If one of your New Year's resolutions was to be more honest and you just bought Honda's new 2012 CR-V, you may be up a creek without a spark plug.
You see, you'll want to tell inquisitive friends and neighbors that the SUV you just bought is all new. And the 2012 CR-V certainly looks like it.
It has a degree of styling and refinement that just didn't exist in the three previous generations. It also rides and handles with confidence born out of recent engineering and development.
Yet, tucked away beneath the truly all-new interior and exterior is an engine and transmission that are largely carry-overs from the previous version.
But if you don't tell, I won't. Besides, people will be too busy commenting on the 2012 CR-V's many admirable qualities -- and its price tag that starts at $23,105 -- to notice your nose growing longer.
Helping to keep your conscience somewhat clear is the fact that the powertrain has at least been updated. A 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine still powers the CR-V, and it's still paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. But Honda tweaked the engine to produce five more horsepower and two more pound-feet of torque, for totals of 185 and 163, respectively.
Engineers also worked to reduce friction on both the transmission and the engine to make them more efficient. The result is an appreciable bump in fuel economy -- 3 miles per gallon better on the highway.
Front-wheel-drive CR-Vs now get 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 on the highway, while models with the optional full-time all-wheel-drive are rated at 22 mpg and 30 mpg, respectively. During a week of mostly highway miles in an all-wheel-drive model, I averaged 25.6 mpg on regular gas.
The CR-V's only shortcoming on the road is the gearing of the automatic transmission. To maximize fuel economy, the fifth gear likes to stay put as long as possible before shifting when cruising the freeway. This necessitates a hearty shove on the gas pedal when you want to pass someone.
The two-wheel-drive LX model comes standard with tech goodies like a backup camera, Bluetooth, keyless entry, a 160-watt stereo, a feature that reads your text messages to you, and a full-color screen at the top of the dashboard for the trip computer and stereo display.
Seating is a comfortable affair, if you're up front. But the rear seats and their church-pew flat seat backs left a little to be desired over long rides. At least space isn't an issue; 6-foot-plus passengers can ride in the back with plenty of legroom and headroom. Plus, the floor is flat so the middle passenger can enjoy a trip without chewing on their kneecaps.
2012 HONDA CR-V
Base price: $23,105 (including destination charge)
Price, model tested: $30,605, EX-L AWD
Powertrain:2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine; five-speed automatic transmission
Horsepower: 185 at 7,000 rpm
Torque: 163 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm
0-60 mph: 9.1 seconds, according to Motor Trend
Curb weight: 3,545 pounds
Wheelbase: 103.1 inches
Overall length: 178.3 inches
EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
Bottom line:New where you'll notice.