Exterior

There's no escaping it: The new Honda CR-V has an underbite. I don't know where designers are getting the idea that this is a good look, but the new Jeep Compass has a similar bumper treatment. It's truly "unfortunate," as a colleague of mine said when he first saw it, because from every other angle the CR-V's design shines.

Before I get too negative about the front end, it does look better on the road and from a dead-on perspective. It's when you stray to the left or right that it shows off some of the oddity going on. I think most CR-V buyers will get past it, especially since the last two designs spoke to absolutely no one.

Around back, the CR-V has finally lost the rear-mounted spare tire and side-swinging cargo door, replaced by a true hatchback that lifts easily. Vertical brake lights also deliver a classy feel. I've now seen a number of exterior colors in the flesh and think darker hues like Royal Blue Metallic are more attractive than lighter ones like Glacier Blue Metallic. There's also an odd Green Tea color that — similar to the front end — will generate strong opinions.

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