$10,930 - $14,714

2012 Honda CR-V Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Honda CR-V was new.


Performance: 7.8

Despite mechanical updates that make the 2012 Honda CR-V’s engine slightly more powerful and more fuel-efficient, many test drivers are still disappointed with the powertrain because unlike many competitors, the CR-V doesn’t have an optional turbocharged or V6 engine, and it doesn’t have a six-speed automatic transmission.

  • "The 2012 Honda CR-V features a smoother ride and a quieter cabin than last year's model, giving it a more refined feeling overall." -- Edmunds
  • "The drivetrain is disappointing. Despite better mpg and a little more power, the four-cylinder vibrates a bit at low speed and idle, enough to spark murmurs of dissatisfaction from passengers. The automatic transmission remains a five-speed. Honda says that's sufficient, that a six-speed's not needed, nor is the additional cost." -- USA Today 

Acceleration and Power

If you ask a test driver what’s wrong with the 2012 Honda CR-V’s powertrain, his first response will probably be that Honda doesn’t offer more powerful engine options. That’s one of the main complaints the CR-V gets, even though Honda made a few mechanical adjustments to the engine to increase horsepower and make the CR-V more fuel-efficient. The 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder engine makes 185 horsepower, which is five more than the outgoing CR-V, and good for the class. While a few reviewers say there’s no need for an upgrade, most craved a turbocharged or V6 engine when they needed to pass on the highway or trudge up a hill.

Reviewers also want Honda to update the transmission. A five-speed automatic is standard, but test drivers are positive that a six-speed would enhance performance. Currently, the EPA rates two-wheel drive models at 23/31 mpg city/highway. Models with optional all-wheel drive average 22/30 mpg.

  • "Run up on a surprisingly slow truck on the freeway, and you'd better have a long opening behind you in the left lane. When you pop out to pass and give the CR-V the boot, it's going to need a lot of time to get up to speed." -- Car and Driver  
  • "It's not quick from a stop, especially compared with other compact rivals that offer V6 engines, but CR-V never feels underpowered. The transmission is smooth and prompt. The redesigned all-wheel drive system works well and limits wheel slip by directing power to the rear wheels before slip occurs. … This setting (Eco Assist) makes CR-V feel very slow in around-town traffic." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Though it certainly holds its own against competing four-cylinder-powered crossovers, there's not a whole lot of low-end power in the 2012 Honda CR-V; it's hard to ignore the fact that a V6 upgrade isn't available." -- Edmunds 
  • "There's also no need for anything larger or more powerful than the CR-V's revvy 4-banger. It goes about its work with a pleasant mechanical zing that reminds us Honda is a classic engine-oriented carmaker." -- Road and Track
  • “But there were many times in our drive that the gearbox didn't downshift for needed acceleration, which it might have been able to do with six gear ratios. No matter how good Honda's five-speed becomes, a six-speed with the same level of development would be better." -- USA Today

Handling and Braking

Overall, most test drivers think the 2012 CR-V has a car-like ride with precise handling, a tight turning radius, strong brakes and a smooth on-pavement ride that puts the CR-V at the top of its class. One reviewer offers criticism, and says the CR-V won’t make you think you’re driving a car because it is bouncy, and its steering is loose.

  • "CR-V is compact-car maneuverable and reasonably fun to drive. Body lean in fast turns is kept in check. The steering is nicely weighted, communicative, and accurate. The brakes provide very good stopping control." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the plus side, the crossover distinguishes itself by offering steering and handling that are sharper and more rewarding than most of the competition's." -- Edmunds
  • "I tested an all-wheel-drive model through hilly California roads in various states of smoothness, disrepair and open construction. The new model handles these road conditions smoothly, without the undulations of the previous generation." -- Cars.com
  • "The CR-V offered a smooth yet nimble ride for a crossover, but it definitely won't feel like you're driving a sedan. At times the steering felt a little loose, and the ride a little bouncy--but again, it's a crossover and not a car." -- CNET

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