Honda has made changes and improvements to the popular CRV compact crossover for the 2015 model year. They begin with a bold new exterior design with new taillights and new grille, along with chassis, braking and sound-insulation improvements.

New standard features include rear console vents, sliding sun visors and a configurable center console with sliding armrest. Among new available features are LED daytime running lights, 10-way power/heated driver’s seat with two-position memory, a power liftgate, and a seven-inch touch-screen Display Audio telematics interface. Heated front seats and smart entry/push button start join the longer list of standard features on all trims.

The CRV’s restyled front and rear bodywork, mirrors and wheels are sportier and bolder with unique Honda style. The CRV comes in eight trims, each one building on the previous, adding or replacing features. Prices range from $23,320 for the basic front-wheel-drive LX to $32,770 for the new all-wheel-drive Touring, the model I tested.

For 2015, Honda added the top-of-the-line Touring model, which comes with the first Honda use of Collision Mitigation Braking and Lane Keeping Assist systems, and the first CRV adoption of Adaptive Cruise Control. These systems are included in the new Honda Sensing suite along with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Honda LaneWatch. LaneWatch provides a view of the exterior of the passenger side when the right-turn signal is activated.

Honda has been at the front of the pack in meeting environmental challenges for over three decades and was the first to add Ultra-Low-Emission Vehicle-rated technology to production vehicles. The CRV has been rated near the top of the SUV crowd for fuel economy, and for 2015 ratings have improved considerably. The new 185 horsepower, 2.4-liter, Earth Dreams Technology, four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission help the CRV achieve 34 mpg on the highway.

An ECON button on the dash activates Eco Assist to help achieve even better fuel efficiency by automatically adjusting the engine and other energy-consuming systems to their best possible configurations. Lighting on the instrument panel changes from white (less efficient) to green (more efficient) to coach the driver to get the best possible fuel usage. On a test drive of approximately 50 percent highway with cruise control engaged, and without much attention to the coaching lights, I averaged a decent 25.8 mpg.

Ten exterior colors, including Copper Sunset Pearl and Kona Coffee Metallic, are available, with gray, beige or black interiors offered. Honda offers lots of accessories, but no options packages. Full-size running boards are $564; 17-inch, 10-spoke wheels go for $1,516; and a six-person tent with full access to the vehicle is available for $382.

My Modern Steel Metallic tester had gray leather seating and door panel inserts; a black leather-wrapped tilt-telescopic steering wheel with illuminated controls for audio, phone, navigation, i-MID, and cruise; and a black leather wrapped-shifter knob located on the instrument panel. The headliner was gray, and the remainder of the interior was black, with a thin wood insert trimmed in chrome on the lower dash.

The 2015 Touring is the first CRV to ride on 18-inch chiseled black-and-silver five-spoke wheels with all-season tires. The cabin was roomy and comfortable, with 41.3 inches of legroom in the front and 38.3 inches in the back. We had a total of eight beverage holders, two 12-volt outlets, and map lights in the front and back.

Cargo space in the CRV is still impressive, with 35.3 cubic feet behind the folding rear seat, and 70.9 cubic feet with the seat completely folded. We could load the back with plenty of groceries and cat supplies or bags, luggage and surprise packages for the grandkids for a weekend trip. Several golf bags or a large stroller would have had plenty of room.

There were four cargo tie-downs and two grocery hooks in the cargo area. A retractable/removable cargo cover was included. The rear seat cushions flipped, and the seatbacks folded 60/40 using a strap on the side of the seat cushion or a handle in the cargo area. The seatbacks folded using a lever on top of the back cushion.

We had several ways to enjoy our choice of music, including HD radio, satellite radio, Pandora compatibility, Bluetooth streaming audio, two USB ports, and a 328-watt AM/FM/CD audio system with seven speakers. The seven-inch Display Audio had Honda satellite-linked navigation, voice recognition, Honda HD digital traffic, high-resolution touch screen, and customizable settings.

The system also had speed-sensitive volume control. My CRV came with Bluetooth HandsFreeLink, text messaging, and HondaLink Next Generation. The HondaLink app allows access to news, social media, restaurant searches, Internet radio, audio books, and more. Optional emergency services needed in case of a collision resulting in air bag deployment can be accessed through a smartphone connection. I have not used any of these technological marvels, as most of them require some studying and practice to make use of their full potential.

Real-time All-Wheel Drive is available on all trims, adding $1,250 to the base price. My tester had Hill Start Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control, antilock braking, electronic brake-force distribution, and brake assist. Safety equipment also included a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, dual-stage multi-threshold front air bags, SmartVent air bags with rollover sensors, anchors and tethers for child seats (all second-row seats), and childproof rear door locks.

The Touring model is well-equipped, with most of the features of the other models and some additions. Projector-beam halogen headlights with auto on/off, heated body-color power outside mirrors with integrated turn indicators and expanded view driver’s mirror, HomeLink remote gate/garage opener, and seat memory are exclusive to the Touring.

My tester had a one-touch power moon roof with tilt; roof rails; the power tailgate; remote entry/security system, with smart entry; fog lights; one-touch turn indicators; body-color door handles; rear privacy glass; variable intermittent windshield wipers; reverse-linked intermittent rear wiper/washer; dual-zone automatic climate control with air-filtration, conversation mirror with sunglasses holder; automatic-dimming rearview mirror; exterior temperature indicator; and miles-to-empty indicator.

The CRV Touring is comfortable, roomy, quiet, easy to drive, and versatile – a “soccer mom” vehicle with a sporty attitude. With $830 freight added to the $32,700 base price, total sticker price was $33,600 for my 2015 CRV Touring.


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