The 2011 Honda CR-V remains offered in LE, EX and EX-L models; all are powered by a 180-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine and have a 5-speed automatic transmission. There's a choice of front-wheel drive or Real Time all-wheel drive--a system that sends power to the front wheels most of the time for fuel efficiency, and sending more to the back as needed.
With car-based underpinnings and unibody construction with weight-saving high-strength steel--plus a suspension that employs struts in front and a multi-link setup in back--the CR-V rides and handles like a much smaller car.
As with most vehicles in this class, interior space and flexibility is one of the priorities, and the CR-V surprises with almost minivan-like versatility. The second row is split 60/40, but the seatback itself is split 40/20/40 to allow an occupant in the second row while it's folded flat for longer objects, and with all of the second row folded and tumbled forward there's a flat floor measuring about 51 by 39 inches. There's also a center tray table that folds down (or on the EX-L an elaborate center console for storage. On EX and EX-L models there's a dual-deck cargo shelf good for strollers, and all CR-Vs include LATCH child-seat positions in all three rear positions--allowing two seats to be mounted in the outboard positions or just one in the middle.
The CR-V has also been strong on safety, earning top marks from both U.S. crash-test programs, including a Top Safety Pick accolade from the IIHS. The CR-V includes standard active front-seat head restraints, front side airbags, side-curtain bags, electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with Brake Assist.
The LX is somewhat basic but includes most of the conveniences everyone wants: air conditioning, keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, telescopic steering and a CD sound system with four speakers. EX models step up to a moonroof, security system, dual-deck cargo shelf, larger alloy wheels, steering-wheel audio controls and an upgraded audio system with six speakers and a CD changer. And at the top of the range, the EX-L gets leather upholstery, heated seats and a center-console storage unit.
Available as an upgrade on the EX-L only is a navigation system with voice recognition, packaged with more audio upgrades including a USB interface, XM Satellite Radio and seven speakers.
New for 2011 is a special edition (SE) model that prices between the LX and EX trims and adds alloy wheels, a 6-disc changer and steering-wheel audio controls to the LX equipment.
After an extensive round of equipment and feature upgrades last year, including more power, a newly available Bluetooth interface, and a mild design refresh, the Honda CR-V is carried over into 2011 mostly unchanged. The only major change is the introduction of a new special edition (SE) model that will slot between the LX and EX trims and include some but not all of the EX extras.