Honda introduced a Special Edition (SE) model of the CR-V in the spring of 2000 as a midyear addition designed to perk up sales of this car-based SUV. For 2001, the SE becomes part of the regular CR-V lineup. Leather seats; a CD player; and body-color bumpers, side moldings and a hard spare tire cover are among the SEs standard features.
Derived from the previous generation Civic platform, the CR-V has been the most popular car-based SUV, but it faces increased competition this year from the redesigned Toyota RAV4, the new Ford Escape and the Mazda Tribute.
Honda plans to redesign the CR-V for the 2002 model year. It will be built off the new Civic platform but will have a more powerful engine.
The CR-V is a four-door wagon with classic SUV styling that hides its passenger-car origins. The overall length of 177 is 4 inches longer than the Ford Escape. Access to the cargo area is through a two-way tailgate: The window flips up, and the tailgate swings open to the right (with the outside spare tire attached).
CR-V has the typical SUV seating arrangements of two front buckets and a three-place rear bench that folds flat for maximum cargo room of 67 cubic feet. Among the unique touches is a plastic cargo cover that folds out to create a picnic table. Also unusual for a Japanese brand vehicle is that the automatic transmission lever is on the steering column instead of the floor.
Under the Hood
A 146-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is used on all models and comes with either a four-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. Front- and four-wheel-drive models are available, and the Real Time 4WD system engages automatically to maintain traction. Honda describes the CR-V as suited for light-duty offroad adventures and not serious off-roading.
The CR-V is the best-selling car-based SUV because it offers ample room in a manageable size, good fuel economy and the security of 4WD in a vehicle that looks like a sport ute. The engine lacks a strong punch for passing, and theres too much noise at highway speeds, but the CR-V is a smooth, capable performer available at reasonable prices. The new Ford Escape emerges as formidable competition, however.