What Is the Best Honda SUV?

Critics and drivers agree that the CR-V is Honda’s best SUV overall, but the Pilot may be better for large families.
Written by Tiffany Leung
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
The CR-V has been crowned Honda’s best SUV for safety ratings, comfort, and style—but close behind are the Pilot and Passport.
  • The CR-V is the crowd-favorite Honda SUV—and it earns top safety ratings.
  • The CR-V is the best Honda SUV to buy used, too.
  • Large families may prefer the more spacious and powerful Honda Pilot.
  • Offroaders should look at the Honda Passport TrailSport.

Best overall Honda SUV: Honda CR-V

Starting MSRP (2023): $29,705
Number of seats: 5
J.D. Power rating: 81/100
Fanfare, please! The compact crossover Honda CR-V is the Editors’ Choice winner for 2023 from Car and Driver—and it’s the brand’s top-selling SUV with 361,271 units sold in the U.S. in 2021 alone.
compact Honda SUV
has a spiffy and spacious interior, generous storage, and amazing fuel economy—not to mention the option of getting a hybrid powertrain. Its
low ground clearance
means this midsize CR-V is not a good choice for off-roading, but that’s the only drawback we can see.
Fuel economy: The front-drive, gas-only model is rated at 28 mpg city and 34 highway. The all-wheel-drive models are rated at 27 mpg city and 32 highway.
Comfort: The most spacious in its class, the CR-V can accommodate up to five passengers in a roomy interior. The cabin is finished with upscale materials including faux-wood accents, chromed plastic, and brushed-satin finishes.
Space: With 39.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity behind the rear seats and 76.5 cubic feet with the back seats folded down, these numbers are hard to beat.
Safety: The CR-V has a perfect five-star overall
NHTSA safety rating
, plus a Superior rating for collision avoidance features from the IIHS. These high scores are due to the quality of the CR-V build and Honda Sensing, Honda’s famous suite of driver-assist safety features: automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, road departure mitigation, forward collision warning, and lane-keeping assist.
You can choose between the following trim levels on the CR-V: 
  • LX
  • EX
  • Sport
  • EX-L
  • Sport Touring

Best Honda SUV to buy used: 2016 Honda CR-V

Estimated price range: $16,000 to $24,000
Number of seats: 5 
J.D. Power rating: 81
Although the current CR-V model year checks off many desirable features, the cost of new Honda SUV models can add up quickly. Shoppers on a budget can consider a used CR-V to get the best Honda without the premium price of a new SUV.
The 2016 CR-V is a few years older, but it is part of the fourth generation, which received higher overall scores than any other CR-V generation. 
Awards and recognitions for the 2016 CR-V:
  • Rated one of the top trucks and SUVs by Car and Driver
  • Scored second overall in the U.S. News & World Report rating system
  • Won U.S. News' 2016 Best Compact SUV for Families award
  • Ranked #2 under the U.S. News’ 2016 Affordable Compact SUVs category
  • Finalist for the U.S. New’s 2016 Best Compact SUV for the Money Award
The 2016 CR-V is considered one of the best cars ever produced. 
This subcompact SUV has so many upgrades that give it better handling, ride comfort, and noise cancellation. It also gets better fuel mileage compared to previous years and has exceptional safety ratings from the NHTSA and IIHS. 

Best Honda SUV for families: Honda Pilot

Starting price (2023): $37,295
Number of seats: 7 to 8
J.D. Power rating: 81/100
While the CR-V is Honda’s best, it’s not practical for large families who are constantly on the go. Fortunately, Honda has something bigger to offer: the
Honda Pilot
, the brand’s largest three-row SUV. 
Power: The sporty V6 engine provides plenty of horsepower and a great drive with a nine-speed automatic transmission. When this family SUV is loaded with people, the ride is relatively smooth.
Comfort: Enjoy a spacious and practical interior that can stand up to constant use. There’s also an optional in-cabin PA system—perfect for families! 
Seating: Most of the models come with a second-row three-seat bench. Certain
Honda Pilot configurations
can get two captain’s chairs, but this will bring the passenger count down to seven. Keep in mind that while the
Pilot's third row
is spacious, it may become uncomfortable for adults on longer trips. 
Space: The Pilot’s cavernous cargo area makes it one of the roomiest SUVs in its class. Plus, the cargo floor is adjustable to maximize space or create an underfloor storage compartment. Finally, a quirky yet convenient feature is the numerous useful interior cubbies and 16 (!) cup holders throughout the cabin.

Best Honda SUV for off-roading: Honda Passport TrailSport

Starting price (2023): $44,945
Number of seats: 5
J.D. Power rating: 84/100
While Honda’s entire SUV lineup can handle very light off-roading, Honda introduced the
Honda Passport TrailSport
to fill the gap between city dwellers and outdoor adventurers, Not only does the Passport receive a style upgrade, but it also gets trail-ready with additional off-road features.
Power: The Passport TrailSport is outfitted with all-wheel drive, a 280-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine, and 8.1 inches of ground clearance to power through off-road terrains. 
Space: It has a generous maximum cargo space of 77.7 cubic feet with all the seats folded down, allowing outdoor enthusiasts to bring all the gear they need. 
Towing: If you plan to bring a trailer along, the passport TrailSport has a 5,000-lb maximum towing capacity. 

Best Honda SUV for fuel economy: Honda CR-V Hybrid

Starting price (2023): $34,245
Number of seats: 5
J.D. Power rating: 81/100
With a combined 37 to 40 mpg (depending on trim level), the Honda CR-V Hybrid gets some of the best fuel economy ratings in its class. It’s 30% more fuel-efficient than the regular CR-V, but it also outperforms every other SUV offered by Honda.
To compare, here are the fuel economy numbers for other top Honda SUVs’ base engine configurations: 
  • 2023 Honda CR-V: 28 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg 
  • 2023 Honda Pilot: 19 city/27 highway/22 combined mpg
  • 2023 Honda Passport: 19 city/24 highway/21 combined mpg
If you need something bigger than a midsize SUV but you want great fuel economy, Honda might debut a
Pilot plug-in hybrid
in a future generation but it’s still unconfirmed. Of course, there will likely be higher upfront costs before you’ll see the long-term savings.
Overall, Hondas have
high reliability ratings
and they’re extremely low-maintenance. The Honda HR-V is another great SUV choice—and the Honda Civic is actually the best used Honda to buy if you don’t need the increased cargo capacity of an SUV.
Still not convinced? Try test-driving some of Honda’s competitors in the crossover SUVS class: the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, and the Mazda CX-5.
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