The 2015 Honda CR-V is a small SUV that doesn’t feel small. Well equipped, even in the base trim, the CR-V is comfortable, practical and a money-saver at the pump.
Offering a car-like driving experience, but riding higher than car, the 2015 CR-V seats five and continues to be a popular choice for buyers seeking a compact SUV with ample cargo space and rear-passenger legroom.
For 2015, Honda improved the CR-V’s fuel economy by pairing a new 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The front-wheel drive CR-V comes in four trim levels (LX, EX, EX-L and Touring) that can all be upgraded with all-wheel drive.
The last major redesign of the CR-V was for the 2012 model year. For 2015, the CR-V got a new front grille and headlights, a new rear bumper and redesigned sideview mirrors. An inch longer than the previous year but with the same wheelbase, the 2015 Honda CR-V looks a little more streamlined from the front and side and not too boxy from the rear. LED daytime running lights are standard on all but the base model.
The distinctive V-shape of the rear-seat side windows are mirrored by the similarly V-shaped taillights high on either side of the liftgate.
This keeps the CR-V from looking too utilitarian. Though the full-size spare tire that graced the back of the CR-V for many years is gone, you still get a compact spare tire kept in a compartment under the floor of the cargo area.
On the EX trim and above, you’ll get a power moonroof that opens and tilts at the touch of a button. Keyless entry and ignition is also standard at these trim levels, which will unlock the doors when you touch them and allow you to keep your key in your pocket or purse. Fog lamps are added at the EX and above. The CR-V Touring (our test vehicle), adds sporty 18-inch alloy wheels, projector-beam halogen headlamps and sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals. A power liftgate is also standard with the CR-V Touring, which can be operated remotely from as far as 50 feet away.
The CR-V seats five, and the rear seat can fit three adults, or two with a wide, fold-down arm rest in use. The split-folding rear seats fold down separately to easily to expand the cargo area if needed. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth, hands-free text messaging, a USB port, air conditioning, power windows and door locks, cruise control and a backup camera.
Unless you are on a tight budget, it’s worth it to spend a little more to move up to the EX, which includes a power-adjustable driver’s seat, heated front seats and push-button start. EX-L adds luxury touches such as a leather steering wheel, leather seats and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Since the CR-V is not a luxury SUV, you’ll find primarily textured plastic and soft surfaces inside. Still, none of these surfaces look cheap. The driver’s side door handle felt a little flimsy, but that’s a minor quibble. Cargo space is exceptional for the class. The CR-V offers 35.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row, which expands to 70.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
The CR-V’s 185-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine accelerates smoothly, even when switched to Eco mode for improved gas mileage. Sport mode boosts power, especially when accelerating from a stop, and it is easy to switch between the three drive models (Eco, Normal and Sport) at the push of a button.
Front-wheel drive versions get an EPA-estimated 27/34 mpg city/highway. Opting for all-wheel drive only lowers fuel economy estimates slightly to 26/33 mpg. For normal highway driving, take advantage of keeping it in Eco for the best fuel efficiency.
The 2015 CR-V steers through turns with enough road feel to not seem lumbering, and it provides a smooth, car-like ride that you’ll appreciate. The CVT responds very similarly to a traditional automatic transmission, without strain and without feeling to ‘continuous’ as engine speed increases. The CR-V brakes also brakes well with a responsive pedal, but look elsewhere if you want particularly nimble handling or an off-road suspension.
Part of the appeal and value of the 2015 CR-V is all the technology that comes with this SUV even at the base trim.Bluetooth for phone calls and streaming audio from your phone, cruise control, smartphone app integration with Pandora Internet Radio, a USB port and a rearview camera are all standard.
There are indicators for average fuel economy, exterior temperature, miles-to-empty and tire pressure. The EX trim adds push-button start and a 7-inch touch-screen display.
In driving the Touring edition, we liked what this trim adds in technology, such as an HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, a navigation system and a seven-speaker audio system with 328-watts of power. The dual-zone automatic climate control (available on the Touring and the EX-L) are also appealing. Given all the information the vehicle can provide – either in a dedicated display behind the steering wheel or on the infotainment system’s display – there is a learning curve to figuring out how to access everything.
Earning a 2015 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2015 Honda CR-V received the IIHS’ highest rating of “Good” for all crash tests, including the small overlap front crash test. When equipped with its full complement of crash prevention technology at the Touring trim level, the CR-V receives a “Superior” rating for front crash prevention.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2015 CR-V four out of five stars for its overall performance in crash tests.
The 2015 CR-V Touring trim has some high-tech safety systems that will appeal to families, or really anyone who appreciates a vehicle with driver-assistance features that can help avoid accidents or reduce their severity.A collision mitigation system will automatically apply the brakes and sound a warning if the CR-V is approaching another car or obstacle in its path too quickly.
Honda’s lane departure warning system will provide audible and visual cues when the CR-V is drifting out of its lane. This system uses cameras to detect markings for the center line and the edge of the road. It generally works well, but it’s not fail-safe if the lines aren’t clearly marked. The rearview camera has dynamic guidelines that indicate you potential path in all but the base trim.
The 2015 CR-V is a good value at the base or EX trim level. Step up to the EX-L only if you intend to pay for a SiriusXM subscription, or want to enjoy the feel of the leather-wrapped steering wheel and seats. The Touring trim adds notable luxury touches and some stellar safety technologies, which you may find well worth the extra cost.
The 2015 Honda CR-V strikes the right balance between power, fuel efficiency, interior space, comfort and technology to remain at the top of many lists for the best compact SUV. Even with the styling updates the CR-V’s exterior design could be a bit more dynamic. It isn’t the most powerful or nimble small SUV, and it makes no pretensions about being an off-roader, but Honda’s reputation for reliability, which relates to high resale value, has to be taken into account when benchmarking the CR-V against competitors.