2017 Honda CR-V: What’s Behind Scrimpy Words?

When you read Honda’s press releases about the new 2017 CR-V you start to get the idea what inspired this makeover. Although I’m among those enthusiasts who would like to proclaim car design as a legit art branch, it seems that those who are in charge of Honda redesigns have never shared our romantic point of view. Their press releases were always composed in a modest, scrimpy tone, without usual pompous adjectives and unmeasured boasting – which is a commonplace in the business – but, except from portraying the company as a well-mannered bunch of people, the CR-V releases also reveal something else: they’re desperate to make the next-gen CR-V the ultimate bestseller. How do we know that? Well…


The fact that I insist on analyzing their press releases isn’t without a purpose, as this can help us see the hidden anatomy of the new CR-V redesign. After almost four million units sold in the U.S. since the introduction back in 1997, all they had to say about the new appearance and body changes of the fifth generation  CR-V has been compressed in five sentences. And instead of talking about the crossover’s smooth and silky skin that perfectly suits the new body whose seductive lines are revealing the dynamic spirit embodied inside and – with powerful help of the new, smart, and eloquent body language – the emotion hidden inside has been summoned to the surface for the whole world to see, making your blood rush through the veins as you stand lusting in front of the new Honda CR-V, they gave us an engineer’s checklist. Word for word:

“The new CR-V styling heads in a fresh new direction with an aggressive attitude, thanks to crisp and sharp front-end design elements, aggressive stylized headlights surrounded by a wing-shaped LED DRL array on all trims, and wide, muscular fenders. The long hood, longer wheelbase, short rear overhang and dual exhausts give the new CR-V a more sophisticated and athletic presence.


The CR-V’s new windswept front end appearance includes signature Honda LED headlights (Touring trim), a Honda-first Active Shutter Grille that lowers aerodynamic drag, uprated aluminum alloy wheels (sizes 17 to 18 inches depending on trim) and narrower A-pillars for improved visibility. Adding convenience is a Honda-first available Hands-Free Access Power Tailgate, which allows opening and closing the tailgate with a foot activated sensor under the rear of the vehicle. Available Auto High Beam with High Beam Support (HSS) headlights, chrome garnishes, rain-sensing windshield wipers, roof rails and numerous Genuine Honda Accessories also expand beauty, convenience and functionality.”

2017 Honda CR-V

It has happened to all of us. You walk down the street without a single worry on your mind, whistling your favorite Sinatra tune, thinking about your next holiday trip, and – wham! Out of nowhere, a brand new crossover comes into your vision. You’ve never seen it before or at least not in person. Amazed, you look at the majestic sculpture glimmering on the afternoon light. The first instinct is, of course, to identify it and the very second thought is: ‘Gosh, if I were to carry a really large box with both of my hands, wouldn’t it be great if this crossover had a foot activated sensor under the rear of the vehicle?’

At the premiere, Jeff Conrad, Honda Senior Vice President, was trying to put us in the picture of the 2017MY development. He said they weren’t only using the crossover’s close rivals as a benchmark, but they went the extra mile, so they have used the BMW X3 along with some other luxury models as a benchmark for “ride quality, steering, body control and NVH”. They were trying to create a vehicle that will certainly be dominant in its market niche. Is that bad? Not at all. But, this is just a depiction of how they were looking at this project.

And it’s obvious where their priorities lie. They did their homework and they have analyzed every single aspect of the market, which led to assembling a really desireable vehicle and here it is. Voila! Probably, the 2017 Honda CR-V will be a bestseller. There’s no reason not to.

2017 Honda CR-V

2017 Honda CR-V Suffered an Evolutionary Redesign

The next-gen CR-V is coming with wider stance and longer wheelbase. Those fundamental changes make the crossover’s appearance more robust and intimidating. However, the new CR-V probably won’t be your first choice if you’re an outlaw who has to flee from the powerful grasp of justice. The new exterior features were made to make the next generation more attractive, sexier and more assertive, but the distinct Honda CR-V design language is still present in large quantities. That’s why the new generation looks like an afterthought the designer of the previous model had. Of course, only a complete ignorant or a helpless dreamer would think that every new generation has to be designed from scratch. Inheriting a well-established and recognizable design is a rule of thumb in the industry and it’s benefical for the automakers, the buyers and for the automotive design in general. It’s only a matter of taste how the old and the new features blend together.

We must say, despite the cold calculated approach to the entire enterprise, the automaker actually succeeded in creating a pretty impressive redesign. In stuff like design, where imagination and emotions play a significant role, analytical approach might not be the best one. You can end up with a pretty handsome vehicle, it can be success, the investors would be happy, but nothing else. Yes, this implies there’s more to this business. Is there more?

Back in the sixties, the Lamborghini Miura started its journey on the roads. Arguably the most beautiful car ever wasn’t just a mere blueprint for all the supercars. Its engine position was a revolution, and without it, we probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the Mclaren P1, Pagani Huayra or Bugatty Veyron today. The mid-engine layout is a great accomplishment, but the Miura’s appearance is what amazes the most. It’s still dream like the way it was when its wheels touched the Italian tarmac for the first time. Of course, it doesn’t have the same stunning effect the way it did in the sixties, when it looked like a visitor from the distant future, but its curves and general shape are equally appealing half a century later, just like Sinatra whose tunes we like to whistle and who was one of the proud owners of the Miura.


The car had many flaws. After all, it was just a bold concept that made it to the production stage, but that’s not the point. We, the humans, are not just rational beings. If that was the case, it would be so easy. We would choose the most efficient and the most convenient way of transport. Your neighbor just bought a new Carrera? Better call 911, the man is sick. But, in this purely rational world there would be no one who would even consider building a Carrera in the first place.

The Verdict

So, the 2017 Honda CR-V is really a good looking crossover. Proud of its heritage and the tradition of being a reliable and beloved crossover to the millions of Americans, the new generation shows off its DNA, but its new design clearly states that it is also a superb piece of automotive engineering at that price. Its design innovations are really good. I admit, at first I thought it looks like the fourth-gen’s rich cousin with its mandible unfortunately dislocated, but after a careful consideration it all clicked. All the new design elements are just where they should be. The overall appearance is contemporary, sleek and fashionable, especially the rear end which won’t get outdated any time soon. It’s bigger, it’s muscular enough and a bit fancy. It looks capable and smart at the same time. It oozes confidence, not the kind of smug confidence some other crossovers have, but a cultivated, sophisticated kind. If you want a useful, good looking and efficient crossover, manufactured in the U.S., this is the one and you should order one without hesitation.

2017 Honda CR-V

On the other hand, the same automaker manufactures the Acura NSX. They’ve been trying for years to introduce the Acura brand to the country club of the automotive industry where all the premium brands gather on Sunday brunches for a round of gossiping and golf. The NSX is a state-of-the-art vehicle, it is a remarkable flagship, but they should’ve probably considered inverting this hierarchy by offering their impressive R&D resources to the lower-class models. It’s really great they took a leaf out of the BMW’s book, but such a huge renowned automaker, which manufactures distinctive vehicles in every single segment, probably shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon when they’re developing one of the most important vehicles in the most rapidly emerging niche. Imagine they have crafted the 2017 CR-V the way they could, instead of following the template the market set. They would probably lose a certain number of potential buyers with this generation, but the reward in the long run would be immense.

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