2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD Long-Term Update 3: Assessing the CR-V’s CVT and Handling

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Fresh off being named the 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year and with many more miles in the pilot’s seat on roads more stimulating than L.A. freeways, it’s clear that Honda has developed the CR-V’s chassis and steering to exhibit lots of confidence on scenic back roads and winding country highways.

On such roads the CR-V tracks straight over bumps, and although the ride is tightly controlled, the impact harshness is concealed well. The vehicle corners surprisingly level and exhibits poise in tight, speedy turns. The steering, albeit on the light side, is precise and controlled. Coupled with a steady and sorted chassis, the steering also provides a planted and controlled path through the corners. The CR-V bends nicely into turns and demonstrates well-behaved body control. This is vehicle handling that is far from boring—it is neutral and balanced and makes the CR-V more fun to drive than it needs to be.

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Perhaps even more notable than the handling is the CR-V’s transmission. Kept in drive, the transmission keeps rpm low, slighty numbing throttle response yet serving up good fuel economy. However, once shifted to Sport, responsiveness becomes snappier, making the CR-V more entertaining to zip around in as it keeps the engine in the powerband. Impressively, the transmission will hold at the power peak during hard acceleration instead of wave forming like some CVTs are prone to do. Furthermore, the CVT will continually find the right ratio during hill climbs, allowing it to maintain a set speed. Of course the problem with having such a good CVT is that is makes the absence of paddle shifters all the more noticeable. Grabbing a lower gear means having to shift to S or L with the stalk. Doing so results in a robust “thunk” as the shifter finds its next detent. Moving the shifter south is an easy step, but the travel back toward “D” does not always go smoothly as it sometimes skips past the “D” detent and ends up in neutral. If this is followed by any sort of throttle application, the result is an unexpected rev of the engine and a frustrating glance at the gear selector.

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Read more about our 2017 Honda CR-V Touring AWD:

The volume control on the steering wheel offers two modes of operation: it can be finger swiped up or down or pushed in at the top or bottom for a more tangible feel.

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