Engine, cargo boost ‘15 Honda CR-V

The ’15 Honda CR-V stands out in farm country south of Longmont. (Bud Wells photos)

The ’15 Honda CR-V stands out in farm country south of Longmont. (Bud Wells photos)

Happy Thanksgiving!

How many turkeys can be hauled in the cargo area of the 2015 Honda CR-V?

Talking frozen, dressed birds of 15 to 18 pounds, the number might be 40 to 50, depending on how they’re squeezed in and stacked.

If you’re talking live turkeys, it depends, first and foremost, on how many you can catch.

The CR-V’s cargo space at 35.3 cubic feet is one of the largest in its class. The cargo floor sits low, with the spare tire resting beneath it, and it is easily accessed.

All this room behind the second-row seats is among reasons cited for the popularity of Honda’s compact crossover.

There are better-looking crossovers, and those with more power and better shift control, but this one excels in all-around pleasant performance.

And it shows in the sales charts. The Accord and Civic sedans for years have been Honda’s best sellers. Not so in October, when the CR-V outsold both of them.

The top 10 sellers of SUV/crossover vehicles for October, behind the Honda’s 29,257, are Ford Escape 24,919, Toyota RAV4 21,524, Chevrolet Equinox 17,603, Ford Explorer 16,496, Jeep Cherokee 15,715, Jeep Grand Cherokee 14,993, Nissan Rogue 14,685, Jeep Wrangler 13,685, Subaru Forester 12,971 and Toyota Highlander 12,106.

The five-passenger ’15 CR-V is a bit longer with slightly wider track than the one I last drove, a 2012 model. Though the CR-V is of shorter wheelbase than the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4, it is within an inch in overall length, longer than the Escape, shorter than the RAV4.

Torque and economy have increased with a new 2.4-liter (Earth Dreams Technology) 4-cylinder engine tied to a continuously variable transmission (VT). Peak efficiency is called upon with the push of a green “econ” button, which delivers feedback to best-type engine demands for high fuel mileage. The CVT’s modest speed recovery takes some getting used to; the 18 additional pounds-feet of torque help some.

Honda CR-V’s new Earth Dreams 4-cylinder.

Honda CR-V’s new Earth Dreams 4-cylinder.

My time with the CR-V was the recent extremely cold and snowy week, which dragged the vehicle’s overall fuel mileage down to 25.9 miles per gallon. Its EPA estimate is 26/33.

The crossover did a nice job of switching from its front-wheel-drive system to front/rear control for added traction on icy streets.

In addition to the normal rearview camera, the CR-V featured LaneWatch, activated with the right-turn signal, giving an on-screen view of the car’s blind-side area. It lends assurance on turns, as well as for lane changes on a busy I-25.

Eighteen-inch alloy sport wheels are shod with Dunlop Grandtrek 225/60R18 tires.

Sporty 18-inch wheels compliment the CR-V’s prominent nose.

Sporty 18-inch wheels compliment the CR-V’s prominent nose.

The CR-V review model is the high-end Touring version, with a sticker price of $33,650, including such other features as voice-recognition navigation and audio (AM/FM/CD, Bluetooth, Pandora, USB, satellite), leather-trimmed seats (heated in front), dual-zone climate control, push-button start, adaptive cruise control, power moonroof and tailgate and variable intermittent wipers.

The shifter dominates the CR-V’s center stack.

The shifter dominates the CR-V’s center stack.

Here are the specifications for the ’15 Honda CR-V AWD:

  • Capacity 5-passenger
  • Wheelbase 103.1 inches
  • Length 179.4 inches
  • Width 71.6 inches
  • Height 65.1 inches
  • Curb Weight 3,624 pounds
  • Track 62.2 inches front, rear
  • Ground Clearance 6.8 inches
  • Turn Circle 36.9 feet
  • Drivetrain All-wheel-drive
  • Engine 2.4-liter 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower/Torque 185/181
  • Transmission Continuously variable
  • Steering rack-pinion
  • Suspension strut front, multilink rear
  • Fuel mileage estimate 26/33
  • Fuel mileage average 25.9
  • Fuel Tank 15.3 gallons, unleaded regular
  • Wheels 18-inch
  • Cargo Volume 35.3 cubic feet
  • Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles basic, 5/60,000 powertrain

Competitors Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester

Assembly Plant East Liberty, Ohio

Parts Content U.S./Canadian 70%, Japan 15%

Base Price of Lowest Model $24,570; Base Price of Review Model $32,770; Destination Charge $880; Sticker Price $33,650.