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Updates To Honda’s Popular Compact Crossover Could Include Different Styling And a New Transmission

What changes will make it different?

Exterior styling tweaks, a freshened interior, and maybe a new transmission are likely on tap for Honda’s popular small SUV. Today’s version of this utility vehicle was all-new for 2012 and is on schedule for a model-year 2017 redesign. That makes it ripe for a “midcycle” update as Honda seeks to keep it fresh heading toward the end of its current-generation design.

Should I wait for the 2015 model?

Yes, if you want to see what changes the automaker has in store for a wagon wrestling with the Ford Escape for sales leadership in America’s compact-crossover class. This manufacturer’s midcycle updates typically consist of revised front and rear fascias, a retooled interior with some new materials, and an updated features list. Expected highlights include addition of the LaneWatch blind-spot camera system and 7-inch dashboard touchscreen audio display the company debuted on its 2014 Civic.

Should I buy the current 2014 instead?

If you want a versatile five-passenger crossover that’s “just right” in nearly every subjective and objective category. It won’t blow your doors off with fast acceleration or sports-car handling. But it’s comfortable, versatile, fuel-efficient and reasonably priced. And it comes with this brand’s strong reputation for reliability andresale value.

Will the styling be different?

A revised grille and front fascia – perhaps with cues taken from this carmaker’s just-redesigned Fit – would update the nose. Different taillamp lenses could alter the rear appearance. What won’t change is the relatively boxy profile that helps deliver outstanding passenger space and above-average cargo volume. More sweeping revisions are likely for the cabin. Look for upgraded plastics and fabrics, maybe more padded surfaces, and improvements to the audio system that bring it abreast of the newer setups in some other Hondas. Look for a trim-grade repeat, ascending from LX, to EX, leather-upholstered EX-L, and a choice of top EX-L with a navigation system or with a DVD rear-entertainment setup.

Any mechanical changes?

A new gearbox is a possibility. A transition to the automaker’s “Earth Dreams” line of more advanced engines probably won’t come before the ’17 redesign. So it’ll continue with one powertrain, a 185-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder, apt to repeat at 185 horsepower. It could, however, link with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) in place of today’s five-speed automatic. A CVT provides near-infinite gear ratios and likely would improve fuel economy; it did when Honda made a similar switch in the 2014 Civic. Front-wheel drive should remain standard. Every CR-V would again be available with all-wheel drive (AWD), but as with most in its competitive set, it’s intended as an all-season traction aid, not for serious off-roading. Overall, though, this should remain a smart blend of car-like comfort and control, sure handling, and mechanical refinement. Antilock braking and antiskid stability control systems will remain standard. And neither a hybrid nor all-electric powertrain seems in the immediate future.

Will fuel economy improve?

With no move to a CVT, expect a repeat of 2014 EPA fuel-economy ratings: 23/31/26 mpg city/highway/combined with front-wheel drive and 22/30/25 with AWD. A CVT could potentially boost mileage ratings by 1-2 mpg.

Will it have new features?

The revamped interior could bring with it the larger dashboard touchscreen infotainment interface, and possibly Honda’s LaneWatch blind-spot video system. This mounts a small camera in the passenger side mirror and projects on the dash screen a view along the vehicle’s right side. It’s activated by a button or when the driver uses the turn signal to make a right turn or lane change. Otherwise, look for the LX to again come standard with air conditioning, cruise control, Bluetooth hands-free cellphone link, and a 160-watt 4-speaker stereo with Pandora interface. The EX should remain the most popular trim and add to the LX 17-inch alloy wheels upgraded 6-speaker audio system, and a power moonroof. EX-L would again add leather and a 328-watt 7-speaker audio with XM satellite radio, among other step-ups. It’ll likely again be the model to get if you want navigation or DVD rear entertainment. Expect every ’15 CR-V to again include Honda’s Easy Fold-Down 60/40 split rear seatback with release levers near the tailgate opening and pull straps at each rear door. Also onboard every version will be a rearview camera that provides a choice of three different views on the dashboard screen.

How will 2015 prices be different?

They’ll increase, but modestly. Estimated base prices here include the manufacturer’s destination fee, which is around $830. We project the LX to start around $23,950 and the EX around $26,100. Figure the ‘15 EX-L at around $28,700, $29,400 with rear entertainment, and $30,200 with navigation. To these estimates, add about $1,250 if you want AWD.

When will it come out?

Search online or visit a showroom around August 2014 and you should find it.

Best competitors

Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Rogue, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan

What change would make it better?

LaneWatch, a genuine adjunct to safety, whether you want to check for other vehicles in your right-side blind spot or are making a turn and want to be sure your path is free of unseen bicyclists or pedestrians. If it is available on the ’15 CR-V, we’d urge decision-makers to include it on every model — as we applaud them for doing with the rearview camera.

About Ed Piotrowski

Ed Piotrowski has more than a decade of experience as a community and automotive journalist. As a former editor for Consumer Guide Automotive, he wrote new car news and reviews for the publication's magazine and website. He served as the lead editor of Consumer Guide's auto show coverage, managed its short- and long-term vehicle test fleet, and made regular appearances on a suburban Chicago radio station. He is a member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association where he served as the lodging logistics manager for the organization's annual Spring Collection road rally. Ed writes from Chicago's northwest suburbs.