When you make the best-selling SUV in America over the past 20 years and the time comes for a redesign, you can bet most automakers would take a conservative, evolutionary approach, but not Honda. This 2017 CR-V truly earns its all-new descriptor, advancing it farther than any of its previous next generation releases.

My mother, my sister, 2 of my neighbors – we all know at least someone who owns a CR-V. Selling at a clip of about 26,000 per month, it has become one of Honda’s most important vehicles and this redesign will only drive those numbers higher.

While the 2015 refresh was notable for its advancements, this 2017 CR-V is like Christmas morning; everything’s shiny and new. After years of dull design Honda’s lineup is finally getting sexier and there’s no denying this CR-V has far more visual presence.

Honda has sent me their best example, the top-of-the-line Touring AWD trim which adds exclusive 18” wheels, LED headlights with auto high beams, dual exhaust finishers, a hands-free power tailgate, roof rails, rain sensing wipers and a 330 watt 9-speaker audio system with subwoofer.

And despite Honda giving you more, the price has hardly moved with the MSRP of this trim only marginally higher at $34,595 including destination. It’s wider, taller and longer with more ground clearance; increases of more than 1” in all areas. This is key because it affords owners nearly 10” of additional cargo length with the seats folded, so go ahead and put your bike in the back. And it doesn’t matter that the rear seats don’t slide; there’s more than 2” of newfound legroom giving the CR-V best-in-class interior space.

The nearly flat floor also means 3 across is in play for true 5-passenger seating. But just because it’s bigger doesn’t mean it’s heavier; it’s actually dropped over 100 pounds.

Turbocharging is taking the industry by storm because it most often produces better MPGs with similar power from smaller displacement engines and Honda is onboard, fitting all but the base CR-V LX with the Civic’s 1.5-liter, direct-injected turbo-4. Output is very close to the 2.4-liter engine it replaces making 190 horsepower, but its 179 pound-feet of torque comes on earlier for better responsiveness while mileage rises from 27mpg in combined driving to 29, still running on regular unleaded. It’s matched to an enhanced continuously variable transmission though it’s still nothing you’re going to fall in love with, moaning its way through hard acceleration.

2017-honda-cr-v-touringBorn from the stellar Civic platform, my expectations for this CR-V are understandably quite high. And by in large, I’m impressed.

There’s a new, premium way about it – from the sculpted comfort of these seats to the way it drives…it feels less fragile and far more substantial…like a real SUV. It’s quieter, better appointed and more engaging to drive. But I’m going to be greedy for a minute. Now This CR-V is a big winner but if the powertrain paired a bigger 2 liter turbo and a real automatic transmission, well the CR-V would be unbeatable.

I’d also rather see a button activated Sport mode as opposed to having to shift into it which could lead to a mistake. Regardless, this new chassis flaunts a back road dynamism and premium level occupant isolation that previous CR-Vs have never had. But I wonder, do CR-V drivers even care? The all-wheel drive system is new too, more capable of getting usable power to the rear wheels, yet another aspect that gives this CR-V a stronger SUV flavor. On and off-road, the ride quality is very forgiving.

What the majority of CR-V owners will appreciate even more is the upscale interior, more pleasing to the eye and to the touch. Honda’s full suite of safety electronics is here in the Touring too, using radar and camera sensors to help the driver avoid collisions, keep the vehicle in its intended lane and reduce stress. It’s quite advanced and is easily customizable to the driver’s preferences. The cabin is quiet, spacious and modern with 2 USB ports in the front and 2 more in the rear.

The multi-configurable center console houses far more room than before and extras like memory settings and remote start advance the premium narrative. The infotainment system features Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if you’re so inclined and uses Garmin for its embedded navigation. The Honda Link smartphone app adds remote features and farther reaching connectivity while the driver information display puts all kinds of data front and center. Still no OnStar-like telematics or WiFi hotspot, however.

Versatility and ease of use are still in the CR-V’s DNA. The cargo area features a low load in height, easily removable cargo cover, a 2 stage floor for adjustable depth and remote release of the seats which drop down gracefully. But how about some grocery bag hooks?

You can buy a base 2017 CR-V for about $25,000 while the mid-trim EX is forecast to be the volume model, priced at $29,000 with all-wheel drive. Honda knows what the American car shopper wants and with the CR-V, it’s another bull’s-eye.

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