Many newcomers have entered the compact sport utility vehicle market since Honda launched its car-based CR-V as a 1997 model. To meet that assault, Honda completely redesigned its SUV for 2002, giving it more interior space and a stronger engine.
For 2005, the CR-V gets a substantial update that includes new exterior and interior styling. A new Special Edition features heated leather front seats and body-colored bumpers. All versions now have side-impact and side curtain-type airbags, as well as Honda's Vehicle Stability Assist electronic stability system. A five-speed-automatic transmission is available on all models, but the EX can be equipped with a five-speed manual instead. Honda claims that a modified all-wheel-drive system yields better acceleration and hill climbing. All models have remote keyless entry.
LX versions can be equipped with front- or all-wheel drive. The upscale EX and new SE come only with all-wheel drive. The 2005 CR-V has earned impressive crash-test ratings for frontal and side impacts from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Semi-traditional SUV styling continues to conceal the CR-V's passenger-car platform. Styling features include a short, sharply raked nose and high-visibility rear lights. An aerodynamic front bumper, restyled grille, updated side sills and cylindrical-shaped headlights are new for 2005.
EX and SE versions are equipped with a moonroof and privacy glass. All models ride on 16-inch wheels.
Each CR-V seats up to five occupants in front bucket seats and a three-place rear bench. The reclining and sliding rear bench seat is split 60/40, and it folds and tumbles. Cargo volume is 72 cubic feet with the rear seat folded and 33.5 cubic feet with the backseat up. A retractable grab rail is new for 2005.
Under the Hood
The CR-V's 2.4-liter four-cylinder develops 160 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque. The EX comes standard with a five-speed-manual transmission; a five-speed automatic is available. All other models come standard with the automatic. Front- and all-wheel-drive models are available.
All-disc antilock brakes, Vehicle Stability Assist, and side-impact and side curtain-type airbags are standard. A bumper beam on all models was designed to match the height of passenger-car bumpers.
The CR-V is quiet, smooth, refined and classy. This SUV is neatly stable, stays easily on course, maneuvers crisply and yields an enjoyable driving experience. The ride isn't wholly gentle, but it's smooth most of the time. Occupants feel the bumps, but few are annoying.
Though the CR-V is pleasantly peppy when equipped with a manual gearbox, it isn't quite as vigorous with an automatic transmission on steep upgrades. Engine blare at full throttle may be noticeable. The manual gearbox shifts easily and teams with a well-behaved clutch.
Firm but well-cushioned seats have snug side bolstering. Protruding from below the dashboard, the automatic-transmission lever operates as easily as a column shifter.