Honda crosses over and charges more
All-new CR-V comes to 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, along with an electric Fit.
First entering the market in 1995, Honda's CR-V has been a vanguard of the crossover/compact SUV segment through three generations of design. Now we're seeing the all-new fourth generation, the 2012 CR-V, here at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. What was once a boxlike or body has finally rounded out, and interior amenities are well-thought-out and executed. The 2012 Honda CR-V aims to carry its status as a mainstay of its class through this next generation, and appears fully equipped to do so.
Meanwhile, Honda's Fit electric vehicle is a logical enough progression for the model; it's powered by a 92-kilowatt-hour electric motor, alongside a 20-kWh lithium-ion battery.
2012 Honda CR-V
What is it? The benchmark entry-level SUV gets an all-new treatment with slightly more power under the hood and some impressive mileage numbers.
What's hot? Beyond the new CR-V's mileage — 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway — the interior is a cornucopia of tech conveniences: Bluetooth, SMS, Pandora, MP3, an LCD screen and all kinds of other features punch the value up that much higher.
What's not? The redesigned exterior on the 2012 Honda CR-V looks very nice from some angles and somewhat like a turtle gathering energy for a wind sprint from others. It's not all bad — it just comes off as a little disjointed at times.
How much and when? Prices will range from around $21,000 to $30,000 depending on trim and drivetrain. Expect to see the 2012 CR-V in showrooms by the end of 2011.
MSN Autos' verdict: If you're going to shop the small SUV or crossover market, you should certainly place the 2012 Honda CR-V at or near the top of your test-drive list. The amenities along with the better-than-expected efficiency and proven Honda reliability make the new CR-V a serious contender in its class.
2012 Honda Fit EV
What is it? It's the most logical use of electric power that Honda has ever made, as perhaps the most practical car in the company's lineup.
What's hot? It's not just hot, it's electric. No, but seriously. It's powered by the same 96-kWh motor of the FCX Clarity, and a combination of aerodynamics and lightweight steel help to maximize mileage. Meanwhile, smart systems help the driver further optimize range by allowing selective deactivation of the car's various electrics.
What's not? If you want to buy a Honda Fit EV, expect to pay $36,625, before tax credits, — a price that might make you seriously reconsider your commitment to the environment. At first, though, you'll only be able to lease in California and Oregon, for $399/month.
How much and when? See above. After all, what's not to like about an EV?
MSN Autos' verdict: We like the idea of the Fit EV. While it doesn't take electric to a new plateau, it could be the solid anchor that Honda needs to get back into the game. It's a bit pricey, though, which seems to be par for the course in the electric world. Lease it for the unique storage options. Love it for the cheap fuel.
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side as Senior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.