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Class: compact crossover
Base price range: $24,200-$33,650
Pro: Passenger and cargo room, fuel economy, ride and handling, reliability, resale value Con: Continuously variable transmission
America’s best-selling crossover gets a major refresh for model-year 2015, gaining more power yet better fuel economy and some first-time safety features. The basic shape and dimensions that came with its model-year 2012 redesign are unchanged. But revisions to the nose and tail give it a more serious appearance, as do restyled wheels, including its first 18-inch-diameter rims, which are standard on the new top-of-the-line model, the Touring. It joins returning LX, EX, and EX-L versions and is the only trim to include CR-V’s first slate of driver aids like adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, and steering-correcting lane assist. All but the LX now have a 7-inch dashboard screen (with navigation on the Touring and EX-L w/Navi models), pushbutton ignition, and Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot video system. Every model is available with front- or all-wheel drive. All again have a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine of 185 horsepower. But it’s a significantly updated powerplant, with more torque and a new transmission – a continuously variable unit in place of a conventional automatic. The result is a jump of 3 mpg in city-highway fuel-economy ratings, to an outstanding 29 mpg with front-drive and 28 with AWD. The CVT performs fine around town, but like most of its ilk, promotes noisy engine drone and fairly slow response when you want rapid acceleration. Suspension upgrades improve CR-V’s already laudable road manners: this is one of the best-driving compact crossovers, period. It’s also among the roomiest, with an airy cabin that holds four adults in spacious comfort and five in a pinch. Cargo volume is above average and the Touring introduces another CR-V first: a power liftgate.