2020 Honda CR-V Review (Is This the Best Small Crossover?)

Honda’s compact crossover remains a safe bet.

Shopping for a new vehicle is never easy, as there are so many makes, models, trims, and package options to consider. Even if you narrow the list considerably, there’s always the risk you’ll drive away with something less than the ideal vehicle.

But searching for a Honda means you’re virtually guaranteed to find one that fits your budget and will last a long time. This automaker’s reputation precedes it, as it continues to build on nearly 50 years of trust.

The compact Honda CR-V crossover utility vehicle is one of the best-selling models from this manufacturer and remains a safe bet for consumers.

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2020 Honda CR-V Review

Honda offers the 2020 CR-V in LX ($25,070), EX ($27,560), EX-L ($30,050), and Touring ($33,250) trims. Add $1,120 for the destination charge.

The CR-V has standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive, the latter a $1,500 upgrade. This model seats five.


The CR-V offers a somewhat sporty design with its big grille and stylish headlights. Its lower-grille opening is handsome and absent of chrome. Long sweeping character lines adorn its profile, while the rear is dominated by boomerang taillamps. These remind us of Volvo, but the design is not a mere copy.

The list of standard features includes halogen headlights with automatic on/off, power side mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a black roof-line spoiler. It’s a basic package, that is for certain.

Beginning with the EX trim, the features list expands tremendously. This is where fog lights appear along with a power-sliding moonroof. Honda also adds rear privacy glass, heated side mirrors with turn signal indicators, 18-inch wheels, keyless entry, and variable wipers.

The EX-L trim adds the power liftgate, which upgrades to hands-free control at the Touring level.

The Touring trim pulls out all the stops as it includes rain-sensing wipers, LED headlights, roof rails, 19-inch wheels, and dual chrome exhaust finishers. It has the best look of the four trims, but you’ll pay for it.


Honda equips the 2020 CR-V with full power accessories, a tilt-and-telescopic steering column, cloth seats, and automatic climate control.

Move up to the EX trim and Honda adds illuminated vanity mirrors, push-button start, dual-zone climate control, a power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front seats, and a retractable cargo cover. The EX-L comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, leather-trimmed seats, and a power-controlled front passenger seat.

At the Touring level, Honda adds a heated steering wheel and ambient lighting.

We found the CR-V’s interior spacious, nicely appointed, and very comfortable. In fact, we felt that in many ways it was on par with the Accord, which is Honda’s beautiful midsize sedan.

The driver and cabin controls are set high, while the storage compartments are found low. The dashboard is cleanly layered with more soft-touch materials present than plastics. The Touring trim adds special design details, such as console surround that increases this model’s visual appeal.

The storage space behind the second row measures 39.2 cubic feet and that’s more room than what some midsize models supply. Fold down the rear seat and the storage capacity mushrooms to 75.8 cubic feet. There’s plenty of room for your yard sale finds as well as extra space for luggage.

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The CR-V earns a Top Safety Pick rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS gives this Honda top scores in all crash-test modules. Its top rating is earned with the Touring edition as it has the best headlights.

The NHTSA gives the CR-V a top 5-star rating based on its performance in frontal crash, side crash, and rollover strength.

Under the Honda Sensing umbrella, the CR-V comes with several driver-assist features. Happily, they’re standard and include the following: forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a collision mitigation braking system, and a road departure mitigation system.

You’ll also find lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control. Move away from the base model and Honda adds a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic monitor.

We laud Honda for making its driver-assist suite available across the model line.


The standard tech features include a 4-speaker audio system and a 5-inch color LCD screen. Bluetooth connectivity and one USB port are also standard. This is a bare-bones system, but we hardly ever recommend the base model for any vehicle anyway.

Beginning with the EX trim, Honda rolls out a 6-speaker audio system and a 7-inch touch-screen display. Satellite radio, HD Radio, Honda Link apps, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and two USB ports are included.

With the EX-L, Honda brings in an 8-speaker audio system. The Touring trim welcomes navigation, a wireless phone charger, and a 9-speaker audio system. We’re a fan of wireless phone chargers, but we’re disappointed it isn’t offered on any other trims. We rarely recommend the top-trim model and that’s the case here.


Powering every Honda CR-V is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Its footprint is small, but its performance suits this compact SUV.

With an output of 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque, this engine delivers more power than the Nissan Rogue’s naturally aspirated engine. The CR-V’s engine works with a continuously variable transmission to send power to the wheels.

We found the CR-V’s step-off power sufficient and its passing power was quite good. You can’t ignore the transmission as the arrangement utilizes a long band instead of individual cogs like an automatic.

At times, the engine was noisy, but the transmission soon adjusted, keeping the sound to an acceptable din. The CR-V offers light steering and responsive handling along with decent ride comfort.

Utilizing a CVT was a smart move for Honda as this powertrain arrangement yields about 30 mpg on most trims. You can tow with the CR-V as well, pulling up to 1,500 pounds when properly equipped. On the other hand, the Ford Escape’s towing capacity starts at 1,500 and rises to 3,500 pounds on some trims.

Competitive Set

The Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue are the CR-V’s strongest competitors. But there are many other models to consider in this segment, including the Subaru Forester (with standard all-wheel-drive), Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Escape, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Hyundai Tucson, and the Kia Sportage.

Our Recommendation

Begin your search with the EX and you’ll find most of the amenities you want. That said, the EX-L probably offers the best value as it fills in a few missing features as mentioned previously.

As always, we think the vast majority of customers will find the standard front-wheel-drive arrangement acceptable. But choose all-wheel drive if you live in a snowy climate or at least prefer the handling edge this system supplies.

In all, we can’t recommend a better SUV than the CR-V. We know the category is crowded, but Honda’s reputation for reliability and long-term value make this one a top contender amongst compact SUVs.

2020 Honda CR-V Specifications

Honda 2020 CR-V
Segment Compact SUV
Price Range $25,050 to $33,250
Destination Charge $1,120
Standard Engine 1.5-liter, I4 turbo
Horsepower 190 @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (lb.-ft.) 179 @ 2,000-5,000 rpm
Transmission CVT
Seating 5
Curb Weight (pounds) From 3,337 to 3,455
Wheelbase (inches) 104.8
Length (inches) 182.1
Width (inches) 73.0
Height (inches) 66.1
Head room (f,r…inches) 40.1, 39.2
Legroom (f,r…inches) 41.3, 40.4
Shoulder room (f,r…inches) 57.9, 55.6
Hip room (f,r…inches) 55.1, 49.5
Storage (cubic feet) 39.2, 75.8
Gross vehicle weight rating (pounds) NR
Towing (pounds) 1,500
Payload (pounds) NR
Fuel regular
Fuel Tank (gallons) 14.0
EPA Fuel MPG (city/highway/combined) 28/34/30 (2WD); 27/32/29(AWD)
Manufacturing Plant Greensburg, Indiana

Data compiled by Tom Keegan. Specifications supplied by the manufacturer.

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Photos copyright Auto Trends Magazine. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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