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Review: Honda CRV EX

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SEE ALSO: Honda Buyer's Guide

By Annabelle Frankl

With a new look for 2002, the CRV can now be counted as a classy member of the small-ish SUV class. Extremely comfortable, and roomy, it’s affordable transportation for 5…plus luggage - amazing, I know! Yes, believe it or not, you can actually seat 5 full-sized people and their bags…lots of them. With 33.5 cubic feet of cargo room, you can even bring the kitchen sink.

And with a 2.4 liter, DOHC I-VTEC engine, you’ll still be able to motor with a full load. Producing 160 horses at 6000 revs, and 162-ft-lb of torque, at 3600 revs, the CRV pulls a nice punch in the acceleration department. The 5-speed manual transmission is smooth, the clutch has just the right amount of spring, only the vertical handbrake takes a little getting used to. The suspension, with Macpherson strut at front, double wishbone at rear, is good and firm, and with 15” alloys and real-time 4WD, the CRV proves itself capable of retaining good contact with the road. Cornering, as with most of the smaller SUVs, should be done at a reduced speed; they just can’t take the G’s, but the variable assist power rack and pinion steering means that handling is at least light and responsive.

Equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS, the CRV demonstrated excellent stopping ability, without a loss of control, when cut-up (quite unnecessarily, I should add) by a fellow motorist. Mirrors, anyone? I was using mine, and they provided good, all-round visibility. Unfortunately, there are just too many erratic drivers to spot at once!

The CRV is very nicely laid out inside, although the poopy-diaper colour interior would not be my choice. Black, black, black! Or at least a nice shade of cream, anything but this muck-coloured brown! The central controls are easy to read and operate. I particularly like the large dials for the climate control, and good amounts of front and central storage. The EX comes equipped with dual side, plus driver and front airbags, cruise control, in-dash, 6-CD plus 6 speakers, and a removable picnic table, no less, of which Honda seem rather proud!

Rear passengers are spoilt by 39.4 inches of rear legroom, and total passenger volume is 106 cubic inches. The CRV also has a towing capacity of 1500 lbs, and the 15-gallon tank will give you about 21/25, city/highway.

With an MSRP of $21,500 for the manual, $22,300 for the automatic, the CRV EX proves to be competitive amongst the RAV 4’s and Vitara’s on the market. Offering a lot more room than its predecessor, and a well-thought out, eye-catching design, it’s definitely one to consider in the (roomy) small SUV market.