The exterior styling is love-it-or-hate-it. Additionally, some people will miss having a roof rack. The body feels substantial - no shakes or rattles. It doesn't surprise you that it has a five-star crash safety rating for both frontal and side impacts.
Despite being a base model, the interior is a nice place to spend time in. Excellent room and seating positions/comfort for all. The seating surfaces are durable-but-not-industrial, and the seat frames that feel substantial.
The interior is easy to look at, and has no shortage of storage bins/pockets. To be sure, there is a fair amount of hard plastic, but features nice textures and colors, with no flash, or sharp edges. Moreover, there are just enough soft-touch surfaces (armrests) to keep things from descending into Fleet Car Hell.
The instrumentation is stylish - and readable. And it bucks the latest trend of foregoing a temperature gauge. The tire pressure monitoring system is a nice touch.
The A/C has a air-filtration system, and the A/C vents are placed at face-level - where they belong. The A/C itself is reasonably powerful. But the while the AC is adequate, the heater takes a fair amount of time to put out heat, and the cabin has a fair amount of volume to heat. But it does (eventually) get the vehicle's interior warm.
Other nice touches are the tilt and telescope steering column and the integrated conversation mirror/sunglasses holder. The standard stereo has mediocre sound quality at best - Honda usually does better (perhaps the uplevel models are better). Visibility to the rear is somewhat limited; uplevel models have a camera. The rear hatch is hinged at the top -> if you're tall, you'll want to exercise caution to avoid bumping your head.
The chassis features good handling - alert steering response, good roadholding and minimal body roll - particularly for a tall vehicle. The vehicle stability assist has yet to kick in, despite venturing beyond the threshold of tire squeal.
The steering, though a bit light, is precise, linear, and has decent feel. Directional stability on the interstate is OK, with some minor crosswind sensitivity.
The ride is a bit aggressive in the Honda tradition - impact harshness is its defining signature. Then again, you won't get seasick. The 4-wheel disk brakes have good feel, effort levels and perceived stopping power.
The powertrain is well done. This is a tall, 3500+lb. vehicle (by-product of the five-star crash rating?), with all-wheel-drive, propelled by 166 HP. If you want speed, gas mileage is going to take a hit. As it is, it's a decent compromise. The engine gets along with the 5-speed automatic transmission fairly well, with smooth, intuitive shifts between well spaced/matched ratios - Certainly better than transmission the 98-02 V6 Accords (we own one of those too).
Power is adequate - the responsive acceleration that one experiences with a light load at low speeds fades at highway speeds - particularly when carrying passengers and cargo. Not a enough to be a serious problem, but younger/inexperienced drivers may want to plan passing maneuvers with some care until they adjust to the difference in low-speed vs. high speed acceleration.
This vehicle employs electronic throttle control, and for the most part, it is unobtrusive. The power spread is even, with no noticeable holes in the power curve -> the variable valve timing/lift work well.
It doesn't seem likely that you could use a smaller engine in this vehicle and get better real-world economy (as opposed to generating good EPA numbers). The real-time fuel economy readout on the dash is informative. Level roads with still winds allow for numbers in the low 30s at 55-60 MPH.
To the powertrain's credit, cruising at 60 MPH in 5th is done at 1800 RPM. You can ascend slight inclines without downshifts/lockup disengagement, but you can see the instant fuel economy drop to the low twenties. Should the hill steepen (if not become steep per se), you'll see a quick drop into the mid-to-high teens, with the transmission smoothly and seamlessly downshifting a gear (or 2 on occasion). Add some head/crosswinds, and it drops even further. We average 21 MPG on regular (87 octane) fuel.
An interesting phenomenon is an increase in fuel economy when using premium fuel. We mistakenly filled up with 93 octane, and noticed an increase to 23 MPG. We have done so from time to time subsequently, and noticed the same increase.
NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels for the drivetrain are good when you consider that this is a long-stroke 4 that has its work cut out for it. Unless you're in a hurry, you don't notice it.
The engine uses no oil between changes, but is somewhat noisy when cold (mild piston slap). Tire noise, in the Honda tradition, is a constant (but not bothersome) companion. There is a bit of wind noise around the windows/roof pillars, but not bad as SUVs go.