Best Compact SUV: Honda CR-V

Each year, SUVs.com names its top picks for every SUV segment. For compact SUVs, this year’s selection was simple, as the Honda CR-V is the class of the pack.

The Honda CR-V earned many accolades. Kelley Blue Book named the CR-V one of its 16 Best Family Cars of 2016, stating, “Thankfully, this small family car doesn’t forsake Mom or Dad. Whoever is driving will enjoy the CR’-V’s excellent blend of comfort, power, good visibility, and efficiency.”

Along with the critical acclaim, here are a few reasons why the Honda CR-V earned our top pick.

Affordability

The 2016 Honda CR-V’s base model, the LX, begins from $23,745. According to automotive research site Axlegeeks, this SUV is $2,525 less expensive than comparable models. While there are compact models that have a better starting price such as the Mazda CX-5 Sport ($21,795), what you receive for the price indicates the value an SUV represents.

In this regard, the Honda CR-V doesn’t disappoint.

Fuel Economy

Equipped with its standard 2.4L Inline-4 engine offering, the SUV receives up 33 highway mpg and 26 city mpg, resulting in a combined efficiency of 29 mpg. The savings increases further when you examine the CR-V’s fuel range.

Because of its exceptional efficiency, the CR-V possesses a highway range of 505 miles, which is 44 miles further than the average compact SUV delivers. This results in you receiving more miles per fill up, translating into better fuel savings over the life of ownership.

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Performance

Speaking of drives, the Honda CR-V generates the perfect blend of brisk acceleration and capability. Its 2.4L Inline-4 engine delivers 176-horsepower, giving it an advantage over competitors like the Subaru Outback 2.5i (175-horsepower) and the Nissan Rogue S (170-horsepower).

If there is a deficiency with the Honda CR-V it concerns its power capability. While its towing capacity of 1,500 pounds is more than most would need, it does trail the 2,000-pound average set by its immediate peers.

Interior Space

The Honda CR-V has a spacious interior. With the rear seats folded down, it opens up to 70.9 cubic feet of cargo room, giving it a 26 percent advantage over its compact SUV counterparts.

It also possesses a generous trunk space of 37.2 cubic feet. To provide scale, the Honda CR-V has more trunk space (37.20 cubic feet) than the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid XLE (35.60 cubic feet) or the Ford Escape S (34.30 cubic feet).

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Safety Performance

One of the reasons why we ranked the Honda CR-V as the best economical compact SUV concerns its safety performance. The CR-V earned a five-star overall safety rating with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; it also received the Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, indicating this is among the safest performing SUVs available.

Honda loaded the CR-V with a mix of accident avoidance technologies such as the available lane departure warning, the collision mitigation braking system, and adaptive cruise control. There’s also vehicle stability assist, LED daytime running lights and the multi-angle rearview camera to help drivers capture more visibility of the road around them. Combined, these features make it easy to see why the Honda CR-V earned such high safety ratings.

Versatility

As noted previous, the Honda CR-V possesses more trunk space and cargo room than its immediate peers. In addition, it delivers excellent convenience features to make your life easier.

The Power Tailgate allows hands-free access to the back of the CR-V with a push of a button. The seven-inch audio touchscreen gives you access to Pandora radio, music stored on your phone and more. Additionally, the hill start assist maintains braking pressure when you are idle on a hill so you have the time needed to accelerate. All these features show the careful consideration Honda placed in designing a compact SUV to meet your needs.

Competitors

The compact SUV market continues to be one of the most competitive automotive segments. As such, the Honda CR-V received firm competition. One of the runner-ups was the Chevrolet Trax.

The Chevrolet Trax has a few more appealing elements than the Honda CR-V. For one, its beginning price of $20,300 appeals to those looking for a stylish SUV at an affordable price. The Trax also delivers better fuel efficiency, with a combined 30 mpg output.

However, this is where Trax’s advantages end. Its horsepower output of 138 is significantly less than the 176-horsepower the CR-V generates. Moreover, the Trax doesn’t possess a spacious interior relative to its peers. The Trax’s 18.70 cubic feet of trunk space falls well below par when compared to the CR-V’s trunk space of 37.20 cubic feet.

Another competitor that has many attractive features is the Hyundai Tucson. Like the Trax, it is less expensive than the CR-V, with a starting price of $22,700. It also received a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA and the Top Safety Pick+ distinction from the IIHS, both of which the CR-V earned.

Despite the Tucson’s attractive safety performance and price, the CR-V holds the advantage in pivotal areas. The CR-V possesses better fuel efficiency, with 29 combined mpg compared to the Tucson’s 27 combined mpg, and it has more trunk space than the Tucson has (37.20 cubic feet to 31.00 cubic feet.) Therefore, the Honda CR-V holds the overall advantage.

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Recap

The Honda CR-V earned our best compact economical SUV honor because it touts affordability, great fuel economy, and excellent safety ratings. What’s more, it houses more trunk space than its similar sized counterparts, it generates brisk power and comes with an array of convenience features to make your life easier. All told, the Honda CR-V offers many attractive features to make it an excellent value.

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