2018 Honda CR-V LX Review: Still a Good Compact SUV After 18,000 Miles?

We’ve got a long history with the current-generation CR-V. We drove a loaded CR-V Touring AWD for a year after it came out at the end of 2016, and we later named it our 2018 SUV of the Year. And after being crowned with our top award, we got another long-term CR-V to evaluate for 12 months—except this time we chose the base LX FWD model. We’re coming to the end of our loan with the base 2018 Honda CR-V LX, and there’s plenty of things we like—from its 2.4-liter engine to its spacious cabin. We’re really going to miss this one.

Sure, the base CR-V is the least equipped model, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a cheap car. The plastics around the cabin are soft and feel nice. Although the steering wheel lacks any kind of leather, the soft plastic gives it a superior feel. The same goes for the door panels and dashboard. And in those places where you’re expected to rest your arm or elbow, decent cushioning will make your limbs comfortable. We also found that the seats are pretty comfy during long road trips, making the CR-V LX a great chariot to take on the road.

Read more about our long-term 2018 Honda CR-V LX FWD:

  • Arrival
  • Update 1: Driving Dynamics
  • Update 2: Warm Greenhouse
  • Update 3: Visiting the Dealer
  • Update 4: Going Abroad
  • Update 5: HR-V Sport vs. CR-V LX
  • Update 6: How Good are the 2018 Honda CR-V LX’s Accessories?

But whereas the plastics and materials don’t feel cheap, the technology could be improved. The tiny 5.0-inch color screen could use an upgrade to incorporate a better, more modern infotainment system, and these days we need more than one USB port. Competitors including the Mazda CX-5 offer a 7.0-inch screen and two USB ports as standard, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard in the Hyundai Tucson, which is also more affordable than the CR-V. The Toyota RAV4—the CR-V’s main competitor—comes with Apple CarPlay as standard. I understand these upgrades are found in the next higher EX trim, but in today’s world these amenities should come at no added cost.

Speaking of standard features, I dig the rear-seat air vents, capless fuel tank, and electronic parking brake. These are things we used to only see in top trims, but they’ve recently made their way down to base trims. Another good feature is the standard four-speaker audio system, which sounds crisp and strong whether you’re playing your music through Bluetooth or the sole USB port. And having automatic air conditioning on a base car is always a convenience, offering more control of the temperature in the cabin.

After more than a year with the CR-V LX, its versatility really stands out. With a cavernous cargo area and second-row seats that fold flat from either the back or the second row, it’s easy to fit in large objects. I often hauled my 8-foot surfboard, and it was painless to load into the cabin. The cargo floor also has two different heights; just choose the lower setting for a bit more spaciousness. It’s those well-thought-out details that make a difference in the CR-V. When he chauffeurs his family, visual assets manager Brian Vance misses his long-term CR-V Touring for both its cargo space and ease of getting his kids in and out of their car seats.

Although the 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine is old, it still pulls hard. With 184 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque, the CR-V LX doesn’t feel underpowered. Step on the gas, and you’ll feel a decent push—whether you’re pulling away from a stoplight or merging onto the freeway. The CVT is very well mated to the engine, though it can be loud at times, and not in a good way. The powertrain feels refined and well suited for the CR-V, whether you’re hauling two people or the whole family.

Despite being more than two years old, the CR-V’s styling still looks modern. I like that a few details on the LX make it look a bit more premium, such as the LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. It would be nice to see the door handles, mirror caps, and spoiler with body color instead of the black plastic, which makes it look low-cost. I also would have appreciated tinted windows; without them, I felt like I had no privacy at all (other trims get rear privacy glass). When I drove at night, the lights from 18-wheelers would cause a strong reflection from the rearview mirror, which also made me miss the tinted windows. Other than that, the rest of the exterior package is pretty good.

Over about 18,000 miles, we spent $286.32 in three service visits. All services were done at the dealership and consisted of three oil and filter changes and tire rotations, and one brake inspection and cleaning. Compared with other long-term compact SUVs we’ve had, the CR-V LX was generally cheap to maintain. Our 2017 Kia Sportage EX cost $223.41 over the course of three service visits and more than 21,000 miles, but we spent $341.96 on our 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander (three service visits, 26,871 miles) and $340.57 on our 2017 Mazda CX-5 (four service visits, 28,307 miles). Our 2017 Hyundai Tucson Limited cost $389.88 in three service visits over the course of 22,096 miles.

We’re going to miss the Honda CR-V LX. For around $25,000, it’s one of the best SUVs you can get today.

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