With all the information on the internet available to potential car consumers today, we can easily kick tires in our heads as, “internet window shoppers.” As an adventurist, I am drawn to the biggest and strongest. I am dazzled by off-road capabilities, the machismo of large tires, high number of horses, torque and towing capacity. It is easy to get carried away, picturing myself climbing over rocky terrain and winching myself out of mud pits. Let me stop there, before I get carried away.
Who wouldn’t love to have the newest large pickup or truck? However, when the time came to sit down and work out what we needed the vehicle for, I had to consider the practical variables.
I was in the market for a new vehicle at the end of 2014. I went and perused the usual sources; Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, Car and Driver etc. I was well informed by the end of my research and I was armed with the knowledge to hash out a bargain with any dealership. When it was all said and done, I was driving off the lot with a 2015 Honda CRV a far cry from the Jeep Rubicon or the Toyota Land Cruiser or the venerable Land Rover Defender. The CRV does not scream adventure vehicle but after careful consideration, I’ve decided it is in fact, just that.
The first thing to note is that most of the adventures for me are a minimum of 2 hours drive away. I needed a comfortable ride as well as a vehicle with efficient gas consumption. The All-Wheel Drive, CRV according to Honda, sips its fuel at an average of 26.5 City and 33 miles per gallon highway. My personal driving style has me at 31.1mpg average on my way to an outdoor retreat and 28.5 daily commuting. The CRV is not a picky eater and is more than content with dining on regular gas. With a full tank, I have a range of over 400 miles. I pity the wallet that has to fund a 150 mile drive to get to a favorite trout stream while feeding an 18mpg glutton.
The cabin is surprisingly roomy with comfortable seating and a stylish interior. Although noticeably smaller than the average SUV, the little crossover still gives you the feel of sitting above traffic. The base model comes standard with features usually reserved as options. Bluetooth wireless has me safely calling my buddies to let them know I’m running behind schedule. The option of using the Bluetooth or the hard wire to listen to my tunes makes the hours go by quickly. Maybe the best feature is that with one pull of a lever the back seats fold completely flat. This gives me extra cargo space (71 cubic feet) when there are no other passengers. I can also lay myself flat when sleeping in the car, while waiting for first light at a hunting spot. The cargo space with the passenger seats up is 35 cubic feet. I do wish that there were more options for interior fabric colors with the base EX models. Unfortunately, the white EX only came with a tan interior. The tan color being very susceptible to being stained. I do not feel as comfortable with just hopping in the seat with my waders on, to check out the next trout hole down the road.
Now back to the drive. The Honda drives like a Honda. As a previous owner of an Accord, the drive felt very familiar. The CRV is not a car that is considered thrilling to drive. It is the horse that keeps its head low and keeps on plowing. You get the work ethic without the fancy flair. This is something I appreciate as one of the original reasons I chose Honda, was that the aforementioned Accord is still running smoothly with over 200,000 miles. I can only hope that the CRV can match the reliability of the Accord.
The new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) keeps the car pulling through acceleration without any hiccups for gear shifts. This makes climbs up hills in poor traction terrain smooth and even. You do not lose the momentum due to a poorly timed gear shift. Also, the CVT is the reason for some of the mpg gains from the previous year’s CRV. There is some vibration due to this new transmission and others have voiced concerns over it being excessive. This is something we will have to keep an eye on.
The CRV has the option for a very capable AWD system that has personally been put through the test of a Northeast Winter and an especially muddy country road, Spring. The traction and handling is stable and reassuring. Going back to those rocky terrains and mud pits I had imagined myself driving over and through. I find that most of the hard to reach secret locations don’t require 4×4 but rather a slimmer profile. Many of the off beaten paths that are drivable are narrow and will require a smaller and more nimble vehicle to navigate. The turning radius is pretty important as you may find yourself in a situation where you can’t go forward and need to turn in tight spaces. The ground clearance of 6.8 inches is not the best but is suitable for most of the roads that you may encounter.
I found that even in far reach places such as Patagonia, a large jeep was overkill for the roads. The romanticism and idea of taking a jeep into rugged secret places is still alive. But, for those that are looking into a simple adventure vehicle that doubles as a daily commuter or family car, most cars do just fine. I would like to note that I don’t think it’s about the year or type of vehicle you drive. All vehicles can be the next machine that drives your passion. We would love to see your adventure mobile whether you’ve chosen it for specific features or if you’ve just worked around the vehicle you already have.