2009 Honda CR-V

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Key Specs

of the 2009 Honda CR‑V. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • High-quality interior
  • Quiet ride
  • Smooth transmission
  • Value for the money

The Bad

  • Base model seat fabric
  • No V-6 engine offered
  • Folding design of backseat

Notable Features of the 2009 Honda CR-V

  • Standard stability system
  • Optional navigation system with backup camera
  • Improved handling
  • FWD or AWD

2009 Honda CR-V Road Test

Joe Wiesenfelder

Now in its 12th model year, the Honda CR-V remains one of the best-selling compact SUVs on the market, ahead of veterans like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. As of Dec. 1, it was 2008's best-selling SUV and No. 10 in overall sales behind three full-size pickups and six cars. Not bad for an SUV in a year marked by a flagging market and high fuel prices.

The auto market doesn't lie. The best products reveal themselves through sales numbers. However, sometimes the market can be slow to catch on, so we revisit the leaders as the landscape changes. The CR-V was redesigned for 2007, and though it's well-rounded and deserving of its success, a couple of shortcomings are evident.

 

Handling the Ride
The Honda CR-V's ride quality was the first thing I noticed when I hit the road in a 2009 model. It felt rougher than that of other popular car-based SUVs. As a reviewer, I'm careful not to jump to conclusions; road surfaces vary, and something like a washboard surface can make one test vehicle seem worse than another solely because of a difference in wheelbases. But I gave the CR-V a week's workout and drove it back-to-back with two 2009 competitors, a Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, and I'll go so far as to say its firm ride is this Hondas distinguishing characteristic.


Specifically, it doesn't isolate you a lot from the road. You know when the surface is uneven, and that includes when it's only slightly uneven. This isn't about the car's ability to absorb a big shock. I ...

Now in its 12th model year, the Honda CR-V remains one of the best-selling compact SUVs on the market, ahead of veterans like the Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. As of Dec. 1, it was 2008's best-selling SUV and No. 10 in overall sales behind three full-size pickups and six cars. Not bad for an SUV in a year marked by a flagging market and high fuel prices.

The auto market doesn't lie. The best products reveal themselves through sales numbers. However, sometimes the market can be slow to catch on, so we revisit the leaders as the landscape changes. The CR-V was redesigned for 2007, and though it's well-rounded and deserving of its success, a couple of shortcomings are evident.

 

Handling the Ride
The Honda CR-V's ride quality was the first thing I noticed when I hit the road in a 2009 model. It felt rougher than that of other popular car-based SUVs. As a reviewer, I'm careful not to jump to conclusions; road surfaces vary, and something like a washboard surface can make one test vehicle seem worse than another solely because of a difference in wheelbases. But I gave the CR-V a week's workout and drove it back-to-back with two 2009 competitors, a Ford Escape and Subaru Forester, and I'll go so far as to say its firm ride is this Hondas distinguishing characteristic.


Specifically, it doesn't isolate you a lot from the road. You know when the surface is uneven, and that includes when it's only slightly uneven. This isn't about the car's ability to absorb a big shock. I hit some major potholes, and it soaked them up quickly and well, with no dramatic aftereffects. But in the course of just driving along, there's simply a lot going on; the body is on the move. Both of the other models do a better job of hiding road imperfections, with the Escape as a clear leader. It might give up a little in terms of handling and body roll, but I think it's a much better compromise.

The 
Honda CR-V also pitches in a way the other two don't: The nose and tail tend to rise and fall in opposition to each other, setting up a rocking motion. This isn't a matter of dive or squat, which can happen in some cars when you brake or accelerate hard. In my test car it happened not when tapping the the brakes, but when cruising along over roads that weren't especially bad. Note that both of the models to which I compared the Honda were redesigned for 2009, which underscores why we took a fresh look at the CR-V. This Honda is available in three trim levels: Honda CR-V LX, Honda CR-V EX, and EX-L, and are only available with a five-speed automatic transmission. Leather seats are standard on the EX-L, and all-wheel-drive is an available option on all trim levels.

Acceleration
Typical of four-cylinder compact SUVs, this  Honda is no rocket. You'll do 0-60 mph in around 10 seconds. Our all-wheel test vehicle felt adequately powered, but compared to competing models of similar weight, its torque rating is a little lean. This means you need to goose the pedal and raise the engine speed to get to the power zone. When the rpm get high, the engine gets loud but remains smooth. In normal driving, it's admirably quiet. The opposite would be the Escape, which drones under normal conditions and sounds a little rough.


In general, Honda's approach is a good one: modest power and high efficiency at low rpm, and more guts up high when you need them. Unfortunately, the resulting mileage isn't what I'd expect. Taking a look at the most efficient comparable models (equipped with automatic transmissions and front-wheel drive, where offered), the CR-V's combined city/highway mileage is in line with the Escape and the 2.4-liter Jeep Patriot, at 23 mpg. It's ahead of the Saturn Vue, Mitsubishi Outlander, Subaru Forester and Hyundai Tucson (all 22 mpg) as well as the Suzuki Grand Vitara (rating of 21 mpg) and Chevy Equinox (rating of 20 mpg with its six-cylinder engine; no four-cylinder is available).

The 
Honda CR-V trails the 2.0-liter Jeep Patriot, Nissan Rogue and Toyota RAV4, all of which has a rating of 24 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Rated at 22 mpg combined, the CR-V with all-wheel drive compares more favorably, tying or beating all but the Rogue AWD and RAV4 4x4. If mileage doesn't concern you, several other compact front-wheel or all-wheel SUVs offer larger or turbocharged engines for quicker acceleration, at a price.

The Inside
The CR-V's interior improved markedly with its 2007 redesign, but even back then I found the materials to be of inconsistent quality. The surfaces are soft where they need to be, and the gloss level is nice and low, but I think the metallic-look trim appears cheap. In particular, the door handles are shiny and plasticky. Once again, models redesigned or introduced in the past couple years had an opportunity to leapfrog the Honda CR-V — and they did. The Vue and Volkswagen Tiguan are examples. They're more expensive, but the CR-V isn't the most affordable in the field either.


I find the RAV4's front seats a bit uncomfortable due to a short bottom cushion. On its own merit, the CR-V's driver's seat is more comfy, but there were times I wished it would cushion me more, because the suspension clearly doesn't. I was also baffled by the center armrests — one on the inboard side of each front seat. They angle too sharply upward and aren't adjustable. They're either down or up, and if you recline the backrest much they reach for the sky like a mortar tube.

The 
Honda CR-V's interior dimensions are comparable to its competitors. The backseat is reasonably roomy, thanks in part to its ability to slide forward and back. While this feature is most useful in an SUV with three rows of seats, here it lets you choose where the extra space goes: to the backseat passengers or the cargo area. (In the compact SUV body-type class, the RAV4 and Outlander offer seven seats ... if you can count their third rows as seats.) The backseat's bottom cushion is split 60/40, but the backrest is split 40/20/40, with each segment independently adjustable — a rare feature.

Cargo
The three-way-split backrest also grants more cargo flexibility because you can fold the center down to create a pass-thru flanked by passengers. Most backrests fold in 60/40 segments. Less agreeable is the way the folding seats operate: When the backrests are lowered, they're still way taller than the cargo floor. You can pull a strap at the rear and tumble them forward 90 degrees, which helps, but it isn't what most people prefer. A backrest that folds flat with the cargo floor in one step is ideal. The forward-and-back adjustment, reclining backrests and nested head restraints are progressive features, which is why the old-school tumble seems, well, regressive in a five-seat SUV.

CR-V in the Market
People often ask what makes a particular model worth the sales price. The answer couldn't be simpler: a buyer willing to pay that price. While the Honda CR-V isn't a price leader in the compact-SUV class, buyers are more than willing to pay, making it the best-selling SUV in this troubled market. There's much to recommend it, including an exemplary reliability history and crash-test results second only to the VW Tiguan, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The wisest shoppers will always survey the whole field, though, and see what has come along recently. They'll also scrutinize the ride quality; it's something you simply can't change after you buy.

Send Joe an email  

 


Latest 2009 CR-V Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.4)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.4)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Awesome car!

by Grandma Sue from Glendale, WI on July 10, 2018

I absolutely love my CRV. It's comfortable and has plenty of get up and go. Its back seat is roomy enough for a couple of tall grandsons The interior design is so well thought out, with room for my ... Read full review

(4.0)

Secure and comfortable feeling

by Mr. Henry K from Chicago on June 3, 2018

Test drove three of these with AWD and all 2009 model year. visibility very good, good sure stopping, not the fastest or quietest but it's not high speed performance or a luxury SUV. Two of the three ... Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2009 Honda CR-V currently has 8 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2009 Honda CR-V LX

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
good
Structure/safety cage
good

Other

Roof Strength
marginal

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
acceptable
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Honda

Program Benefits

Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    1-year/12,000-mile non-powertrain warranty begins after expiration of original warranty (3 years/36,000 miles) or on date sold as certified (no deductible); 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty begins from the original in-service date (no deductible)
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 182 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The CR-V received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker