2005 Honda CR-V

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2002 Honda CR-V

This 2002 review is representative of model years 2002 to 2006.
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
Rating: 7

Bottom Line:

Key improvements should keep revamped CR-V among the leaders.
Pros:
  • More power
  • Roomier
  • Sharper styling
Cons:
  • Awkward handbrake control
  • Occasional bouncy ride
  • Little off-road prowess

The magical Honda name and good utility have made the car-like CR-V sport-utility vehicle very popular since its introduction in 1997. The second-generation model has been revamped to make it more competitive in the growing market for smaller sport-utilities.

The 2002 CR-V should especially give the hot, fairly new Ford Escape and redone Toyota RAV4 a good run for the money.

The CR-V always has had bland styling. While no head-turner, the restyled 2002 model has a crisper appearance. It also has more room, a larger 4-cylinder engine, a new chassis, tighter construction, higher refinement and additional features.

Roomier
The CR-V body is only slightly longer and wider, but a nicely redesigned interior allows more passenger room. Four tall adults easily fit in larger seats, although tall drivers may wish that their seat moved back farther.

Front seats are supportive, and the reclining split rear seat slides nearly 7 inches forwards and backwards. Although occupants sit high, a low floor allows easy entry and big outside door handles can be quickly gripped.

The airy interior is quiet except for some road noise and has three large, classy-looking dials for the climate control system. The new steering wheel is easy to grip, but sits at a slightly bus-like angle. Audio controls are positioned high in the center of the dashboard within a driver's line of sight, but are a stretch for folks with short arms.

Awkward Handbrake
The new pistol-grip handbrake pulls out from the dashboard area near the driver to allow more interior space. But it's an awfully high-effort device.

Cargo room is good and becomes impressively large with the rear seat folded entirely forward, partly because the compact new rear wishbone suspension allows more space back there.

Handy Liftgate
The big cargo door swings toward a right-side curb, which doesn't facilitate curbside loading. However, the cargo door has a glass liftgate that can be popped up to enable smaller objects to be tossed in the CR-V without opening the door.

Thankfully, the liftgate no longer must be popped up before the door can be opened.

Rear windows lower all the way, but rear-seat headrests partly block driver visibility. A handy tray flips up between the front seats and there are plenty of cupholders and storage areas.

With all the improvements, what more could anyone ask for? Well, how about a V6, which is available for Ford's Escape?

More Potent Engine
However, the CR-V, which has always needed more punch, finally has a larger engine. Horsepower of the new 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is 160. That's up from 146 horsepower generated by the old 2.0-liter four, which was too small for such a fairly big sport-ute.

There is a significant torque increase at low- to mid-range speeds, and the smoother, new engine no longer sounds strained unless it is pushed hard. Throttle response is significantly better and the CR-V has faster acceleration. It hits 60 mph in 8.5 seconds with the 5-speed manual transmission, but takes a little longer to reach that speed with the decent 4-speed automatic.

High Revs
Still, a larger engine would be appreciated because the CR-V engine revs at a high 3500 rpm at 75 mph with the automatic transmission. Even 60 mph calls for 3000 rpm, when you might expect to see only about 2500 rpm registered on the tachometer.

Fuel economy ranges from an estimated 23 mpg in the city and 28 on highways with front-drive and the automatic transmission to 21 and 25 with the all-wheel-drive trim and manual gearbox.

More Function Than Fun
The CR-V dislikes being driven hard; it continues to be designed more for function than fun. Push it more than moderately hard and you'll encounter tire squeal and significant body lean. Nevertheless, the rather heavy power steering is quick and the CR-V is very maneuverable.

Comfortable Ride
The ride is supple and generally well controlled, although the new all-independent suspension occasionally allows a little rocking and pitching on uneven or substandard roads. Stopping distances are short, and the brake pedal has a nice linear feel.

The high-quality CR-V comes with front- or all-wheel drive, although there is no low-range gearing for serious off-road jaunts. The CR-V has always been designed mainly for driving on paved roads or smooth trails.

Base prices range from $18,800 for the front-drive LX with the 4-speed automatic transmission to $22,300 for the top-line EX with standard all-wheel-drive and the automatic. The shifter for the automatic juts from the dashboard to make controls easy to reach.

No ABS for Base Trim
The EX has anti-lock brakes, which are not offered for the LX. Why not—considering that they're a major safety item? Because Honda says few LX buyers ordered them.

However, all CR-V trims are well equipped, although the top-line EX has features such as a 6-disc in-dash CD player instead of a single-disc player in the LX. New EX features include a power moonroof and rear disc brakes. It also has standard side airbags up front, which cost $250 for the LX.

Improved in most respects, the new CR-V should continue to be one of the most desirable sport utes.

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BB04 - 4/18/2014 1:56:57 PM