Here’s a head-turner for those who follow automotive trends: Kelley Blue Book just published its annual list of the 10 best family vehicles, and for the first time not a single sedan made the cut.
The staid old family sedan has been losing ground to crossovers, for good reason. These mini SUVs are more practical, with a rear tailgate instead of a trunk, for bulky items and awkward piles of gear. They’re a bit taller, offering a more commanding view of the road. Mandatory electronic stability control makes them safer than the rollover-prone SUVs of yore. And perhaps above all, they’re cooler, conveying the go-anywhere mindset of an adventurer, even if they never depart from pavement.
That makes the timing fortuitous for Honda’s rollout of the 2017 CR-V, a newly redesigned version of the popular crossover that’s poised to become Honda’s bestselling vehicle. The Civic compact was Honda’s top seller last year, with sales of about 367,000. But the CR-V was right behind, with sales of 357,000. Since new models tend to generate fresh interest (and merit muscular ad campaigns), there’s a good chance the CR-V will outsell the Civic this year.
Pras Subramanian and I tooled around in a 2017 CR-V loaned by Honda to evaluate its appeal, as you can see in the video above. Honda is touting a sleeker, quieter cabin, a better interface with your smartphone, improved cargo room and gas mileage that averages about 30 MPG—what econoboxes averaged just a few years ago. Honda is famous for clever engineering touches, such as a “two-mode” floor in the cargo area that starts with a flat surface but lets you drop the floor by a smidge, to make more room for stacked suitcases.
The CR-V is essentially a people-mover for families with one or two kids that don’t quite need a minivan. The trick for the 2017 model is to make incremental improvements without comprising the crossover’s inherent practicality, which is why casual observers might not even distinguish the styling of the new model from the outgoing one. Pras and I predict the CR-V will fulfill its mission in the Honda lineup. Should you get one? Check out the video to help you decide.
Rick Newman is the author of four books, including Rebounders: How Winners Pivot from Setback to Success. Follow him on Twitter: @rickjnewman