Many newcomers have entered the compact SUV market since Honda launched its car-based CR-V as a 1997 model. Redesigned for 2007, the CR-V's top-of-the-line EX-L trim level gains more standard features for 2008. Competitors include the Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4.
The 2008 CR-V comes in three trim levels: base LX; EX, which has a standard moonroof and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls; and the EX-L, which adds leather seats, heated front seats and an optional navigation system. An eight-way power driver's seat and dual-zone automatic air conditioning are now standard on the EX-L, and models without the navigation system now have an audio system with a subwoofer.
The boxy shape of past CR-Vs gave way to a rounder appearance with the 2007 redesign, particularly in the rear, sloping windows. Subtle creases on the bodyside and around the wheel wells also help the CR-V avoid the slab-sided look of early-generation SUVs. Up front, a distinctive grille has an upper opening holding the Honda badge, and a lower, wider opening below. The twin grille is combined with a wide, jutting bumper and bodywork.
The door handles and side mirrors on the EX-L trim are body-colored, and the brake lights have a slim, vertical design.
The current CR-V is about 3 inches shorter than the previous generation — mostly because the spare tire no longer hangs at the rear bumper — an inch wider and roughly the same height. It loses almost an inch of ground clearance, but given that it's a car-based crossover, it's doubtful the average buyer will be concerned with the CR-V's offroad prowess. It rides on 17-inch steel wheels in LX trim and 17-inch alloy wheels in EX and EX-L trims.
There's room for up to five people in the CR-V. The cabin features high-grade materials and exceptional fit-and-finish. There's 35.7 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats up, but folding them brings the total luggage volume to 72.9 cubic feet.
A picnic table, which was included in earlier models, has been dropped. The optional navigation system includes voice-recognition software and a backup camera.
Under the Hood
The CR-V is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that turns out 166 horsepower and 161 pounds-feet of torque. It teams with a five-speed automatic transmission, and the CR-V is available with front-wheel drive or optional Real Time 4WD, which transfers more torque to the rear wheels when more traction is needed.
Antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor, active front head restraints, an electronic stability system, electronic brake-force distribution and a tire pressure monitoring system are among the CR-V's standard safety features.
The CR-V shines in handling. The steering is tightly sprung — move the wheel slightly and the CR-V reacts with an intuitive feel that's rare in non-luxury cars. The cabin is quiet, totally blocking out road and wind noise.
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