The Honda CR-V has been one of America's most popular compact SUVs for many years now, and for 2015, it's received a number of updates to keep it competitive.

As well as styling updates and improvements to the interior, the 2015 Honda CR-V features an updated engine and a new continuously variable transmission (CVT)--all in the name of increased fuel efficiency.

Compared to last year's CR-V, the 2015 model is up 3 miles per gallon on the combined ratings for both its front- and all-wheel-drive versions.

The FWD base CR-V is now rated at 29 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 34 mpg highway), while adding all-wheel drive reduces the ratings to 28 mpg combined (26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway).

The 2014 model was rated at 26 mpg or 25 mpg combined, respectively.

DON'T MISS: 2015 Honda CR-V: Full Review

We drove the 2015 Honda CR-V during its launch event in early October, and spent a long weekend with the new model about six weeks ago.

Over 470 miles of our usual drive cycle, plus a couple of extra loops, the car delivered 27.6 miles per gallon, according to its in-dash display.

2015 Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR-V

(Our test period wasn't long enough to run several tanks of gas through the vehicle to measure more accurately.)

That 27.6 mpg is pretty much right on the nose for our AWD model's 28-mpg combined rating.

But given that two-thirds to three-quarters of our distance was covered at highway speeds, we'd have expected it to be slightly higher than that.

ALSO SEE: 2015 Subaru Outback: Gas Mileage Review Of Crossover Wagon Utility Vehicle

On the other hand, the 185-horsepower direct-injected four-cylinder engine has to work fairly hard to move the 3,600-pound CR-V AWD Touring model we tested, despite the wide range of ratios possible with its new CVT.

We spent time in Eco mode and Normal mode, concluding that while the Eco mode is sluggish, it's tolerable in many circumstances other than those requiring maximum power.

To get that maximum acceleration requires essentially flooring the accelerator and keeping it there, rather than the sprightlier accelerator response of Normal mode.

Overall, we conclude that Honda's new powertrain trades off some performance for better fuel efficiency--but that in the CR-V, your real-world mileage can be notably affected by how hard you drive.

And, frankly, we weren't driving all that hard. It's not the nature of most crossover utilities to invite hard driving.

Roomy, smart design

The CR-V's strengths are its substantial interior room for the footprint it occupies and its inherent practicality as a family vehicle.

2015 Honda CR-V

2015 Honda CR-V

A few notes from an autumn weekend behind the wheel:

  • The easy-to-fold rear seats are among the best in the business, giving you a low cargo floor with 71 cubic feet of volume with the seat down, 35 cu ft with the rear seat upright
  • The redesigned interior console is very useful, with lots of space for oddments: trays, cubbies, cupholders, and a large compartment under the elbow rest
  • The ride is smooth and comfortable
  • Unlike other Honda models known for fun driving, we found the 2015 CR-V slow and a touch ponderous on the road, with more suspension yaw and body roll than we expected
  • As noted in the full review (linked above), we continue to consider Honda's Lane Keeping Assist feature as only marginally effective
  • Its adaptive cruise control was also significantly less capable than those in other makes, with an apparently shorter range of recognition and sudden deceleration once it noticed a vehicle ahead
  • We were startled to get a "Low Fuel" warning light after just a bit more than 300 miles; the tank holds 15.3 gallons, which at 28 mpg should be 420 miles, but perhaps Honda is being conservative
  • We still dislike pendant parking brakes--or, more accurately, our left shin hates them--but we know we're never going to win that battle

Overall, we think the 2015 Honda CR-V is a good choice for families that value practicality--and decent fuel efficiency in its segment--over responsiveness and handling.

Our 2015 Honda CR-V AWD Touring test car, the top-of-the-line model, carried a base price of $32,770. The only additional charge was the $830 mandatory destination fee, bringing its bottom line to $33,600.


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