When I was in high school — a million years ago — one of the superlative honors was called "best all-around" and it went to the person who embodied being good at everything.
If there was a "best all-around" honor given in the automotive world, my vote would go to the Honda CR-V compact SUV, which sets the standard in the most competitive segment in the marketplace.
Among the CR-V's virtues are fuel economy, spaciousness, durability, value, low depreciation take a breath, here safety, engine refinement, comfort, visibility, utility and handling.
OK, you get the idea.
The CR-V is so good at so many things that it has become the default choice for a great swath of the American buying public. In a good month, Honda sells more than 30,000 CR-Vs; in a good year, maybe 350,000. Yowza!
We recently spent a week in a top-of-the-line 2017 Honda CR-V Touring with a brilliant new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine that makes 190 horsepower. In Touring trim our tester has an MSRP of $34,595, which includes virtually every available option. A base, LX model starts at $24,045.
-Model: Honda CR-V 1.5T AWD Touring
-Exterior color: Dark Olive
-Interior color: Ivory
-Engine: 1.5-liter, four-cylinder turbo
-Fuel economy: 33 mpg highway, 27 mpg city
-Local Dealer: Economy Honda (Chattanooga), Honda of Cleveland
-Price (as tested): $34,595
Economy Honda in Chattanooga and Honda of Cleveland (Tenn.) both have a good supply of CR-Vs in stock this week, including several 2017s and (virtually identical) 2018 models.
STYLING AND FEATURES
The 2017 CR-V represents a redesign of a core product for Honda. The exterior of our Dark Olive tester shows off a new, jewel-like headlight design. The grille treatment looks more modern, and the skid plate no longer makes the CR-V look like it needs corrective jaw surgery.
Most of the exterior character of the CR-V is focused in the nose and aggressively-designed, 18-inch machined alloy wheels. The tall roof-line and oversized windshield and side windows are designed to give CR-V passengers great, 360-degree visibility. Many modern SUVs have favored design over function with a raked roof that reduces visibility — a bad move for safety.
The CR-V has a highly-evolved interior that blends ivory-colored leather seating surfaces with dark gray dash and door panels. Judicious use of faux-wood inlays give the cabin an upscale vibe that belies its fairly modest price point.
Honda products always showcase ergonomics, and the CR-V is full of thoughtful touches. For example, a volume knob for the sound system is a nice throwback. Digital gauges are clear and make for an uncluttered instrument cluster. A 7-inch display with touchscreen incorporates navigation, rear-view camera and audio functions.
Our range-topping Touring model also includes such standard features as the leather interior, nine-speaker sound system with sub-woofer, Sirius XM radio, push-button start, heated front seats, power moon roof and rain-sensing wipers.
Top trims also come with the 190-horsepower turbocharged engine. Lower trims have a less-powerful 2.4-liter, inline four-cylinder engine. All models incorporate a CVT transmission that helps the CR-V register 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg city.
A whole suite of safety-tech features is standard on EX and Touring trims and includes forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, rear cross-traffic monitor and blind-spot monitor.
Driving a Honda CR-V is comfortable, even relaxing. With the new, turbocharged motor, acceleration is brisk, although those looking for a sportier driving experience might want to check out the Mazda CX-5 for its superior handling.
With the more powerful engine, the CR-V can go from 0-60 mph in about 7.5 seconds — not bad for a 3,479 pound SUV. All-in-all, it feels light on its feet.
The CR-V doesn't have the "instant-on" power of some bigger, six-cylinder SUVs, but for most buyers acceleration in the Honda will be more than adequate. Its only real limitations are its five-passenger capacity and 1,500-pound towing limit.
Our tester has all-wheel-drive, which boosts the price about $1,400 at all trim levels.
The CR-V Touring is for customers who want across-the-board competence with a pile of standard amenities that make if feel like a much more expensive SUV.
Shoppers in the segment may also want to test-drive the Hyundai Tuscon, Toyota RAV-4, Ford Escape and VW Tiguan.
After looking around, many shoppers — up to 350,000 a year, to be exact — will wind up back at the Honda store signing papers for a new CR-V.
Contact Mark Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6645. Follow him on Twitter @TFPCOLUMNIST. Subscribe to his Facebook updates at www.facebook.com/ mkennedycolumnist.