In 1994, Toyota debuted the first-ever CUV. It was a smash hit, and other automakers rushed their own versions into production to cash in on this new market segment. Some were better than others, but just how well did Honda's answer to the RAV4 measure up?
Honda made its name with reliable, basic, and wallet-friendly transportation. The CR-V is no different. It's nothing fancy, but it's still a good vehicle all-around. Some might even say that it's the Honda Civic of small SUVs!
Note: Due to the inaccessibility of our CR-V, which is a 45 minute ferry ride away from me, I'll just be filling this review with pictures taken off the internet.
Styling on this car is very Honda. Nothing too exotic or radical, but still nice to look at and overall a very handsome vehicle. It looks sort of like a very tall Civic or Accord. As far as aging is concerned it still looks modern, but it's quite obvious that this is not a new vehicle. Those chunky grey bumpers are an immediate give-away that this was a product of the 90's, as are the thin pillars and large glass area.
Much like the exterior, the interior of the CR-V looks like someone took the dash out of a Civic or Accord and stretched it upwards a bit. It's very functional, with a bare minimum of features and a very plain center console. Button placement feels a bit poorly planned. You really have to feel for the panel brightness wheel, and the buttons for the A/C, recirculator, and rear defroster are too far away. They also feel exactly the same so you have to take your eyes off the road to see which one you're trying to hit.
One of the biggest complaints I have about this car is the driver's window switch. The driver's control for the windows is on the dash, and the switch on the door where it should be (all other doors have the window switch in that location) is the power lock. I've spent probably close to 8,000 miles in this car and I still hit that switch almost every time I go for the windows.
I do like the golf-ball patterned material on all the "gripping" surfaces though, and the visibility is excellent. The interior isn't a bad place to be, but there's just nothing special about it. It gets low points because it's boring.
The engine in this car is basically a punched-out version of the Civic's 4-cylinder, displacing 2 liters and delivering a modest 147 hp and 133 ft-lbs of torque. This engine was added for the 1999-2001 model years to address complaints of the original 126hp engine being too anemic. The CR-V's not exactly fast, but despite the car's size and heavy 4wd system it makes the 0-60 run in 8.5 seconds. It's more than capable of getting out of its own way, and it's economical too! Even with an automatic, careful driving will return about 22 city/26 highway mpg.
What can I say? They're just brakes, nothing fancy. They operate very oddly, though, and it takes some getting used to. As you press the pedal it's nothing... nothing... nothing... and then suddenly they grab and everything in the car lurches forward.
Ride and handling: 3/10
A sports car this is not. The body rolls like a much heavier vehicle, and the ride manages to be both wobbly and jarring at the same time. Every little bump in the road results in a loud BANG and the whole car shaking like a bowl of Jell-O. Handling isn't dangerous, but it's scary enough that you'd want to avoid exploring the limits of grip. The steering is decently sharp and has a nice weight, but not a whole lot of feedback.
Oh, dear. Ergonomically, this car is a disaster of such proportion that they should be offering FEMA trailers to people who have to drive them for extended periods of time. Tall people need not apply, I'm a modest 6' and even with the seat all the way back my knees don't fit under the dash and they start to ache after driving for a while. The steering wheel is also low and far away, so you're basically driving with you arms outstretched on your lap.
The seats are horrible as well, they offer no support whatsoever and have little bolstering. After a long trip in the car, you get out and it feels like someone's kicked you in the tailbone. On hot days you might even start to chafe on the back of your thighs due to sliding around on the seat because of the aforementioned lack of bolsters.
It's not the worst automatic I've experienced. The car's got a 4-speed with overdrive, so there's plenty of ratios to make use of the rev-happy Honda engine. It seems to have trouble deciding when to shift when you mash the pedal, but otherwise it's fairly unobtrusive to the driving experience. Unlike other cheap cars, you don't spend the whole ride constantly wishing for a different transmission.
Again, we're talking basic transportation. It's got A/C, power mirrors, and a 6-disc CD changer. That's about it. There is a handy, dandy, totally-not-useless-at-all folding picnic table under the trunk floor, though.
Perhaps the CR-V's strongest point, aside from its price and practicality, is the way it sounds. Even though it doesn't have VTEC, it's still a Honda engine so it sounds great at high revs. Get it above 5k and let your ears thank you.
This one actually is ours:
Only three things will survive the nuclear holocaust; cockroaches, twinkies, and Hondas. Ours is currently boasting 234 thousand miles on the odometer and everything, save for the tiny clock on the dashboard, works. Aside from the typical parts like exhausts and motor mounts, we've never had to sink a large amount of money into its upkeep. Not bad for a car purchased for $1000, eh?
See? I wasn't lying about the mileage!
Final Score: 44/100, not great but not too shabby either.
So, guys, how did I do on my first review?