2006 Honda CR-V
By Dan Jedlicka of MSN Autos
The Honda CR-V provides nearly everything most people want in a compact sport-utility vehicle, despite a few annoying flaws.
The CR-V was one of the first car-like SUVs when introduced for 1997. It likely would be called a "crossover" vehicle if it arrived for 2006 because it has crossover features such as a convenient size, roomy interior and car-like ride and handling.
The reasonably handsome CR-V comes in entry level LX trim with front- or all-wheel drive. The midrange EX and top-line SE versions have all-wheel drive, although there's no low-range gearing for serious off-road driving.
List prices are up slightly for 2006, ranging from $20,395 to $25,450. But proven reliability should help the CR-V continue to have high resale value.
The sophisticated 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine generates 156 horsepower, but competitors such as the Ford Escape offer a quieter, smoother V6. The CR-V engine has enough punch for lively in-town use, but highway performance is just average partly because this SUV is rather heavy with its long list of standard features.
The EX adds a power sunroof, an in-dash 6-disc CD changer, steering wheel radio controls and alloy wheels. The SE adds leather upholstery, heated front seats and heated mirrors.
While it's no highway tiger for maneuvers such as passing, the CR-V is an easy open-road cruiser once up to speed. The tachometer reads a relaxed 2300 rpm at 70 mph with the responsive 5-speed automatic transmission. A 5-speed manual gearbox is offered, but only for the LX.
Estimated fuel economy is 21-23 mpg in the city and 26-29 on the highway. Regular grade gasoline can be used.
Notable Safety Features
The CR-V has fairly large 16-inch wheels, but the moderately wide 65-series tires are more for ride comfort than flat cornering. Those tires and an all-independent suspension provide a supple ride. There's marked body lean when the CR-V is driven rapidly through curves, but it has generally nimble handling and is stable at higher speeds.
Fun to Drive
A low floor and wide door openings make it easy to slip into the CR-V. Occupants sit high in the nicely designed cockpit, which is airy and plenty roomy for four tall adults. The back seat slides fore and aft a lot for more legroom. However, there's noticeable wind and road noise above 70 mph.
The front seats provide good side and thigh support, and gauges can be quickly read. Audio controls are placed high for easy use, and the climate control system has unusually large controls—although some occupants may feel they are positioned too low.
Small storage pockets are in all doors, and the dashboard has two moderately large storage bins with covers for such objects as cell phones and cameras.
A flip-up tray with dual cupholders is between the front seats, and a third cupholder pops out from the center of the dashboard.
Curbside Loading Hampered
The CR-V should at least offer an optional V6 engine, but is above-average in most respects.