Safety

What I love about the CR-V's safety features is that everything is standard. From the entry-level base model to the top of the line EX-L, all of the safety stuff is included because, really, saving lives shouldn't be optional.

The heart of Honda's safety package is the Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure. While most vehicles are only crash-tested against similar vehicles, Honda designed the CR-V to stand up to impacts at three heights. The frame of the car is designed to channel impact forces around the passenger cabin, using everything from sound-absorbing foam to the spare tire to dissipate the forces. The CR-V comes with standard four-wheel antilock brakes with brake assist, stability control and traction control. It also has standard front- and side-impact airbags in the front row and side curtain airbags in both rows.

The CR-V received the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which in past years when coupled with the standard stability control would have earned it a Top Safety Pick. This year, IIHS has instituted a new rollover crash test as part of the Top Safety Pick criteria. This test looks at a car's roof strength. On this test, the CR-V scored a Marginal.

FAMILY LIFESTAGE

In Diapers: Easy-to-reach Latch connectors and a cargo area designed around a stroller make this SUV a winner.

In School: A flat step-in area makes it easy for kids to climb in; firm seat belts receptors let little hands buckle up without a struggle.

Teens: It's affordable enough for the cash-strapped, but has enough safety features to ease parental worries.

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