Don’t feel bad if you need a guide to spot all the differences between the fifth-gen Honda CR-V and the outgoing model.
Having proven its worth where it counts – on the showroom floors, with 345,647 fourth-generation CR-Vs sold in the U.S. alone last year, Honda took the decision to polish instead of reinvent its compact crossover.
At first glance, the new model’s busy design seems almost identical to its predecessor, to the point that a casual observer might even think that it’s a facelift, but once you delve into the details, it becomes more clear that we’re talking about two separate iterations. Sure, the shape remained the same, but everything else was updated.
The front fascia, for instance, adopted a cleaner look; the fog lamps migrated to the bottom portion of the bumper, while Honda also re-arranged the chromed, contrasting elements in clusters, making the grille more dominant. The air vent below the logo has increased in size, while the headlamps (which appear like they are an extension of the upper grille) contribute to the clean design.
On the side, things are more familiar, with the CR-V rocking almost the same design cues. There’s a chrome strip on the new model, which together with the smaller side mirrors, make it seem more slender. Moreover, the rear quarter panels are more bloated, and separated from the vehicle’s derriere.
Around the back, the CR-V obtained some sportier cues, including more contemporary tail-lamps that now extend horizontally on the tailgate and which represent the biggest design change. It also gets bumper-integrated exhaust pipes and a relocated license plate holder.
Inside, Honda has tried to simplify the design. The climate control functions are still where you’d expect them to be (just above the gear shifter), but everything else was re-arranged. For instance, the clumsy center screen flanked by two air vents has now been replaced with a cleaner screen that governs the entire console, while most users will hail the return of the physical volume knob.
The steering wheel was revised, while the instrument cluster gained digital LCDs. Attesting to the CR-V’s newfound style are the (optional) wood trim inserts and the leather-covered dash.
All in all, Honda took the CR-V to the next level with (what may seem) minor, but effective modifications. It looks like the CR-V is growing along with the segment, and the customers, slowly, but steadily becoming more “serious” as it ages.