2020 Honda CR-V Touring AWD – Still the best?

2020 Honda CR-V Touring AWD

2020 Honda CR-V Touring AWD – The high-riding, versatile, two-box vehicle with a big hatchback, aka SUV, has been conquering the automobile landscape and slowly killing the traditional, three-box sedan for years. In North America, this trend is probably more visible than anywhere else. Just count the SUVs versus sedans in the parking lot of any mall in your neighbourhood.

Honda, the Japanese carmaker, which happens to be also the world’s biggest engine manufacturer with every type of engine from cars to bikes, from boats to generators is no exception. Honda, respected for its well-built and very economical vehicles, puts particular emphasis on the practical SUV.

Unlike many others, Honda did not sacrifice its sedans and in fact, the Civic is the best-selling vehicle in Canada for at least two decades. Honda has a strong portfolio of SUVs from HR-V to CR-V, from Passport to Pilot. And the compact CR-V is Honda’s contender in the most competitive vehicle segment. The CR-V has been among the top-tree in its category since 1990s. This week, we tested the Honda CR-V Touring, the range-topping version to have a closer look of its success. Let’s see how it rides, and stands in the competition.

Exterior & Interior & Features

New front bumper makes the CR-V look more modern and sporty

Since this is a sport utility vehicle, the exterior and interior design is the most crucial factors and Honda did a great job overall design of the 2020 CR-V. It is a nice balance of sportiness while still looking modern and functional. Touring trim comes with full LED headlights and foglights, which makes it look even more modern. In the rear, things are not that different. Although the latest CR-V is on the market for the last 3 years, the overall design has aged gracefully if at all. Dual exhaust tips underline the sporty design elements, and they are 100 percent real.

Rear design looks as good as the front

When we first get inside the 2020 CR-V it immediately felt upscale and functional. As a CR-V tradition, the shifter is placed in the middle of dashboard, which allows more space in the center console. Although there are some common parts used in the other Hondas, the overall layout is very simple and easy to use. Honda decided to change few things last year, as now it has volume knob and there are few more touches to make it look more attractive. Unfortunately it does not come with the latest infotainment system like the one in Accord, but this is still very capable with minimum lag. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard, and they work flawlessly.

The interior has lots of leather, soft-touch plastics and storage compartments – a perfect recipe for high tier SUV

Another Honda CR-V tradition is interior accommodation. No matter how tall you are, you would fit in a CR-V. Seats and seating position are very comfortable, and there is no fatigue even after hours of driving. As mentioned, there are common parts used in the other Honda models, and steering wheel is one of them. This is exactly the same steering wheel that they use in Honda Civic. As this is a Touring trim, it comes with everything available in CR-V, including memory seats, wireless charging and leather upholstery. For the full features and specs, please scroll down and see what’s available in each trim.

CR-V’s rear seats are great place for multiple kids, even for adults

The Comfort level in the rear is good too. Tons of headroom, legroom and seats are very comfortable like the front seats. You can fold them down for more cargo space, and you get fully-flat rear seats when you fold them down. Speaking of cargo space, you have tons of it back there. 2020 Honda CR-V comes with 39.2 cu-ft of cargo space standard in all trims. If you fold down the rear seats, it goes all the way up to almost 76 cu-ft. It is one of the best in this segment. Another great feature is, cargo floor is designed very low, so it super easy to load your stuff and you don’t need to worry about scratching the paint, as it comes with unpainted surface.

2020 CR-V is one of the best alternatives if you are looking for the most cargo space

Engine and Drivetrain

Compared to Japanese rivals, Honda decided to use the unique way when they choose the drivetrain. The 2020 CR-V comes with only one engine and transmission option in Canada, which is a tiny 1.5 liter turbocharged engine that produces 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. Don’t let the word “tiny” fool you, due to the turbocharger, the torque curve is flat from the idle all the way up to redline. You can drive the CR-V within 1500-3000 rpm all day and it still pulls the vehicle. It is not a fast car by any means, but the powerband is more than enough for daily driving and family hauling.

CR-V comes with only one engine option which produces 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque.

This engine is widely used in Honda’s model lineup and it has been on the market for the last 5 years. You can find exactly the same powertrain in the Civic and Accord. The only difference is, this is the only option that comes with All-Wheel-Drive. One of the strongest selling points for this engine is, the fuel economy. In our tests, CR-V consumed average of 8.5L / 100 km, which is very good considering it’s size, weight and AWD. Of course, CVT transmission contributes to great fuel economy numbers, as you don’t need to go through the revs/gears to accelerate. Continuously Variable Transmission is tuned very well, it does not imitate gears like regular automatic unless you floor it, so you can get the most out of fuel economy when you are easy on the throttle by keeping the rpm steady.

Fuel economy numbers can be seen through the digital cluster

As mentioned, it comes with All-Wheel-Drive system standard in Touring trim. In fact, AWD is available in all trims, but you can only opt-out of the AWD in base trim. Unlike the previous generation CR-V, this generation comes with Honda Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System that sends power to the rear wheels constantly, not like on and off switch when you really need it. This provides better and smoother driving experience, and you can see how much power is sent from the digital cluster. Although this is called an SUV, you should never take it to hardcore off-road. Like its rivals, it is meant for very lightweight off-road activities and it should spend most of its life on pavement.

The Evolution from 2014 to the Present

2020 vs 2014 – 6 years of evolution in one picture

We normally don’t review our personal vehicles, but my personal car is a 2014 Honda CR-V EX-L and this review gives me the opportunity to see how good is the 2020 CR-V compared to six years ago. First of all, size-wise there is no huge difference. Compared to 20 years ago, all cars got bigger and bulkier, but it is very obvious that Honda wanted to keep CR-V size in control as it is a very versatile vehicle, they want it to be good at every driving circumstances, including the city and tight spaces. Although it looks slightly taller, overall dimensions are almost the same. Interior space is always CR-V’s strongest selling point, and it is really good in both generations. Surprisingly, driver’s seating position is very similar. If you are used to the older CR-Vs, you will feel at home with the 2020 model too.

Although seating position feels almost the same, overall interior quality and features are much better in 2020 CR-V

Design language is very different though. In the past, SUVs are known as a boring vehicles for family hauling and towing. When you look at 2014 from outside, you feel that this is not an exciting car to drive. This is not the case with 2020 MY, as Honda tried their best to make it look attractive for all types of people. It is same for the interior, as the materials that they used in 2020 is MUCH better than the 2014. Feature-wise, there is a huge delta as well. Although it has almost all essential features including Bluetooth and cruise control, you won’t find advanced features like adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, wireless charging, Apple CarPlay etc. in 2014 CR-V.  Also, previous generation has more limited features in the infotainment system with black/white graphics with an analog gauge cluster. Long story short, 2020 CR-V feels significantly better and more premium than 2014 when it comes to design and features. One of the reasons why there is a huge delta in 6 years is that the competition gets very intense due to the high sales numbers and all manufacturers try to keep up with it.

2014 CR-V has K24 engine that produces 185 hp and 163 ft-lb of torque

Last but not least, the technical part. 2014 CR-V comes with 2.4L, “the good old” naturally aspirated port-fuel injected K24 engine and torque converted automatic transmission. Unlike other manufacturers, Honda only used 4-cylinder engines in CR-V historically, but they keep improving the powertrain to offer smoother driving experience. Honda decided to switch to CVT transmission and direct injection with the 2015 model year and seems like they have a good history of reliability with the CVT and direct injection. Today, due to stricter emissions, car manufacturers forced to downsize their engine displacement and CR-V was one of the victims of the newer regulations. However, with the help of turbocharger, it offers more torque,  much better torque curve throughout the rpm range, more horsepower and better fuel economy in a CR-V.

Conclusion & Pricing & Specs

After the review, I still feel like I need to answer an important question which is included in the title. Is it still the best? This is a very hard question to answer. There are lots of alternatives in SUV segment and the competition is very intense. However, when we say the word SUV, Honda CR-V is one of the first alternatives comes to mind. Why? Because -along with the Toyota RAV4- it is one of the first Japanese alternatives in this segment that started the SUV craziness in the 1990s. Honda has a different approach with the latest CR-V, it has significantly smaller engine than the competition and it relies on forced induction to provide better powerband, better drivability and fuel economy.

2020 CR-V is one of the most premium “non-premium” SUVs in this segment

2020 CR-V is not an old platform by any means, but some rivals are recently refreshed in order to be able to keep up with the competition. However, it is obvious that CR-V is still one of the best in this segment when it comes to interior quality, practicality, and cargo space for the price, which is probably why you are looking for an SUV. It starts at $30,876 and goes all the way up to $44,026 with the Black Edition which is the top trim of 2020 MY. It may not be the cheapest alternative, but as long as you are okay paying slight premium, you are getting a great daily driver with a proven platform.

For more details, please visit www.honda.ca

For pricing and details of specifications please see the table below:

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay