Test Drive: Honda CR-V, Civic Offer Considerable Value

Editor's Note: This story ran in a previous edition. 

With all the stories being written about the high price of vehicles, you’d think there's nothing left to buy for under $50,000.

However, that’s not true. I recently had the opportunity to drive two Hondas -- the CR-V and the Civic -- that I can recommend to anyone looking for a modestly priced vehicle that is still thoughtfully designed. And both are being advertised in the annual holiday Happy Honda Days sales event spots.

If you are looking for a compact SUV, look no further than the CR-V.  

The CR-V touring  (the trim level I test drove) is a versatile, spacious and fuel-efficient vehicle that offers a smooth and comfortable ride for any adventure. Whether you're cruising on the highway or navigating city traffic, the CR-V touring has you covered with its advanced safety features, smart technology and sleek design.

The MSRP including destination charges starts at $41,175 for the Sport Touring trim package, which includes all-wheel drive. But it’s possible to bring home the LX trim level with two-wheel drive for $30,825.

The hybrid powertrain on the touring model provides much better gas miles per gallon  — 40 city, 34 highway and 37 combined — compared to the base model’s mpg, which clocks in at 28 city, 34 highway and 30 combined. If gas mileage is your main consideration, the two-wheel drive version of the sport trim level provides the best: 43 city, 36 highway and 40 combined with an MSRP of $35,025.

I was very impressed with the hands-free lift gate, which is very reliable for both opening and closing with the movement of your foot underneath the back bumper. That’s not always the case — some vehicles have the feature, but it doesn’t work well. 

While the 9-inch touchscreen isn’t huge, it’s in a very convenient place for both viewing and touching. It’s nice that it has a knob for turning the radio on and off and controlling the volume. You can also control music volume from the steering wheel.

It’s nice to be able to ask Siri things like what time is sunrise and what the weather's going to be like tomorrow with the hands-free option from the steering wheel.

A few dings: While the backseats do fold flat, there is a significant gap and a rise with two different levels that would make hauling things somewhat inconvenient.  And the wireless charger was not consistent. I had to play with it almost every time I used it to get it to work. But at least it didn’t overheat my phone.

The Civic sedan or hatchback is also a fantastic value. Fully loaded, the Civic with the touring trim level that I drove totaled $31,900, including destination and handling. 

There is literally no option this vehicle doesn’t have, including adaptive cruise control, a  leather-wrapped steering wheel, and leather-trimmed seats. Gas mileage is 31 city and 38 highway for a combined 34 mpg. 

Like the CR-V, the interior featured premium materials, especially on touch points, with close attention paid to the operation of all switchgear and controls including the click and heft of knobs, stalks and switches.

A metal honeycomb panel on the instrument panel serves both form and function, presenting a fine-quality detail, while also concealing the air vents. The instrument panel and door panels have been designed with an attractive honeycomb-embossed pattern that hides fingerprints and scratches.

You don’t have to give up features in order to save money. Both of these vehicles are proof of that.

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