The new approach is embodied in the exterior styling. Where the first generation was somewhat novel and the second utilitarian, the new Honda CRV car attempts to incorporate a bit of style in its exterior shell. With Honda’s penchant for animal inspiration, the basic design template for this one seems to be the bulldog. How else to explain that aggressive split grille, jutting jaw and bulging eyes?
The Honda CRV car has shed all pretense of being an off-roader. It looks ready for a trip to the mall, not a muddy trail. The spare tire has been removed from the rear door, allowing it to swing upwards like a regular hatch. There’s a major improvement in rear visibility. The large hatch does need some clearance space to open, as it cuts down to the bumper level. Once open, loading and unloading is a sure bet thanks to the wide and deep opening. The trademark picnic table has also been banished, but the under-floor (and presumably waterproof) compartments remain.
The cabin enjoys the same meticulous attention to detail. The door trim is comprised of five different material types and colors, but it all looks harmonious. A strip of “brushed metal” and the stitched leather on the armrest help lend it an upscale appearance. The center console is a large box enclosed by a roll-top type cover. Inside it is an auxiliary 12-volt power outlet and the iPod input jack.
It’s easy to find the ideal driving position, thanks to the tilt-telescoping wheel and eight-way seats. The center dashboard has switches for the audio and air con borrowed from the Accord. That is a good move, because there is no clearer layout for switches. The gearlever is a stubby lever mounted on the lower dashboard to free up floor space.
Complementing the space-saving gearbox, the floor is completely flat throughout the cabin. The net single-piece floor mats at the font and rear emphasize this feature.
Powering the top version of the Honda CRV is a 2.4 liter four-cylinder with 16 valves actuated by VTEC variable lift and timing. The system adjusts the valves’ breathing to deliver more torque at low rpm and power at high revs. The result is an engine that feels bigger that its displacement. It doesn’t have the torque from the diesel Hyundai or big displacement Mitsubishi, but on the road it feels like it has adequate punch.
Making every Newton meter of torque count is the five-speed automatic transmission. As this car is meant to have simple and easy operation, there is no manual shift gate, paddles, or other means of intuitively driving it like a manual. That’s really too bad, because the engine is eager to rev and gives off a throaty note once the VTEC engages the second cam profile. Given that limitation, the automatic responds quickly to prods on the throttle. Downshifts are prompt and the transmission is willing to hold gear till the red line.
The four-wheel drive system needs no intervention from the driver. It normally powers the front wheels only, hooking up the rears via a multiplate clutch when needed. The system remained transparent in operation, and never upset the car’s balance with an untimely intervention.
The VTEC car system almost makes up for the CRV’s lack of cc’s and cylinders, giving up little in terms of real-world performance. We did have to wind it up to feel the power, but when time comes to gas up, the tables will be turned. The fuel efficiency of its 2.4 liter also provides plenty of comfort – to your wallet. As this is a family-oriented vehicle, safety features aren’t lacking either.
Honda CRV Supercars