It’s easy to see why Honda CR-V is a favorite

The CR-V compact crossover utility vehicle was significantly renovated for 2012 and Honda hasn’t done much with it since, other than watch the sales figures ratcheting upward. The CR-V is a perennial favorite among car buyers, and it’s easy to understand why. It is a practical, pretty, roomy, functional and fuel-efficient car. And it’s a Honda.

For model-year 2013, the CR-V was the best-selling SUV in the U.S. The 2014 model is a carryover. Trim levels still include LX, EX and EX-L, all with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. There are also two upgraded versions of the EX-L, one with a rear-seat entertainment system, the other with navigation. Both of these are also available in 2WD or AWD configuration.

All models are moderately propelled by a 185-horsepower four-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission. With 2WD, fuel economy ratings are 23 mpg city and 31 mpg highway; with AWD the numbers are 22/30.

Base pricing, including an $830 destination charge, starts at $23,775 for a 2WD LX and ends at $31,275 for an EX-L with AWD and navigation.

Among the more notable standard features on the LX are a rearview camera, cruise control, Bluetooth, one-pull fold-flat rear seats, and a 160-watt four-speaker audio system with Pandora.

The EX trim adds a power moonroof and 17-inch alloy wheels, and upgrades the sound system to a six-speaker setup. In addition to that, the EX-L comes with a leather-trimmed interior and a 328-watt seven-speaker sound system with XM satellite radio.

My CR-V tester was the full-boat AWD EX-L with navigation. Some of the amenities it harbors as standard equipment are dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, steering-wheel-mounted controls, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, and fog lights.

The CR-V exterior’s only physical flaw is its quirky front end, which resembles the toe of a Keen shoe. It’s tough to find fault with the five-passenger interior, however. The windshield and side windows are tall and wide, providing great visibility. Controls are commendably designed and positioned for ease of use. The proliferation of handy stowage bins, pockets and cubbies – no space is wasted – gives the impression that the designer was a consultant from The Container Store. I especially liked the two-bin arrangement in the front doors: There is the usual bin near the bottom of the door, plus another smaller one above it.

Rear-seat passengers are treated to ample legroom even though front passengers are too, and there’s still a giant (for a compact SUV) cargo area behind them. The bottom of the cargo area is quite low to the ground, but the space itself is tall. So, loading and unloading is much easier for short people than with other SUVs, but tall people can stand upright without bashing their head on the liftgate.

The one-pull rear seat fold-down system is another joy to encounter. It’s a breeze to operate – quick, effortless and graceful.

2014 HONDA CR-V AWD EX-L WITH NAVIGATION

Base price, including destination charge: $31,275

Price as driven: $31,275

Mary Lowry has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild and a board member of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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