2017 Honda CR-V: Is Beefier Always Better?

I’ve become something of a Honda CR-V evangelist to the women in my Pilates classes and book club. I’ve owned three of them in the last 10 years and whenever I’m asked for car advice I invariably recommend the CR-V compact SUV because of its “perfect fit.”

So I was surprised at my reaction to the all-new, fifth-generation 2017 Honda CR-V that I recently tested. It’s slightly larger than the old version and has a roomier cabin, but it felt a little too big and masculine — kind of like the subtle but noteworthy difference between a pair of NYDJ jeans and a pair of Levis.

It also looks beefier and more like a conventional SUV. The new version is described by the company as heading “in a fresh new direction with an aggressive attitude,” including things like “wide, muscular fenders and a long hood.”

But what about women like me who don’t want to convey an aggressive attitude and are secretly okay with a vehicle that reminds them of their favorite household appliance? I wondered if other women would have the same reaction to the changes once they take their emotional temperature in the 2017 version. I also ditched my Lexus RX 350 years ago when Toyota adopted the same approach and made that luxury SUV too masculine and unappealing when compared to the original.

However, I was impressed with some upgrades in the CR-V, including a return to an audio system with an old-school rotary volume knob and a less intrusive blind-spot monitoring system on my test car. My current CR-V has the distracting video feed on the center display whenever you activate the right turn signal. It’s called LaneWatch and I was glad to see that go.

My test CR-V is the high-end, all-wheel-drive version with the vehicle’s first turbocharged engine, an impressive 1.5-liter inline four-cylinder that delivers 190 horsepower. My test vehicle is priced at $34,635, including a $940 destination charge. The base model starts at $24,985, including shipping.

What advice will I give to my friends in the future? Some may want to comparison shop a used CR-V with the new one to figure out which is a better fit.

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