The 2017 Honda CR-V compact crossover utility vehicle was unveiled today, featuring more fuel-efficient powertrains, evolutionary styling ... and a volume knob for the radio.

That latter detail may seem minor, but widespread complaining about the lack of such a knob was one of the few criticisms of the otherwise well-received new Honda Civic last year.

Honda's presenting the new CR-V as a vast upgrade over its hugely popular—if slightly dowdy, in our view—predecessor.

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The lines of the new CR-V aren't revolutionary; its most significant visual feature is a different shape for the third window on each side.

The front bumper that appears to jut out a little more than before, and there's more complex detailing around its headlamps.

The CR-V will again be available in in LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring trim levels.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

The powertrains have almost entirely changed from the 2016 version, however, to keep Honda at the forefront of steadily rising fuel-economy rules.

Only a single version, the base CR-V LX model, is not turbocharged. It uses a carryover 2.4-liter inline-4 that delivers 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque.

All other versions will use a version of the 1.5-liter, direct-injected inline-4 that debuted in the Civic last year.

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It's rated at 190 horsepower and 179 pound-feet of torque, slightly more than its 185 hp, 181 lb-ft predecessor. But crucially, full torque is available from only 2000 rpm, for ease of use in suburban kid-hauling duty.

Both engines will be mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), with front-wheel drive standard and all-wheel drive optional on all trim levels. 

No fuel-economy ratings, even estimates, are available yet. But all versions will feature an active grille-shutter system to improve the CR-V's aerodynamics.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

Roomiest interior

Honda says that despite a length of 181 inches (average for the class), its 2017 CR-V will have the roomiest cabin in its class, plus more rear-seat leg room than any competitor.

Rear seat leg room rises by more than 2 inches, and cargo space gains 9 inches.

The Civic donates a design for the center console, featuring a vertical row of buttons.

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Technology options offered on some models include an Android-powered 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda promises a new navigation system, a welcome upgrade.

All 2017 Honda CR-Vs will come with power windows, mirrors, and locks; single-zone automatic climate control; remote entry; Bluetooth; and a 5.0-inch LCD screen audio system with four speakers. 

The mid-level EX, expected to be the volume model, adds the turbo engine, heated front seats, a power driver's seat, a moonroof, a 7.0-inch infotainment system touchscreen display, dual-zone climate control, tinted windows, and fog lights.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V

On top of that, the EX-L trim level layers on leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, memory for the driver's seat, an upgraded eight-speaker audio system, and the option of a built-in navigation system.

The top of the CR-V line is the Touring model, with a power liftgate, heated rear seats, LED headlamps, and a nine-speaker audio system, and they come standard with the navigation that's optional on the EX-L.

On the safety front, the automaker's Honda Sensing suite of active-safety systems will be standard on EX and above trim levels, or about three-quarters of all CR-Vs sold.

It includes lane-departure warning, lane-sway assistance, adaptive cruise control that can keep the car moving in stop-and-go traffic, and automatic emergency braking that can sense pedestrians. Some models will offer optional blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and automatic high beam headlamps.

Fitting this suite as standard counters a similar move by rival Toyota, which has made a much wider suite of safety systems standard on much of its 2017 lineup.

Pricing for the 2017 Honda CR-V crossover will be announced closer to its on-sale date early next year.


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