2012 Honda CR-V EX-L Review

2012 Honda CR-V EX-L AWD.

I have recommended the Honda CR-V for many years when someone asks about a small SUV. It has always been in my top 3 most recommended. I have been critical of Honda at times for not changing their products quickly enough, and I thought they should have updated the CR-V for the 2011 model year, but it was a few months ago when the 2012 debuted. This is not a critical statement, but Honda played it safe with the 2012, and it’s hard to blame them given the record of CR-V reliability.

I have the 2012 Honda CR-V EX-L all-wheel drive version this week. This is the top of the line CR-V and from an exterior view, you notice some changes for 2012 that sort of jump out at you, specifically from the rear and sides. It is hard to believe that CR-V was first introduced in 1995 and the 2012 is the 4th generation. It is lighter for better fuel economy, a little smaller on the outside, but slightly larger on the inside.

You get the 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is good in town and on the highway, even with all-wheel drive.

The EX-L package gets you Navigation system, Bluetooth, upgraded stereo, moonroof, rearview camera and heated, leather seats. The interior is nice, nothing over the top, but it is a compact SUV and the seats are comfortable, the leather very nice. There is a lot of cargo room in the back and it is huge with the rear seats down. Major kudos to Honda for the ease of operating the back seat. Pull one strap, and the seats fold down easier than any small SUV I’ve been in.

Driving dynamics are nothing special, to be honest, but the CR-V is about fuel economy and reliability, and there is no doubt in my mind people who buy the CR-V will be pleased with both.

I will continue to recommend the CR-V, but there were several disappointments. One is road noise, I find it to be noisier inside than some of the others. I wish too that Honda had gone to a 6-speed automatic, but they improved the fuel economy for 2012 so that helps. Last, there is an Economy button that you can push to maximize your gas mileage, but when you do, it limits the air conditioning and you really have to push for acceleration.

The CR-V is a wildly reliable small SUV. It is not sexy, it is just a good quality, good gas mileage, nice small SUV that is sort of like the Energized Bunny…it just goes and goes and goes.

  • What I liked most: Fuel economy and record of reliability.
  • What I would change: More insulation and a 6-speed automatic.
  • MSRP: As tested, $30,605-fully loaded.
  • Fuel Economy: Rated at 22 City/30 Highway, doing better in town.
  • 2012 CR-V EX-L in a few words: Very reliable SUV with good room inside.

Photo Credit: Honda

  1. Bill Redman 6 years ago

    I have always liked the CR-V, however, the “plus” items were never enough to overcome the road noise issue. I purchased a used 2011 Hyundai Tucson Limited after reading about the revised suspension on the Limited beginning in 2011. In addition, I added Michelin 60,000 mile tires for a better ride. Not as smooth and quiet as my wife’s 2010 Lexus RX 350, but better than most small SUV’s. I previously had a 2005 Tucson (first year small SUV) and never had any problems.

  2. Randall Starks 6 years ago

    Then I would expect the Mazda CX-5 to compete handily with the CR-V; although no leather seating in the Mazda (boo). Is this SkyActiv-G thing for real or did they just torque out the engine and EFI system to boost gas mileage?
    Thus, why would anyone pay $30K+ for a under powered 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed automatic transmission?
    MSRP: $28,295* – 2013 CX-5 Grand Touring – AWL 6 speed transmission.

    • Randall Starks 6 years ago

      OOPs sorry CX-5 does come with leather!

  3. kathye c. 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this information. I told my husband I was going to call you before we purchased our next auto. We currently own a fantastic 2002 Honda accord[with everything they offered back then]It is black with grey leather interior 135,00 miles.
    Because our Honda has been such a great car, we were really entertaining the idea of the CR-V.
    I was especially interested in your comment about noise[it is a complaint[the only one] well that and the passenger seat isn’t that comfortable, also the keys dangle down and tickle my knees in the summer.
    My question, I am looking for a medium sized SUV that will carry 4 passengers with 4 sets of clubs and possibly a little luggage? Good mileage, quiet, plus heated seats, navigational options and outside temp reading. Price is also important, we are retired with a limited income. What would be your pick?
    Hope I wasn’t too windy.
    I love listening to your show on Saturdays.

    • Jerry 6 years ago


      Good to hear from you, I think the Ford Edge would be a good choice for you. It’s a super good SUV, it’s quiet, and you’ll have plenty of cargo room.

      Let me know how I can help! I have good Ford dealers all over.

      Jerry Reynolds “The Car Pro”

  4. Tom Franklin 6 years ago

    I have a 2008 CR-V, and I too was bothered by the road noise. But I found that much of it came from the factory Bridgestone tires that came with the car. When I replaced them with a set of Michelin tires, I found the road noise was cut in half. The only other complaint with that model was that the rear seats tumbled forward and did not allow for as much cargo room as possible. That has also been addressed in the 2012 model. Otherwise, I am a very satisfied Honda owner.

  5. Willa 6 years ago

    I don’t drive a CR-V, however bought my first Honda Accord in 1986 then another one in the 90’s. Bought a 2006 Civic and that was a mistake, too much road noise, hard seat and a headrest that is too close to the back of my head!! I will NOT buy another Honda simply because of road noise and the headrest. I had to take the headrest out and turn it around facing the back, now I’ll probably get hit from behind and the result will be whiplash!

  6. sharone brown 6 years ago

    I am a writing a letter to Honda corporate and mailing tomorrow. Today my dealership repair person told me after a usual $500 maintenance that my 2006 Honda Crv transmission is going bad and I may have six months before needing a $4000 transmission. I am devastated after paying thousands for the manufacturers required maintenance at 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 47,500, 60,000, 70,000, 90,000, 97,500,105,000, 111,000 and 120,000 not including minor maintenance! I have 131,000 miles and purchased at 20 miles in Jan 2006: it is unacceptable that I am in need of a Transmission. I have been a true Honda fan, purchasing also a motorcycle and referring others. I can not believe that this is happening

    • Jerry 6 years ago

      Sharone, I am sorry to hear of the problem with the transmission. That is unusual for a Honda. I would send your letter, it’s hard to predict whether they will do anything or not, I would guess they probably won’t, but you never know.

      I’m not sure I wouldn’t get a second opinion, it’s a bit unusual for anyone to predict a transmission problem six months down the road.

      I wish you the best!

      Jerry Reynolds “The Car Pro”
      President, Car Pro Radio Networks

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