HEELS ON WHEELS: 2008 HONDA CR-V REVIEW
INTRO TO THE 2009 HONDA CR-V
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
What does CR-V stand for? There are discrepancies within the Honda marketing literature – could be Comfortable Runabout Vehicle or Compact Recreational Vehicle. But there is no confusion the CR-V is known as a CUV – Crossover Utility Vehicle. For a vehicle that debuted in 1997 with doubt it would actually find a niche, it's certainly a leader in its class.
Honda did a great thing when they ditched the CR-V's traditional two-box SUV shape a year ago – the curvaceous design continues with its sleek, arched side windows and lowered stance for the 2008 model.
I drove a 5-door 2008 Honda CR-V EX-L with the standard 166-horsepower 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, and four-wheel drive. Total price for the vehicle (without destination charges) is $28,400.
Not much has changed in one year for the CR-V, which is a good thing because it means drivers are happy. Nothing has changed on the engine front, expect the fact Honda sized down or re-estimated the gas mileage for the 2.4-liter engine (they used to claim 22-mpg city and 26-mpg highway driving); nor on the safety (still very good). It still has 7 speakers, heated seats; but has added dual-zone climate controls and driver's 8-way power seating.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: While it certainly offers proficient interior for its class, even at the highest trim Hondas are still not nearly as upscale as many of the other CUVs on the market (including the company's own Acura models). The CR-V still does not have the best usages of space in relation to the center console, with the shifter situated up so high. A more elaborate center console could gloss the interior. The Satellite-Linked Navigation System features more than 6 million points of interest and the voice recognition is capable of recognizing and inputting numbers, street names and cities, along with controlling the audio system. XM® Satellite Radio is standard on the EX-L. All CR-V audio systems have MP3/WMA CD playback capability and Speed-Sensitive Volume Control (SVC) that automatically adjusts the volume based on vehicle speed.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The CR-V is safe bet for many, many reasons. The vehicle is continually rated as having excellent reliability – the 2008 model scored especially well in overall safety based on accident-avoidance and crash protection tests.
Cost Issues: The bottom line is the CR-V is an affordable crossover. Hondas as a whole have very little problems, being the top-rated auto manufacturer in Consumer Report's (CR) opinion. The few cheaper vehicles than a Honda CR-V (with the basic EX trim) and a tad bit more praise bestowed by CR are the base 4-cylander Toyota RAV4 ($23,163) and the Subaru Forester 2.5x ($22,040).
Activity & Performance Ability: Like all Hondas, performance is zippy with responsive acceleration and braking. The CR-V has what is called a Real Time™ 4-wheel drive ready to handle realistic bad-weather encounters. The Real Time 4WD system is fully automatic so it's going to take care of business whether you know it or not, sending power only to the rear wheels when there is insufficient traction.
The Green Concern: Mileage estimates for this trim are 20-mpg city and 26-mpg highway driving, garnering about 21-mpg with my driving – better than most.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
If you want the interior to look and feel like a minivan, but the exterior to resemble an upscale crossover like the BMW X5, then you've got the best of both worlds (plus worlds of safety) in the Honda CR-V. Better than most in its class on the gas consumption, too.
©2008 Katrina Ramser