Whether it’s a car, truck, or SUV, the winners of Motor Trend’s Golden Calipers tend to fall into two categories. There are the dashing, dazzling disruptors such as Nissan’s GT-R or Tesla’s Model S. Then there are the quiet achievers: mass-market vehicles with thoughtful engineering and design, rigorous attention to detail, and a deeply intuitive understanding of the demands and desires of the customer. The 2018 Motor Trend SUV of the Year, the Honda CR-V, falls into the latter camp—a supreme example of calm, confident composure that delivers in all categories.
“Honda made sure it kept its crown jewel ahead of the field by paying attention to a wide range of details,” Detroit editor Alisa Priddle said. “Others might excel in certain fields, but others don’t put the whole package together the way the CR-V does.”
This is the second CR-V to take home the calipers in the 20-year history of the award: A thorough rework and refresh of the previous CR-V platform was enough to garner the 2015 SUV of the Year title, narrowly edging out the Jeep Cherokee to take the win. Now, three years later, the comprehensively redesigned CR-V has bested another sporty European—this time Alfa Romeo’s surprisingly accomplished Stelvio—by just one vote.
Against 23 contenders, the Honda CR-V is a worthy winner. Here’s why.
Advancement in Design
Like every new Honda launched in America in recent years, the new CR-V looks bigger and more substantial than the model it replaces, and that perception is reinforced by exterior styling that is a touch heavy-handed in places. Nevertheless, the CR-V is mercifully free of the riotous mess of lines and surfaces that blights the sheetmetal of some contemporary Japanese crossovers, relying instead on bolder graphic elements such as the grille and taillights to establish its identity.