By Danny Chang
- Conservative styling
- Good trunk space for a compact crossover
- Decent MPG
- Nav/Entertainment unit with interface from 1985
- Tight rear seat
- Bo…yawn…ring styling
- Tailgate “lip” gets in the way
The Honda CR-V is one of the best selling compact crossovers in America, competing with the likes of Ford Escape, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, and the new Kia Sportage, just to name a few. This is a very crowded segment that includes some new unconventional entries like the Nissan JUKE and luxury entrants like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. The third generation CR-V has been on sale in the US since the 2007 model year and is due to be replaced by a brand new 2012 CR-V in mid- 2011.
The CR-V is not exactly what one would call a blast to drive. Not that you expect anything more from the CR-V. Just look at the numbers: 2.4 liter in-line 4-cylinder engine, 180 horsepower @6800 RPM and 160 lb-ft or torque @4400 RPM. Not exactly anything to write home about. But the power is decent and merging onto the freeway is not an issue at all. Accelerating from 60 to pass cars in the fast lane is also not a challenge, to my delight. The steering feel is actually very solid, not light and fluffy like I expected in a Honda. I pushed the CR-V a bit through some curves on small suburban roads around Silicon Valley and it handled just fine. All in all, the CR-V handles decently and has sufficient power to get around town.
While the CR-V had a slight facelift in 2010 and is fairly stylish compared to the rest of the Honda line-up, the rest of the market has accelerated way past it in terms of styling. The third generation CR-V was first launched in the 2007 model year and its age is showing despite the 2010 tweak. It is extremely easy to lose your CR-V in the Safeway parking lot, especially if you bought the dark burgundy one like the tester I had.
The front end of the CR-V is not offensive, but it does feature a weird smiling lower grille, which is an awkward attempt to break up the bumper to make it look thinner. The profile of the third-generation CR-V is more aerodynamic compared to the previous two generations thanks to the sloping greenhouse, but the tail end is very nondescript and doesn’t exactly inspire passion. The spare tire is now under the trunk floorboard instead of on the back of the car like the previous generations. This is more practical but does remove a bit of the perceived ruggedness of the previous CR-V.