New Car/Review

1999 HONDA CR-V 4WD EX

By Tom Hagin

Honda Full Line factory footage (16:28) 28.8, 56k, or 200k
SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,250
Price As Tested                                    $ 21,665
Engine Type               DOHC 16-valve 2.0 Liter I4 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 120 cid/1972 cc
Horsepower                                   146 @ 6200 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               133 @ 4500 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                  103.2"/68.9"/177.6"
Transmission                           Four-speed automatic
Curb Weight                                     3183 pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  15.3 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                 205/70R15 95S M&S (Mud & Snow)
Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/drum (ABS)
Drive Train                   Front-engine/four-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/five-door
Domestic Content                                       None
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            22/25/24
0-60 MPH                                       11.0 Seconds
Maximum payload                                  870 pounds
Towing capacity                                 1000 pounds
     * Multi-point fuel injection

The Honda CR-V mini-sport/utility vehicle was introduced in the U.S. as a 1997 vehicle. What most Americans didn't know is that it had already enjoyed phenomenal success in Japan for two years, exceeding by five times the company's expectations.

It hasn't changed much for 1999, and it's still available in two-or four-wheel drive, in LX or uplevel EX trim.

OUTSIDE - The CR-V is tall and wide compared to some of the other mini SUVs on the market. Honda did an admirable job of making it look well-proportioned. It offers a relatively straightforward look, with its Accord-like grille slipped between a wide pair of rectangular headlights. Both the front and rear bumpers, along with the side rub strip, are matte black in color, while the door handles and outside mirrors are painted body color. If any part of CR-V's styling can be called daring it must be its taillights, which are mounted high in the rearmost roof pillar where they're easily seen by following motorists. EX models such as our tester are fitted with sporty alloy wheels, including the rear door-mounted spare. The lower half of the rear door swings open to the right, which, unfortunately, prevents curbside loading, and the glass hatch swings upward.

INSIDE - Among the current crop of mini SUVs, the CR-V is the interior space leader by far. It easily accommodates four adults, though there are seat belts for five. The view from inside is panoramic, with a tall driving position and lots of glass. Analog instruments are simple to read in their pod, while the stereo and ventilation controls sit high in the dash and are easy to operate while driving. The front seats are wide and flat, with a fair amount of bolstering, but we found the seat padding somewhat firm for our tastes. The center console folds down with the flip of a lever to give access the rear seat. Its rear compartment is spacious and the floor is low for easy loading, while under the carpeting is a fold-up picnic table that stows neatly in the floor. Under that is a waterproof well that allows wet items to be stored out of the way. Standard CR-V features include power windows, outside mirrors and door locks, air conditioning with a micron filtration system, cruise control, rear wiper/washer/defroster and an AM/FM/Cassette stereo.

ON THE ROAD - When it first arrived here, the CR-V was accused on being underpowered. Its 2.0 liter, 16 valve engine didn't satisfy everyone because of its rather tepid performance. Honda has rectified that by adding 20 horsepower for a total of 146, along with 133 lb-ft of torque, the same amount of torque as before. The extra power was achieved by increasing the engine's compression ratio, and by re-tuning the intake and exhaust systems. The newfound power is noticeable, especially from 30-70 miles per hour, about the speed it takes to enter a highway on-ramp. Our tester came equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission, with what Honda calls Grade Logic, which uses the vehicle's computer system to monitor whether the car is going uphill or down, then alters the transmission's shift points for the best gear changes possible. A five-speed manual transmission is also available.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - Honda borrowed heavily from its parts bin to assemble the CR-V. The unibody chassis uses a four-wheel independent suspension from the Civic, while all-wheel-drive models use hardware borrowed from several other Japanese-market models. CR-V's suspension consists of dual A-arms up front and trailing arms and lateral links in back. Anti-roll bars are fitted front and rear. Around town, power is delivered to the front wheels until the computer senses slip. Then power is transferred to the rear wheels. The CR-V is tuned to ride softly, soaking bumps easily and predictably, though large pavement undulations can become bothersome. Power rack-and-pinion steering is standard, as are front disc and rear drum brakes. A four-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS) is standard on EX models.

SAFETY - Dual airbags, ABS and side-impact beams are standard.

OPTIONS - There were no options on our test vehicle.

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