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It might have been recalled last week because of a little problem with doors flying open, but the 2012 Honda CR-V has just won a challenge posed by top industry observers against other vehicles in its class.
Cars.com, USA Today, and the "MotorWeek" TV show held the "Compact SUV Shootout", in which six vehicles under $25,000 that also got at least 30 mpg were judged against each other in a series of tests.
Rounding out the judging panel was a Chicago couple with two small children who are in the market for a compact SUV and judged each competitor according to how it answered their needs.
The CR-V competed against the 2013 Ford Escape, the 2012 Chevy Equinox, the 2012 Hyundai Tucson, the 2012 Kia Sportage, and the 2013 Mazda CX-5. Cars.com notes that it asked Mitsubishi to provide an Outlander Sport, but that the company turned them down "since it was in the middle of the model-year turnover".
There were three parts to the test:
- The six entrants were tested on Chicago-area roads over three days. They were driven over 200 miles on a route that encompassed both city driving and wide-open interstate driving.
- They were submitted to one day of "expert round-robin" testing, in which experts from the two publications and the TV show drove them over the same course, over and over.
- One day with the family, Nick and Erin Ravelingeen and their children Trudy, 4, and Mason, 2.
The five experts' scores counted for 75 percent, the family's for 15 percent, and fuel economy another 10 percent.
The judges stressed that all six contenders had their good points and that scoring was particularly close between the top three.
In sixth place was the Ford Escape (itself the subject of a recent recall). Judges liked the driving experience it offered, as well as its interior comfort; but the Escape ultimately scored low because of cost factors. The judges decided that too many thrills had to be done without in order to keep the car's cost under the $25,000 mark.
In fifth place was the Hyundai Tucson. Judges appreciated the amount of features offered for the money, and the handling and acceleration. However, small storage space, noise, and poor rear visibility were some of the features that kept this compact SUV from rising above the rest.
Said Cars.com's David Thomas, "The Tucson remains an excellent option in the class, but the class has gotten much tougher very quickly."
In fourth place was the Chevy Equinox. As the biggest vehicle in the competition, it had cargo space and roominess as points in its favor.
The panel's dislikes about the Equinox were many, and included slowness, noise, and a lack of features such as a USB port of iPods.
In third place was the Kia Sportage, which did well among the judges for exterior styling, storage, roominess, handling, and features that included a full navigation system.
Keeping it from scoring higher was poor rear sight, small cargo area, and what the judges considered some poor design choices.
In second place was the Mazda CX-5. Judges praised its high-quality interiors, value for money (features include blind spot warning, backup camera, and powerdriver seat), and fuel economy.
Judges were less than impressed with its engine power and handling, and with aspects of its interior layout.
While the CR-V finished in first place, judges were still mixed in their assessment. They liked its features (backup camera, Bluetooth and USB integration) and its interior design. They were less keen on its handling, and by its performance when in the Eco mode that drivers can switch to for added fuel performance.
Said Cars.com's Jennifer Geiger, "Eco mode is a double-edged sword: I appreciate the potential fuel savings, but the system alters the throttle response and delays shifts points so the CR-V seems lazy."