The Honda CR-V has been one of the top selling compact crossover SUVs in its class for some time, and after our drive of the all-new 2017 Honda CR-V, we think it just may well remain on top.

All-new for 2017, the Honda CR-V gained a refined evolution of styling inside and out, a new engine and powertrain choice, more space inside and a host of new technology and safety features.

To styling the new face gains LED headlamps on the top trim grades, healthy doses of chrome and a more planted silhouette that replaces the upturned shark nose shape of the last generation. For the first time active grille shutters help save fuel at high speeds.

The wheelbase groves 1.6-inches but with a repackaging of the overall body its length only grows some 1.2-inches. The outcome is a CR-V that looks less bulky than before with its more pronounced and elongated sidelines and rear window curvature.

At the rear a new flying wing rear spoiler is standard across the line, floating above new horizontally styled LED tail lamps that vie the CR-V a much more premium look than before. Down below another shift in style comes with dual exhaust outlets.

In redesigning the cabin, material quality has taken a huge step up with generous soft-touch trims on the doors, dash and center console. New colors and finishes bring a more premium sense of being here yet some things remain the same such as the dash mounted shift lever.

17-honda-cr-v-7Ahead of the driver in the Touring we tested is a fully digital instrument cluster that can be programmed to display several different information sets from speed to navigation, infotainment to trip computer stats.

A new full function steering wheel is leather wrapped and has duplicate controls for audio and infotainment as well as the aforementioned trip computer functions. The center stack I might add gains something often talked of, a volume knob for the audio system. Honda is listening.

Spaciousness also takes a huge step up due in part to its stretched wheelbase. This is apparent everywhere you sit whether you’re up front or in the second-row where there’s now 2.1-inches of additional gel room.

The rear seat features a new single motion folding mechanism that allows for a full fold in one step. You’ll also find levers at the rear cargo area to release them down. There you’ll find a load floor that can be set in two positions, low for maximum space or higher for a flat floor when you start folding down the seats.

17-honda-cr-v-3Once folded you will find the new CR-V offers a cargo area almost 10-inches long, now a full five-feet in length. Getting there is easier now too with a power rear lift-gate with radar motion opening capability that can open to your programmed height.

Under the hood for 2017 carries over a 184 horsepower 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine on LX models. On EX and above an all-new turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection offers up 190 horsepower and 179 pound feet of torque.

On the 1.5 turbo we tested a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) with G-Shift Control has a torque converter, a feature not usually associate with a CVT. This and its electronic controls help give it a more direct feel and simulated shift points all to make it seem more like a traditional transmission.

On the road the new top-end powertrain was impressive in its quiet and refined power delivery, putting a nice push in your back. And while yes it has a CVT, this one is quite a step up in overall drivability than the rubber bands of the past.

17-honda-cr-v-14My take here in the short drive is that this new powertrain easily rises above competitors such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape EcoBoost 1.6 in its refinement and enjoyment factor. The EPA rates the new 1.5-liter turbo as high as 28 mpg city and 34 mpg highway. We’ll have to wait for a longer test to verify those stats.

Handling on the redwood lined coastal roads of California was a sublime evolution of the current CR-V with the expected levels of refinement and quiet. Due to a stronger body structure and increased sound deadening material it is now as Honda tells us the quietest in class.

With the stretch in wheelbase it feels more stable fore and aft when braking and accelerating. Its reasonably mild rubber and 18-inch wheels offer plenty of grip in curves for the level of driving most customers will do.

It’s worth noting that the 2017 Honda DR-V will come with a full suite of active safety features called Honda Sensing on EX models and above, representing 75% of all sales to be quipped with the technologies.

These include forward emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise with follow control and blind spot warning with cross traffic alert just to name a few. The 2017 Honda CR-V goes on sale December 21st with a starting price of $24,045 for LX trim and ranges up to $32,395 for the top-line Touring we’ve tested.

Our first broad brush is that the new 2017 Honda CR-V will not only impress current Honda owners but may well continue to bring more to the brand with its refinement, versatility, quality and overall value. It’s a formula that’s worked for some time now, and likely will keep doing so.