a separate gate that would give the driver the advantage of manually selected gear ratios.

Despite carrying the weight of the engine and transaxle over the tires that propel the car, front-wheel-drive CR-Vs don’t have notably good traction in snow; partial blame may lie with the tires Honda specifies. CR-V’s AWD system does a fine job as an all-weather on-road safeguard, automatically distributing power to the rear tires when sensors detect the fronts are losing traction. In more challenging conditions, it falls short of some other compact-SUV AWD systems, including those in the Toyota RAV-4 and Nissan Rouge, because it can’t be set to maintain a 50-50 front-rear power distribution.

Dashboard and controls:  Nothing fancy about the design or layout, just sound ergonomics and solid materials. The speedometer and tachometer are big, round gauges unobstructed by the steering wheel and highly legible thanks to simple type and crisp lighting. Audio and climate controls are large, nicely identified, and conveniently placed. The gear lever mounts at the base of the instrument panel, where it falls easily to hand and frees up floor space.

The CR-V EX-L’s navigation-screen graphics are sharp, but the system is most reliably programmed with your fingers, not your voice: the unit in our test EX-L understood spoken instructions only about half the time. Otherwise, Honda’s attention to detail is evident in the weight and precision movement of every CR-V lever, button, and switch.

Honda addressed a couple of convenience deficits for 2009 by introducing a power driver’s seat and dual-zone automatic climate controls – both CR-V firsts – but limited to the EX-L model. For 2010, EX-Ls gain USB, and navigation versions get Bluetooth; both are appealing and useful, but CR-V buyers shouldn’t have to shell out for upper-line models to get them.

Room, comfort, and utility:  Airy and adult describes the CR-V’s cabin. The mix of padded surfaces to hard plastic panels is appropriate to the price, even at the EX-L’s $30,000 plateau. Materials are nicely grained and the overall ambience is peaceful and pleasant. Head room is generous front and rear. Driver and front passenger get lots of seat travel to accommodate long legs. The bucket seats are supportive, even in fast turns. Rear passengers are treated to abundant knee and toe space. Their comfort is enhanced by a flat floor and a sofa-like seat with a comfortably contoured cushion and a reclining backrest. Like most compact crossovers, CR-V is a bit too narrow for three adults to ride without rubbing shoulders.

With one basic suspension setting and a single wheel and tire size, there’s no discernable difference in ride quality among CR-V models. That’s a fine state of affairs. Here, the CR-V’s stout structure pays off in a terrific mix of firm control and jolt-free absorbency, even on rough or wavy roads. Coarse pavement does trigger tire noise that can intrude on conversation. So can the engine’s snarl when you give it lots of gas.    

Honda squeezes abundant of cargo room into the CR-V. Space is good even with the rear seatback up. This conveniently splits into three sections and, along with the lower cushion, flips and folds to create a flat load floor. Bins and nooks nicely address small-items storage, but the LX and EX models have a hinged cupholder/brick-a-brack shelf between their front seats. You need to move up to the EX-L version to a get a traditional center console.

2010 Honda CR-V Prices back to top

The 2010 Honda CR-V price range is $22,255-$30,455. All prices in this review include the manufacturer’s mandatory destination charge; Honda’s fee is $710 for 2010 models.

The 2010 Honda CR-V LX with front-wheel drive is priced at $22,255. The 2010 CR-V LX with all-wheel drive is priced at $23,505. LX models come with a good selection of standard equipment. In addition to the aforementioned safety features, these include power windows, locks, and mirrors, a tilt/telescope steering wheel, cruise control, height-adjustable driver’s seat, remote keyless entry, four-speaker stereo with auxiliary jack for digital media, and 40/20/40 split folding rear seatbacks.

The 2010 Honda CR-V EX is priced at $24,555 with front-wheel drive and at $25,805 with all-wheel drive. EX models add to the LX such popular extras as a power moonroof with tilt feature, six-speaker audio with an in-dash six-disc CD changer, steering wheel audio controls, rear privacy glass, and an outside temperature gauge. In addition to the compass readout, 2010 EX models gain vanity-mirror lights.

The 2010 Honda CR-V EX-L is priced at $27,205 with front drive and $28,455 with AWD. It comes with all the EX equipment, plus leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic climate control, heated front seats and outside mirrors, an eight-way power driver’s seat, XM satellite radio, and the USB interface.

The 2010 Honda CR-V EX-L with navigation is priced at $29,205 with front-drive, $30,455 with all-wheel drive. In addition to the new Bluetooth capability, its navigation system includes voice recognition and a dashboard screen on which a rearview camera projects a video image of what’s behind when the transmission is in reverse. The audio system has a subwoofer and mounts its six-disc CD changer in the center console instead of in the dashboard.

2010 Honda CR-V Fuel Economy back to top

The 2010 Honda CR-V remains among the most fuel-efficient compact SUVs. And a green thumb up to Honda for increasing horsepower without sacrificing fuel-economy for 2010.

The CR-V’s EPA mileage estimates increase by 1 mpg in both city and highway driving for 2010, to 21/28 mpg (city/highway) with front-wheel drive and to 21/27 with all-wheel drive.

2010 Honda CR-V Safety and Reliability back to top

The Honda CR-V scores very well in government crash-test ratings (safecar.gov). The tests award a maximum of five stars for occupant protection in frontal and side collisions. In both frontal and side impacts, the CR-V scores five stars for protection of the driver, front passenger, and rear passengers. In government assessments of rollover resistance, the CR-V rates four stars on the five-star scale, a score that puts it among the best compact SUVs in that test.   

For quality and reliability, the Honda brand earns strong ratings from J.D. Power and Associates, the leading automotive consumer survey firm (jdpower.com). Honda ranks above average for initial overall quality measured after the first 90 days of ownership. It also rates above average for dependability in J.D. Power surveys that measure problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles.

J.D. Power puts the CR-V in its “compact multi activity vehicle” category and there it ties with the Chrysler PT Cruiser for top spot in initial quality. CR-V owners surveyed tend to be extremely pleased, awarding highest or next-to-highest grades for mechanical quality, build quality, and quality of accessories after the first 90 days of ownership. They rate it above average for comfort and design. The lowest grade CR-V owners give their vehicle is in performance, where they rate it average.

For dependability the CR-V also scores among the very best in J.D. Power studies of problems experiences after three years of ownership.

2010 Honda CR-V Release Date back to top

The 2010 Honda CR-V went on sale in September 2009. This crossover became the best-selling SUV in the U.S. with calendar-year 2008 results of 197,279, which also placed it among the top-10 best-selling vehicles for that year. In calendar 2009 sales, the CR-V was again running atop the SUV pack, with the Ford Escape second and Toyota RAV4 third. The CR-V is sold in 160 countries. About 70 percent of those sold in the U.S. are built at the Honda of America Manufacturing, Inc. plant in Ohio.

What's next for the 2010 Honda CR-V back to top

In overseas markets, Honda sells the CR-V with a fine turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. Some CR-V enthusiasts – there are a few -- were salivating over reports that this engine would join the U.S. lineup for model-year 2010. Exciting them was its abundant torque and promise of 40-mpg economy. But Honda retracted any diesel plans it may have had for the U.S., citing the faltering economy, the expense of marketing a diesel engine, and the unpredictable price of diesel fuel. That doesn’t rule out a diesel version of America’s next-generation CR-V, though Honda is just as likely to explore a gas-electric hybrid as the powertrain alternative.

Will Honda offer that third-generation 2013 CR-V with a V-6 engine? This engineering-centric company prides itself on efficiency in terms of weight, power, and fuel economy – no matter what the competition is doing. Only if it could honor those values would Honda create a V-6 CR-V. Look instead for a marginally more-powerful four-cylinder engine – perhaps a version of the 190-horsepower 2.4-liter available in the Accord – maybe teamed with an advanced six-speed automatic transmission. A more-versatile AWD setup could be in the cards, too. 

Though the styling with evolve, the 2013 Honda CR-V won’t stray far from today’s basic size and five-passenger layout. Honda plays its three-row-seating SUV hand with the midsize Pilot crossover.

2010 Honda CR-V Competition back to top

2010 Toyota RAV-4: This popular crossover is the CR-V’s natural advsary, vying with the Honda for high customer-satisfaction scores though usually trailing in sales numbers. The solid, refined Toyota RAV-4 is larger than the CR-V, but it’s no more comfortable overall. It is available with a tiny third-row seat suitable for a couple of kids, and it has slightly more cargo space. The RAV-4’s 179-horsepower four-cylinder is a match for the CR-V’s four, but equipped with the available 269-horsepower V-6, RAV-4 is among the fastest compact crossovers. Base prices span roughly $22,500-$28,800, and fuel economy ratings top out at 22/28 with the four-cylinder, 19/27 with the V-6. Look for RAV-4’s next redesign in model-year 2012.

2010 Ford Escape: It’s been revamped a couple of times, most recently for model-year 2008, but this crossover traces its basic design to model-year 2001. That makes it the oldest compact SUV on the market, a sad fact that shows in a cramped cabin and a general lack of refinement compared to the rest of the field. But styling is handsome and base prices are competitive at $21,300-$28,800. Powertrain choices are a 171-horsepower four-cylinder (22/28 mpg), a 240-horsepower V-6 (18/26), and a 155-horsepower gas-electric hybrid (34/31 mpg). The Escape Hybrid starts at $30,510. This Ford is due for a full redesign in model-year 2012. 

2010 Subaru Forester: A full 2009 redesign gained Forester enough size to graduate from compact-car tight to compact-crossover roomy. In fact, terrific road manners and a rock-solid bearing make this small SUV a strong contender for best-in-class. Shoppers are catching on: Forester is among the few vehicles in any category to enjoy increasing sales during the recession. All-wheel drive and a four-cylinder engine with Subaru’s traditional horizontally opposed cylinder design are standard. Starting around $21,000, base-model Foresters have 171 horsepower and rate 20/26 mpg. Priced from around $27,000 the turbocharged models have a snappy 224 horsepower and rate 19/24 This Subaru won’t be redesigned again before model-year 2014.

2010 Honda CR-V Next Steps