2002 Honda CR-V EX 4WD

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide

DRIVING DOWN THE ROAD WITH CAREY RUSS

    Compared to the original, the second-generation 2002 Honda CR-
V is bigger inside, but not much bigger outside. That makes it all the 
better to hold people and more stuff in comfort, without sacrificing 
ease of use in the CR-V's natural habitat, crowded urban and 
suburban roads and parking lots. And the interior has been 
redesigned for increased versatility. The new engine has more 
power, but uses less gasoline, with lower emissions. The new chassis 
structure is more rigid, benefiting comfort, handling, and safety. 
    
    Like other members of the small ``crossover'' car-like SUV class, 
the CR-V is not meant for serious off-road use. But it can handle all 
of the hazards of urban and suburban use, where ground clearance is 
important when someone's muffler suddenly appears in the road in 
front of you, and the city may not plow snow all that frequently in 
the winter. With the ``Real Time''(tm) four-wheel drive system and 
eight inches of clearance, it can handle slippery roads, paved or dirt, 
and get to places where you can use that CR-V trademark, the picnic 
table that is stored under the rear cargo area.

    The 2002 Honda CR-V is offered in well-equipped LX, LX 4WD, 
and EX 4WD trim levels, all with the new 160-horsepower 2.4-liter 
engine. I've been driving an EX for the past week. While true to the 
first-generation CR-V in concept, and still conveniently-sized 
outside, I'm impressed by its increased interior size and even better 
design. There's plenty of space, and there are plenty of ways to use 
that space. The new engine improves performance, with no loss of 
economy. The 2002 Honda CR-V may not be the SUV of back-of-
beyond fantasies, but it is definitely a real, any very useful, vehicle 
for the everyday world. 

APPEARANCE: The second-generation CR-V's styling is 
evolutionarily descended from the original. It's only an inch or two 
larger in any given measurement than its forebear, but seems larger 
and more solid because of its sculpted looks. It's a two-box SUV in 
basic shape and proportion, with clean, well-defined styling. The 
front end sets the motif, with fenders higher than the hood and 
delineated by sharp creases. Large, bright, pointed multi-element 
headlights and the trapezoidal grille establish it as a Honda, even 
without looking at the ``H'' badge on a chromed horizontal bar in 
the middle of the grille. The ``higher sides'' theme is carried back to 
the tail of the vehicle by the dark-colored integrated roof rack, which 
complements the black bumpers and lower cladding. The rear has 
the familiar vertical taillights, framing a side-hinged tailgate with an 
externally-mounted spare tire. 

COMFORT: Honda has done a masterful job of increasing and 
rearranging space inside of the CR-V. There are no pretensions to 
luxury, no leather and ersatz wood trim packages, just good, honest, 
synthetic materials and plenty of room for five people and luggage. 
It could be a Civic or Accord wagon, but the CR-V is taller, for 
great head and cargo room. It is at the top of its class for interior 
space, and the interior layout takes advantage of that. The floor is 
flat, and there is no console between the front fully-reclining 
buckets, only a useful compartmented tray that folds down to allow 
walk-through access to the rear seat. Two adults fit comfortably in 
the rear seat, or three more snugly - but not too snugly. The rear 
seat is split 60/40, and each section has 6.7 inches of fore-and-aft 
travel and a semi-reclining back. When the rear seat isn't holding 
people, each section may be folded flat or tumbled forward, and 
there is enough for a bicycle to fit without removing its front wheel. 
There are more than 21 small to medium storage spaces, and, yes, 
there is still a folding picnic table covering the space under the load 
floor. Back up front, the driver is treated to a well-designed 
instrument panel and tilt-adjustable steering wheel. Manual 
transmission CR-Vs have their shift levers on the floor, but 
automatics have in coming out of the instrument panel much like the 
Odyssey minivan. That makes for a conveniently flat front floor. 

SAFETY: The 2002 Honda CR-V EX has driver and front 
passenger front and side air bags, front and rear crumple zones, side 
impact protection beams, three-point safety belts for all positions, 
and an immobilizer antitheft system.

ROADABILITY: The CR-V's carlike nature shows on the road. 
Although the high seating position gives great visibility, the center of 
gravity is low and the fully-independent suspension is standard 
modern car specification, with toe-link control MacPherson struts at 
the front and a double wishbone setup at the rear. It's as comfortable 
as any comparably-priced midsized sedan, and handles nearly as 
well. It is higher than a Civic Si or S2000, so fast cornering is not in 
the program, but 8.1 inches of ground clearance and the ``Real 
Time'' (tm) four-wheel drive system allow it to go places that sports 
cars can't. In normal use, the CR-V is front-wheel drive; power is 
automatically transferred to the rear wheels when necessary, without 
driver intervention.

PERFORMANCE: More power with better fuel economy and lower 
emissions may seem contradictory, but not for Honda. The 2002 
CR-V's 2.4-liter alloy twincam four-cylinder engine uses ``i-
VTEC'', the newest variation on Honda's VTEC variable valve 
timing and lift control system to accomplish those seemingly 
conflicting ends. i-VTEC adds continuous cam phasing on the intake 
camshaft to the existing VTEC technology to generate a maximum 
160 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 162 lb-ft of torque at 3600 rpm, 
with a very broad torque curve for easy drivability. That's noticeably 
more than the previous 146 horsepower and 133 lb-ft, so even 
though the new CR-V is heavier than the old one, it's quicker, 
faster, and more efficient. It also meets LEV II emission standards. 
A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but mine had the 
optional four-speed automatic. Because of the engine's fine, broad 
torque spread, it works very well and uses ``Grade Logic Control'' 
computer circuitry for better shifting performance.

CONCLUSIONS: The second-generation Honda CR-V starts where 
the original left off, with more power, more space, and more 
refinement.

SPECIFICATIONS
2002 Honda CR-V EX 4WD

Base Price			$ 22,300
Price As Tested		        $ 22,760
Engine Type			dual overhead cam, 16-valve, 
                                 aluminum alloy inline four-cylinder
                                 with ``I-VTEC'' variable valve timing 
                                 and lift control
Engine Size			2.4 liters / x cu. in.
Horsepower			160 @ 6000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft)			162 @ 3600 rpm
Transmission			4-speed automatic
Wheelbase / Length		103.1 in. / 178.6 in.
Curb Weight			3347 lbs.
Pounds Per Horsepower	        20.9
Fuel Capacity			15.3 gal.
Fuel Requirement		87 octane unleaded regular gasoline
Tires				P205/75 SR15 Bridgestone Dueler H/T
Brakes, front/rear		vented disc / solid disc,
                                 ABS standard 
on EX
Suspension, front/rear		independent toe-control link 
                                MacPherson strut /
				  independent double wishbone
Ground clearance		8.1 inches
Drivetrain			front engine, all-wheel drive

PERFORMANCE
EPA Fuel Economy - miles per gallon
    city / highway / observed		22 / 26 / x
0 to 60 mph				est. 10  sec
Towing capacity			        1500 lbs

OPTIONS AND CHARGES
Destination charge			$ 460
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