"The plan moving forward for 2019 is to remain conservative with our incentives," the spokeswoman told Automotive News.
If that's the case, CR-V incentives will begin to stabilize in the months ahead.
Honda dealer Brian Benstock is OK with that. He thinks the strong January results are a sign of good things to come for 2019.
"I think Honda is going to watch carefully what they're doing," said Benstock, general manager of Paragon Honda and Paragon Acura in New York City's Queens borough. "With the sedan sales across the industry being off a little bit, they've got to make sure that we keep applying the incentive money where it gives us the biggest return for investment."
A key question now is how long Nissan can keep up the pace of its discounts. It doesn't have the deep pockets that Toyota can dip into to keep the Camry and RAV4 at the top of their segments. Indeed, Nissan Motor Co.. CEO Hiroto Saikawa is trying to move the company away from profit-draining fleet sales and incentives in the U.S. in an attempt to shore up brand value and margins. Saikawa has said Nissan is prepared to sacrifice some volume to bolster margins.
Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for Autotrader, says Nissan will have a big challenge ahead because it relied on incentives in the best of times. What will it do, she wonders, now that the industry is "off peak"?
For its part, Nissan cut incentive spending 5.4 percent in 2018. Rogue incentives dropped from an average of $3,966 per unit in 2017 to $3,912 last year.
"I don't know if they'll really stick to their guns," Krebs said of Nissan. "We've heard them say this before. Do they have the discipline to back off incentives and fleet sales when the whole market is going to dip down a bit? They're in a challenging position."
Even if Honda and Nissan dial back, incentive levels could play an outsize role in the compact crossover segment.
On Edmunds' cross-shopping data for the CR-V, Acevedo says, the No. 1 competitor is the RAV4, followed by the Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester and Outback and the Rogue.
"A lot of times, when you look at these numbers, there is some intrabrand shopping, people figuring out where the CR-V stacks up within the Honda lineup," he said. "That is just not the case [here]. This segment is so competitive. They know they're going to get one of these compact crossovers."
While the RAV4 has been No. 1 in sales in the category, Krebs said it has been trailing the CR-V in consideration. Some of Toyota's sales, she said, are likely fleet sales as Toyota increased its fleet presence in 2018. Honda has long avoided that business.
Hans Greimel contributed to this report.