Pros: Rear legroom, cargo space, reclining rear seats, radio/CD changer, low engine noise, small turning radius.
Cons: Front leg/foot room, front seat armrests, road noise on rough roads, dull handling
Five days ago I finally picked up my (read: my wifes) Honda CR-V EX 2002. These five days were very hectic for me, so I got to drive the CR-V a lot (500 miles). I drove it on both highway and local roads, so I got to know the CR-V (I call it V) pretty well.
Here is the list of the things I liked/disliked about the V (I will go into details below).
I liked: Rear seat legroom, cargo space, reclining rear seats, cabin design, radio/CD changer, low engine noise, small turning radius.
I did not like: front leg/foot room, gear shifter placement, front seat armrests, road noise on rough roads, dull handling.
Why CR-V: For years I wanted to buy a 4X4, but have never had the real need for it. This year we moved to NJ and since we needed a new car anyway, we decided to look at SUVs. Since my wife is the primary user, we had to get something that she would like as well as something that is versatile enough for the whole family. We started looking at Honda Pilots, Toyota 4Runners, but all of them came out to more than we wanted to spend. Then we moved on to Subaru (which my wife said no to as soon as she looked at them appearance matters!), we looked at Nissan Xterra, but did not like the styling either, plus it was too much like a real truck. The Korean cars never made it to our list. So we narrowed it down to RAV4 by Toyota and Honda CR-V. Since the dealer we went to had both, Honda and Toyota, I asked to test drive both. First was the RAV4. As soon as I stepped on the gas, I knew RAV4 was out of the question. I felt like getting out of the car and pushing it it has NO power (I dont mean to offend any of the RAV4 owners out there). Then we went to test drive the CR-V. The CR-V lived up to our expectations, so we bought it.
Now for the details. The exterior of the V is rather simple, yet it combines the modern look with the rugged appearance. We chose silver color, so it looks nice with black bottom. All of the CR-V models in silver come with black interior. The interior plastics are all of very decent quality with a hint of a sporty look (some surfaces are perforated). The material on the seats could be better, but I think the material is still better than Toyota uses even on their luxury Avalon. The V has ample storage compartments all over the car (I was particularly impressed with the slide-out drawer underneath the passenger seat). The windows are large and, combined with a fairly high seating position give you a good view of the road. The rear windows roll down completely, and that is great for the scenic drives, etc. The instrument panel provides all the information you need. The lighting of the instrument panel is adequate and easy on the eyes. I do not like that the gear shifter is placed on the upper right of the dashboard, not on the steering column or between the front seats (like most of the cars). It also takes a while to get adjusted to the awkwardly placed sunroof button it is to the lower left of the steering column. The radio/tape/CD changer are well paired with 6 speaker system that comes standard on the EX model (I am not sure of LX) The climate control is easy to use and very intuitive once you get used to the three knob design. I could use more of a leg/foot room in the front, although most people would probably have adequate space (I am 6 240 lbs and wear size 13 shoes). The room in the back is impressive(!) Combined with the reclining rear seats, it makes you more than comfortable if you seat in the back. The front seats have folding armrests attached to them. I found the armrests to be rather dysfunctional as they are short and narrow. The seats are supportive, although I would like them to be more adjustable (8-way would be nice).
Driving: Like I mentioned before, the V is significantly more powerful than the RAV4. The acceleration is smooth, although I would like a bit more power. After the first 20 mph, the acceleration gets better. Once I got the V to a 95 mph mark (Ok I was speeding, but it was just so I can write the full review ;-) ). The V took on the 95 mph fairly easily and I think it could go well above that with no problem. The engine noise What engine noise? The engine noise is rather low and most of the times you do not hear it. Couple of times I was going over the rough surface roads and I did not like that Vs tires became really noisy. The noise level was fine on the regular roads. The handling of the V is precise, although it handles more like SUV than a car. Coming into a turn, you feel that the center of gravity of the car is pretty high, thus subconsciously you decrease your speed. Making a U-turn is a pleasure though. The V turns around on a dime. The turn radius is so small, that I think you would rarely turn the wheels all the way to either side. Braking is adequate, and I like the fact that both the front and the rear have disc brakes. Thanks to the Real-time four wheel drive, you are not afraid of spinning your tires coming off the traffic light in rainy weather (I cant wait till we get the first snowstorm).
And finally, the words of wisdom: do not expect your dealer to be pushing the CR-V, they are selling like hotcakes, which makes the price negotiation pretty hard.