2013 Honda CR-V Review and Prices

Last Updated: Apr 24, 2013

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2013 Honda CR-V Buying Advice

The 2013 Honda CR-V is the best compact crossover for you if you think its model-year 2012 redesign was sufficient to hold off the all-new 2013 Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota RAV4.

The 2013 Honda CR-V stands pat after those major model-year 2012 changes – changes that apparently weren’t enough to keep it No. 1 in the compact-SUV sales race. The more aggressively redesigned Escape had assumed sales leadership in the class though early calendar 2013, with the redesigned RAV4 also showing gains. The CR-V, meanwhile, suffered a year-over-year sales decline. It returns for 2013 as the same five-passenger, four-door wagon with a four-cylinder engine and a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. Its model-year 2012 redesign – CR-V’s first since 2007 – brought welcome if subtle restyling, some additional features, and slightly improved fuel economy. It did not include significant advances in performance.

Should you buy a 2013 Honda CR-V or wait for the 2014 Honda CR-V? The 2013 CR-V has a lot going for it: comfort, roominess, reliability. It handles well but it has no excess power. And its styling is contemporary but conservative. Honda redid its 2013 Civic compact sedan just one model-year after a redesign. But the CR-V hasn’t been subjected to the level of criticism that befell the Civic. So don’t expect the 2014 CR-V to change enough to merit waiting. Buy the 2013 CR-V if you want a solid compact crossover that’s still a leader for value.

2013 Honda CR-V Changes back to top

Styling: The 2013 Honda CR-V’s styling is unchanged coming off a complete reskin for model-year 2012. The 2013 CR-V remains handsomely aerodynamic and nicely proportioned, if less flamboyant than the shaped-in-Europe Escape, the youthfully urban Kia Sportage, the been-to-the-gym RAV4, and the sophisticated Mazda CX-5.

The CR-V is a crossover because it’s based on the underskin structure of a car, the Civic in this case. It also shares its basic engineering with the RDX crossover from Honda’s upscale Acura division.

Honda has fashioned an efficiently sized exterior enveloping a smartly packaged interior. Passenger space and cargo room are among best in class, with cargo convenience benefitting from a clever mechanism that folds the rear seat even with the rear load floor at the pull of a single lever or strap.

The dashboard mounts the gearshift lever knee-high. Upper and lower instrument-panel screens display settings for Bluetooth mobile-phone linking and the image from the rearview backup camera – both of which remain standard on 2013 CR-Vs.

The 2013 CR-V model lineup reprises three levels of trim: base LX, better-equipped EX, and top-line EX-L (“L” for leather upholstery).

Visual distinctions are minor, with EX and EX-L models having body-colored instead of black exterior details, plus fog lights and dark-tinted rear glass. The LX returns with 16-inch styled steel wheels while the EX and EX-L again use fancier 17-inch alloys.   

Mechanical: The 2013 CR-V is mechanically unchanged after Honda refined but didn’t overhaul its powertrain in the model-year 2012 redesign.

The sole engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder with 185 horsepower and 163 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the force that gets a vehicle moving, horsepower as the energy that sustains momentum).

The 2013 CR-V remains among the leaders in its competitive set for horsepower but below the mean for torque. Acceleration is perfectly adequate in most situations, although the CR-V can feel lethargic if you’re attempting a quick pass on a two-lane road or faced with a long uphill grade.

It would probably be more responsive if it had an automatic transmission with more than five speeds. Most rivals have a six-speed automatic – and the coming 2014 Jeep Cherokee will have a nine-speed. Saddling the 2013 CR-V with a five-speed automatic as its only transmission leaves Honda open to criticism that it’s skimping on extra gear ratios that could enhance performance and fuel economy.  

The 2013 CR-V runs with the compact-crossover pack by offering a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD). Like most rivals, it’s unsuited for serious off-road use, lacking generous ground clearance and the ability to lock in a constant front-rear torque split. But it does benefit from Honda’s Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. Introduced with the 2012 redesign, this instantaneously shuffles power between the front and rear axles to benefit traction on both wet and dry surfaces.  

The Ford Escape and Mazda CX-5 are the class leaders for sporty road manners. But the 2013 CR-V is immanently pleasant to drive and to ride in. It’s confident in changes of direction. It resists wallowing and floating when confronted with highway-speed dips and swells. And it soaks up most examples of bad pavement with minimal disruption to occupant comfort.

The 2013 CR-V is rated to tow trailers weighing up to 1,500 pounds, about average for a four-cylinder compact crossover.

Features: CR-V’s 2012 redesign brought it closer to class leaders because every model gained such modern necessities as Bluetooth hands-free phone and music streaming, a USB iPod interface, and a rearview backup camera.

Honda might have further closed the gap for model-year 2013 by offering the CR-V with conveniences like a power liftgate or driver aids like blind-spot detection to warn of unseen vehicles. Alas, CR-V drivers must make do with a left-side mirror with a partially convex pane that expands its field of view.

There’s no self-parking feature, as on the Escape, either. But the 2013 CR-V is otherwise available with most every convenience a compact-crossover buyer might reasonably expect, including a rather rare-for-the-class rear DVD entertainment system.

Standard are two smartphone-dependant features, both controlled by steering-wheel thumb controls. One is a Pandora internet-radio interface, although it’s compatible only with iPhones connected via the USB cable. The other is text messaging that can read incoming cell-phone texts aloud through the audio system; it’s compatible only with Blackberry devices, however.

A compass readout is standard and LX and EX models have a 160-watt audio system with four and six speakers, respectively. The EX-L gets a 328-watt unit with six speakers and a subwoofer.

A voice-activated navigation system remains an extra-cost feature available only on the EX-L; it creates the “EX-L with Navi” model. Also exclusive to the EX-L is the rear-seat DVD entertainment system; it includes a 7-inch fold-out ceiling screen and remote control. However, the navigation and rear-entertainment systems are not available in combination.

The CR-V’s rear-seat backrest reclines to adjust comfort. And the seat itself folds in a 60/40 split to expand the cargo load area. Notably convenient is a folding mechanism with release levers near the tailgate and pull straps accessible from each rear-door area. A single pull tilts the rear headrests, flips the seat cushions into the footwells, and drops the seatbacks flush with the load floor. All 2013 CR-Vs have eight cupholders.

2013 Honda CR-V Prices back to top

Base-price range for the 2013 Honda CR-V is $23,525-$31,025. That’s an increase of $420 over the 2012 CR-V and it keeps Honda’s crossover priced at the upper end of its competitive set.

(Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Honda’s fee for the 2013 CR-V is $830, an increase of $20 over 2012).

The CR-V’s price structure is shaped by a Honda policy that does not include individual options. Rather, Honda creates an ascending model ladder with a regimented set of standard features.

That policy improves assembly quality and simplifies ordering. But it can induce   buyers to go to the next-more expensive model simply to acquire a desired feature or two. Nonetheless, while competitors may have lower base prices, optioned to the level of a particular CR-V model, the price difference is usually modest.

Price for the 2013 Honda CR-V LX is $23,525 with front-wheel drive and $24,775 with AWD. Standard on the 2013 CR-V LX are cruise control, power windows, locks, and mirrors, height-adjustable driver’s seat, tilt/telescope steering wheel, remote keyless entry, and rear-seat heater ducts.

The 2013 CR-V EX is priced at $25,625 with front-drive and $26,925 with AWD. It adds to the LX a power moonroof, variable intermittent windshield wipers, illuminated front vanity mirrors, front seatback pockets, a retractable cargo cover, and an antitheft system.

Price for the 2013 Honda CR-V EX-L is $28,275 with front-drive and $29,525 with AWD. It expands on the EX by adding leather upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver’s seat with power lumbar, heated front seats and outside mirrors, and automatic headlamps.

Equipping an EX-L with the rear DVD entertainment system results in a price of $28,975 with front-wheel drive and $30,225 with AWD.

The most expensive 2013 CR-V is the navigation-equipped EX-L with Navi, a model priced at $29,777 with front-drive and $31,025 with AWD.

2013 Honda CR-V Fuel Economy back to top

Credit Honda’s efficient engineering with keeping the 2013 CR-V among the class leaders for fuel economy – despite its apparent transmission-gear deficit.

EPA fuel-economy ratings for the 2013 CR-V are unchanged at 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 22/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined with AWD.

The 2013 CR-V also retains an “Econ” dashboard button that engages an economy mode. It reprograms transmission shift points and other powertrain parameters to help eke out a bit more distance per gallon.

2013 Honda CR-V Release Date back to top

The 2013 Honda CR-V went on sale in autumn 2012.

What's next for the 2013 Honda CR-V back to top

Honda uses this same basic 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine in both the CR-V and in its Accord midsize sedan, and in the Accord, it’s linked not to a conventional automatic transmission but to a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Instead of traditional fixed gear ratios, CVTs use a belt-and-pulley system to furnish constantly varying ratios. The goal is more precise harnessing of engine output for optimal power and fuel efficiency.

It works exceptionally well in the Accord, and could be in the CR-V’s future as a replacement for the five-speed automatic transmission; when, only Honda knows.

In general, expect this fourth-generation CR-V to receive minor periodic tweaks with a midcycle freshening around model-year 2015 and a full redesign for model-year 2017.

2013 Honda CR-V Competition back to top

Ford Escape: The redesigned CR-V topped the Ford Escape in calendar-2012 sales, but Escaped regained the lead in early 2013 on the strength of an all-new design based on global styling and engineering. The 2013 Escape features three four-cylinder engines, two with Ford’s turbocharged EcoBoost technology and rated at 178 and 240 horsepower. The base engine has 168 horsepower. All three have more torque than the CR-V and link to a six-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy ratings range from 24-26 mpg city/highway/combined. Escape is heavier than the CR-V, so the base-engine is no sprinter, but handling is downright sporty, ride is firmly satisfying, and interior materials are top-notch. The dashboard layout favors fashion over function, and rear-seat room is tight enough to be a deal-breaker if you’re shopping for a bona fide family crossover. Base-price range for the 2013 Ford Escape is $23,295-$32,945.  

Toyota RAV4: This perennial CR-V rival is redesigned for model-year 2013 with more defined sheetmetal and more premium aspirations. It’s marginally larger than the CR-V, inside and out, and has slightly more upscale cabin materials. Acceleration is no longer RAV4 advantage; Toyota drops the previously available V-6 and gives all 2013 RAV4s a four-cylinder that feels weaker than its 179 horsepower would suggest. Ride and handling are a step behind the class leaders, as well. There’s no rear DVD system, but a power liftgate and blind-spot detection are offered, and fuel-economy is a pleasing 26 mpg combined with front-drive and 25 with AWD. Base-price range for the 2013 Toyota RAV4 is $24,145-$29,255.

2014 Mazda CX-5: The Nissan Rogue is No. 4 in compact-SUV sales, behind the Escape, CR-V, and RAV4. But it’s a dull crossover overdue for a model-year 2014 redesign. Dull does not describe the 2014 CX-5, which went on sale in early 2013 with a much-needed boost in power thanks to availability of a 184-horsepower four-cylinder engine in addition to the overburdened base 155-horsepower four-cylinder. This is an elegantly styled and solid crossover, gimmick-free and focused on road manners that would do a BMW proud. Mazda’s “SkyActive” approach to holistic engineering efficiency results in sky-high fuel economy ratings of 29 mpg with front-drive and 28 with AWD for the base engine. And the more powerful engine is no slacker, at 27 and 26 mpg, respectively. Cabin space falls between that of the Escape and CR-V, and base-price range for the 2014 Mazda CX-5 is $21,990-$29,575.

2013 Honda CR-V Next Steps