2007 Honda CR-V: An Original, Renewed
Back in 1995 and 1996, Honda and Toyota were at the forefront of what is now considered by many as the crossover segment. Since then, Toyota has launched three versions of the RAV4, and Honda is not far behind with their third-generation CR-V for 2007 model year. Where Toyota chose to grow RAV4 enough for a small third row and added an optional V6, Honda has stayed close to the second-generation’s overall size.
The “official” auto show introduction is at the Paris show in September/October, around the time sales begin in the States. Honda has released initial information, and even has a site where you can sign up for updates. Here are first impressions from VehicleVoice and contributors from AutoPacific, though we haven’t yet driven the vehicle Honda hints you will CRAVE.
Buyer’s Market for Compact SUVs
It is a good year if you’re in the market for a compact SUV. Along with the CR-V, new and updated entries include the Hyundai Santa Fe, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Suzuki SX4. (Click for VehicleVoice drive reviews of Compass, Outlander, and Santa Fe.) Beyond all-new products, the segment is full of vehicles with recent minor or major updates. Compact SUVs are less thirsty, but have enough utility to haul a significant amount of stuff. Further sweetening the pot, safety and convenience features from more expensive segments are popping up here, too.
CR-V III Stays the Course, But Improves the Ride
Having started with a successful package, Honda refines the CR-V. It carries over its 2.4L DOHC 16v I4 engine, though tweaked for an extra 10HP over last year (now 166HP). Though the missing manual will hardly be noticed, CR-V now only gets a five-speed automatic transmission.
The CR-V wears a stylish, modern face and sophisticated silhouette. CR-V retained vertical taillights and relocated the spare tire, allowing the move to a top-hinged instead of a side-hinged tailgate. Styling is more successful than its sibling Acura RDX, though it is easy to tell the more expensive RDX from the plebian CR-V. The RDX, in terms of brand, power, amenities, and price, competes in a premium segment and not directly against the CR-V.
Though the overall look is well done, there are some grumbles from VehicleVoice contributor Jim Hall, who has seen the vehicle in the tin. The hexagonal shape surrounding the license plate holder in the tailgate just doesn’t relate to any other design element. And while Hall gave high marks to the front, the rear roofline made him think of the Chrysler Pacifica. Given Pacifica’s tough sales go, this may not be the strongest image to emulate.
Speaking of plebian CR-Vs, Honda continues to give base EX model steel wheels along with its black grille, side mirrors, and license-plate garnish. Even though they are seventeens instead of sixteens, the base CR-V looks like a cheaped-out model. This is an area the guys at the Chrysler Group have done very well of late, creating base versions of everything from Dodge Charger to Caliber to Chrysler 300 to Jeep Commander that look good in their own right.
The new CR-V still carries five people, though it gains about an inch in width. Moving the spare tire shrunk the CR-V’s overall length by about three inches, but those were not usable inches and interior room is not affected overmuch. The new body structure is further optimized for pedestrian impact protection and for front collision compatibility and energy management, and Honda expects to hold onto its five-star safety rating from NHTSA.
The interior is well done, according to Hall. The automatic transmission lever is still in the instrument panel, but moved to the center instead of uncomfortably stuck between the gauge cluster and center stack. The new three-spoke steering wheel is similar to the one in the Civic Si, though CR-V sticks with traditional gauge locations. HVAC vents are now above the radio and center-stack controls, able to push air into the cabin instead of directly onto the driver’s hand.
Well Equipped at Any Level
Vehicle stability assist continues on the standard safety list and the ABS system is updated to four-channels and adds brake assist as well as brake-force distribution. Relating to federal safety standards for 2007MY, CR-V gets a standard tire-pressure-monitoring system. The previous CR-V offered standard side, curtain, and front airbags, a practice that continues.
Though not clear by the look, even the base CR-V is well equipped. All still get standard a/c, cruise control, and power windows and door locks, and power folding mirrors. CD players now play back MP3 files and an auxiliary jack is standard; uplevel models add a six-CD in-dash changer and more speakers. The EX-L can be ordered with options like Honda’s latest touch-screen satellite navigation with an optional rear-view parking camera. (The Outlander is the only other Compact SUV to offer optional navigation for 2007.) The EX-L includes a leather interior with heated front seats, a first for CR-V, as well as leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Both EX and LX get black side-view mirror housings and door handles, instead of body color. Only the EX-L gets body-color (and heated) side-view mirrors.