Used Car Reviews

Used Vehicle Review: Honda CR-V, 2012-2017

Vehicle Type



Restyled, re-engineered, re-packaged, and revised, the all-new-for-2012 Honda CR-V delivered more of the value, efficiency, and safety that Canadian drivers grew to expect over numerous generations. With space to spare via a surprisingly roomy cabin, a deep and flexible cargo hold, numerous storage cubbies, and the promise of fuel-efficient operation and high resale values, the fourth-generation CR-V sped ahead with enhancements of all attributes that made it a popular pick, while adding more style, features, and tech.

Look for the introduction of an ECON drive mode, accessible at a button press, which makes it easier to drive the CR-V in as fuel-efficient a manner as possible. Feature content elsewhere included Bluetooth with text-messaging capability, a full-colour Multi-Information Display (MID), and a rear-view camera system. Cruise control, remote entry, heated seats and air conditioning were standard.

Up-level features included a power moonroof, automatic climate control, premium audio system components, navigation, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and more. The Canadian-built CR-V also earned top marks from industry crash-test authorities. Just note – with an award-winning reputation for resale values, CR-V will likely command a premium price in the used crossover market.


The 2012 CR-V offered up 185 standard horsepower from a 2.4-litre four-cylinder VTEC engine, and a new, faster-acting all-wheel-drive (AWD) system. Front-wheel-drive models were available. Transmission choices included a five-speed automatic, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that replaced it from 2015 and on. That year also saw CR-V’s engine updated with Direct Injection, boosting torque output and fuel efficiency. Look for the LX or EX trim grade if you’re after a basic model, with the EX-L and Touring representing more loaded units, depending on the year selected.

What Owners Like

Owners tend to comment positively on ride quality, overall comfort, versatility, flexibility, roominess, and good fuel efficiency. The CR-V, when equipped with proper winter tires, is a confident and sure-footed performer in winter months, and several upscale design touches throughout the handy and accommodating cabin were also highly rated.

What Owners Dislike

Owner complaints tend to centre around the lack of an up-level, higher-performing engine option, a dated and sometimes-clumsy infotainment system, and some cheap interior plastics.

Here are some Honda CR-V owner reviews

The Test Drive

Familiarize yourself with this thread, which outlines a somewhat commonly reported issue relating to a vibration from the CR-V’s engine, at idle, when the vehicle is in gear but stopped. If you experience this problem on your test drive, note that many owners have had little luck having dealers remedy it – and that, by and large, the vibration seems to be a normal part of the CR-V’s operation. At least one owner has, however, addressed the vibration by re-attaching an exhaust hanger that’s become loose.

Check the instrument cluster for a warning light or message from the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), which could indicate a flat or under-inflated tire. Some owners have reported issues with fussy system operation, with many reporting frequent false alerts of low tire pressure, even after the system is reset. Here’s some more reading. Note that the buck stops with the driver when it comes to tire pressures: the TPMS system should not taken as a replacement for regular, manual tire pressure checks with a gauge, as outlined in the owner’s manual. Note that some owners choose to disable the CR-V’s TPMS system altogether if it’s acting up. Here’s some more reading.

Pair your Bluetooth-enabled smartphone with the CR-V’s Bluetooth system, and give it a workout. Make and take a phone call, stream some audio, and the like. Confirm that audio quality is acceptable, from both music and phone calls. Now’s the time to make sure the potentially pricey-to-replace Bluetooth system in the CR-V you’re considering is in proper working order. Here’s a discussion post with links to some other useful info. The gist? In some cases, compatibility issues between the CR-V and certain smartphone operating systems or apps can cause issues. Update all software on your phone for best results – but note that if this doesn’t solve any Bluetooth-related issues, further investigation may be required.

According to the CR-V owner’s community, the climate control system is a great candidate for a full pre-purchase check by test-driving shoppers, and a technician, if any problems are detected. Blast the heat fully, and ensure that hot air is dispensed from all vents as you cycle through them. If the performance of the heater seems poor, or if certain (or all) vents fail to move hot air into the cabin, the problem may be a bad heater core. Some owners have had these replaced, typically under warranty. Note that the cost to fix a defective heater core can be pricey if it’s not covered by warranty, since the job requires removal of the vehicle dashboard.

Dealers may also try to clean and flush the heater core with special equipment, as per a service bulletin, as well. This is a relatively common issue, and your Honda dealer will likely be aware of it. If the model you’re considering is coming up to the end of its warranty, be sure to have any heater-related issues documented early, to help speed warranty claims, should they be needed.

Confirm proper air conditioner operation as well, noting that if CR-V’s ECON drive mode is engaged, the A/C system performance is automatically ramped back to save fuel. If the A/C system in the CR-V you’re test-driving seems wimpy, be sure that the ECON mode is turned off (via a little green button with a plant on it, in front of your left knee on the dash). If that doesn’t help, have a technician inspect the cabin air filter, and the A/C system, to track down the problem. Here’s some more reading.

Zero in on the transmission on the CR-V you’re driving, and be on the lookout for unwelcomed shuddering, vibration or strangeness while shifting gears at light, moderate, and full throttle. A general feel of clumsiness to the transmission’s gear selection may also be a trouble sign. Here’s some more reading on the symptoms and a possible fix. In some cases, dealers replace the transmission fluid with a new formulation, and perform a software update on the transmission’s computer brain, to address the problem. If the CR-V you’re considering exhibits any transmission trouble signs, ask a Honda service advisor if Service Bulletin 14-086 may apply. Note that this issue seems to affect mostly earlier models from this generation.

Two final notes. First, if the CR-V you’re considering has the direct-injection engine (2015 or newer), be sure to familiarize yourself with maintenance intervals for spark plugs and oil changes, and to adhere to them. Use of top-tier fuels at all times is also recommended, as is talking to your service advisor about a periodic direct-injection cleaning service, if required. All of the above can help fend off the potential accumulation of harmful valve gunk that’s possible in this type of engine.

Second, be sure to monitor oil levels often and regularly, bringing any issues you note to your dealer’s attention as soon as possible, especially if the unit is still under warranty. Though reports seem few and far between, some owners have reported questionable oil consumption levels on their CR-V’s.

The Verdict

CR-V’s high residual values mean you’ll likely pay a premium for a used copy from this generation – though if the model you decide on is kept in good shape and maintained well, it’ll likely sell for top bucks when you trade it up for something newer, too. For maximum peace of mind, a used CR-V from this generation with remaining factory warranty, and all service records available, is ideal. A unit familiar to a selling Honda dealer, sold as part of Honda’s Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program is typically a safe bet, especially if it has factory warranty remaining.

Just 2 recalls.

Crash Test Ratings

IIHS: test results
NHTSA: 5/5 Stars