Honda has redesigned its popular CR-V crossover vehicle for model year 2007, with mixed results. While there is a lot to like, we had some concerns about what the Japanese automaker left off the latest edition.
We tested a front-wheel-drive 2007 CR-V EX with no options and a bottom line of $23,445.
HE: The new CR-V has lots more style than its boxy predecessor, but not everybody seems to like the looks. I'm glad Honda kept its compact dimensions, even after Toyota jacked up the size of the RAV4, so the two vehicles are no longer head-to-head rivals. While the RAV4 is now more of a minivan, the CR-V still looks and feels quite nimble, and is still true to its roots.
SHE: It's so funny you mention minivans, because the placement of the CR-V's shift lever on the instrument panel looks too minivan-ish to me. My take on the redesign of the CR-V is that Honda uglified it inside and out. I think the face is ugly, the inside door handles are cheap looking, and I just can't warm up to the whole package. Besides, they took away some of the coolest stuff, like the picnic table that used to fold out of the rear cargo area. Honda says too many people didn't use it. But I thought it made the old CR-V stand apart from the crowd. At the very least, they could have put some lighted vanity mirrors in it. To me, that's a must-have for any vehicle over $20,000.
HE: But look what Honda added. That rear parcel shelf provides more storage capability. And the 40/20/40 split rear seat gives families more flexibility. You can also order the CR-V in either front- or all-wheel drive, depending on your needs and how difficult it is to get in and out of your driveway in the winter. And the safety equipment is mighty impressive on a vehicle in this price class. Honda installs standard antilock brakes, side air bags, side curtains and stability control. That's pretty amazing.
SHE: The powertrain is a solid performer. The twin-cam 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine makes 166 horsepower and comes equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. I was a bit surprised by the five-speed when competitors like the Ford Edge are now offering six-speeds. We both noticed the engine is noisy at higher speeds. But the fuel economy is not bad, at 23 miles per gallon in city driving and 30 on the highway. I guess my other observation here is that the competition in the segment is pretty stiff, and I just wished Honda would have checked every box.
HE: I have a slightly different take. I happen to like the new exterior styling, although those thick rear pillars pose some visibility issues. Honda also wanted to extend the appeal of the CR-V to younger buyers, with little touches like the standard iPod jack.
SHE: There are some things I like about the CR-V. The double glove boxes are a great idea. The cabin trim is tasteful, with dark-metal touches, and the cloth upholstery is very attractive. But here's a question for you. Considering Honda's commitment to hybrids, with gas/electric versions of the Civic and the Accord, why can't you get a CR-V hybrid? If you're looking for a hybrid crossover, Ford offers the Escape and Mariner hybrids, but there's nothing from Honda.
HE: I'll admit the new CR-V, unlike some other Honda models, does not represent a huge leap forward, in terms of content or technology. But it is still a pleasant, competent little crossover, with a comfortable ride, agile handling, decent performance and terrific safety. For less than $24,000, that's a heck of a package.