2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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Vancouver, British Columbia – Honda’s “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle”, the CR-V, has always been a very car-like SUV – it was originally based on an enlarged Civic platform and featured a four-cylinder engine, independent suspension, unit body construction, front-drive based AWD system, roomy cabin, good fuel economy, and pleasant driving manners.

Now into its third generation, the 2007 CR-V has morphed into an even more car-like vehicle with a wider stance, improved handling and ride, and better fuel economy. Compared to last year’s CR-V, the 2007 model is wider by 37 mm (1.5 in.), shorter by 77 mm (3.0 in.), and lower by 2 mm (0.1 in.) with a wheelbase that’s shorter by 5 mm (0.2 in.).

The spare tire on the back has been repositioned under the cargo floor (a temporary spare accessible from inside the cargo area) just like in regular cars – and a new lift-up rear hatch door replaces the sideways-opening rear door. As well, the standard manual transmission has been dropped altogether – all CR-Vs now have a five-speed automatic transmission.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

In addition, base models are now offered with front-wheel drive, and there’s a new top-of-the-line EX-L Navi model with leather seats, navigation system, back-up camera, and premium audio system.
As before, the CR-V is only available with a four-cylinder engine – a V6 is not offered.

The CR-V’s new styling has proven controversial: though it has a wider stance and a more aerodynamic front end, the new grille and bumper design has been given a rough ride by critics. The curving rear side windows are also unusual for an SUV, and the standard steel wheels look a bit cheap.

Honda has taken some risks with their styling lately – think Civic and Element – and though I’m not that fond of the new CR-V’s styling, it’s been my experience that Honda’s styling tends to look better with age.


Pricing and standard features

2007 Honda CR-V’s are offered in LX FWD ($27,700), LX AWD ($29,700), EX ($32,600), EX-L ($34,600), and EX-L Navi ($37,400).

The CR-V EX, pictured above, gets standard alloy wheels as the key exterior difference between it and the LX model
The CR-V EX, pictured above, gets standard alloy wheels as the key exterior difference between it and the LX model; photo by Chris Chase. Click image to enlarge

Features on the base LX model are fairly extensive, including the five-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch tires, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS and electronic brake force distribution, stability and traction control, a tire pressure monitoring system, air conditioning, cloth seats, power door locks with keyless entry, power windows, tilt and telescopic wheel, CD/MP3/WMA stereo with auxiliary i-Pod jack, 40/20/40 fold-and-tumble rear seats, cruise control, fixed intermittent wipers, intermittent rear wiper, and heated power mirrors.

LX AWD models add Honda’s “Real-time 4WD” system that operates mostly in front-wheel drive and transfers torque to the rear wheels when wheel slip is detected in the front wheels.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

The CR-V EX adds alloy wheels, chrome grille inserts, power sunroof, privacy tinted glass, in-dash six-CD player and steering wheel-mounted controls, variable intermittent wipers, alarm, and dual-level rear cargo shelf.

The EX-L adds heated leather seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, body-coloured door handles and mirrors, and centre console. The EX-L Navi adds a navigation system, premium audio system with subwoofer and backup camera.

My test CR-V was a base LX AWD model – with Freight and A/C tax, it came to $31,305.


Interior impressions

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

My test car had an all black exterior and a dark interior highlighted by some graphite trim on the doors, centre stack and passenger dashboard, and some brighter trim around the shift lever. Personally, I wouldn’t choose this colour combination – it’s difficult to keep clean, inside and out – and it looks sombre.

Still, the CR-V’s standard seat material is an attractive woven cloth that looks very durable. With a standard height-adjustable driver’s seat and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, most CR-V drivers will be able to find a comfortable driving position. Both front seats include a folding inboard armrest which I found handy for resting my right arm while cruising down the freeway. The transmission shift lever is positioned very high up on the centre console, making it easy to reach.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

The driver has good visibility to the front, side and rear – the rear head restraints can be lowered almost flush with the top of the seats so as not to obstruct the driver’s rear vision, and that contoured rear side window seems well positioned for shoulder-checks when lane-changing.

The round speedometer and tachometer are easy to read, but the previous round fuel and coolant gauges have been replaced by horizontal digital readouts between the two gauges – probably as a space-saver. There’s also a horizontal real-time fuel consumption readout. Personally, I prefer the round gauges, but the new ones are back-lit and easy to see.

The centre stack includes a radio/CD/MP3/WMA player at the top, and an auxiliary music player jack just below it beside a small storage slot, presumably for the music player. Heating and air conditioning controls are a simple combination of rotary dials and pushbuttons within easy reach of the driver just above the shift lever. The A/C system includes Normal and Max A/C buttons.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

Above the glove-box and hidden behind the bright trim on the passenger side of the dash is a handy storage area which I used to store a small umbrella. Between the seats, is Honda’s flip-down storage tray with two cupholders, and almost out of sight at the bottom of the centre stack are two open storage bins and a 12-volt power outlet. However, out of all these, only the glove-box is big enough for storing CD cases.

Rear passengers sit a bit higher than front passengers, but there’s still plenty of headroom for adults and the raised front seat cushions provide generous rear footroom as well. The high rear seating position gives passengers improved forward visibility and the rear seatbacks do recline for comfort; but I found the rear seat cushions very firm – almost too firm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ride back there to see if it would be uncomfortable on a long trip.

The rear folding seatbacks are split in a 40/20/40 arrangement, allowing a variety of passenger and cargo configurations. The centre portion can be folded down between the rear seats to form an armrest with two built-in cupholders – however I couldn’t get the armrest to stay in a horizontal position.

The rear seats are the “flip and tumble” type – first the seatback is folded flat (without removing the head restraints), then the seat cushion and seatback are flipped forwards against the front seatback. This provides a generous 2064 litres (72.8 cu. ft.) of cargo space.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

One of the biggest changes to the CR-V for 2007 is the repositioning of the spare tire from the rear tailgate to underneath the cargo floor. Instead of a swing-out rear door, the 2007 CR-V now has a lift-up hatchback. For the most part, this is a positive move: the cargo area is larger than the previous CR-V – cargo area behind the rear seats has increased by 62 litres (2.2 cu. ft.) to 1011 litres (35.6 cu. ft.). – and despite the temporary spare tire under the floor, the liftover height is still very low. The lift-up hatch is large but not difficult to open, and provides temporary shelter from rain and snow when open – I prefer it to the previous sideways-opening tailgate. My only criticism is that the side walls in the cargo area are made of plastic which can be scratched easily by sliding cargo.

All CR-Vs come with front, side and curtain airbags, and Honda’s new ACE (Advance Compatability Engineering) body structure for improved crash protection. Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2007 CR-V a “Top Pick” with its ‘Good’ scores in offset frontal, side and rear crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it five stars in frontal and side crash tests.


Driving impressions

A slightly more powerful 166-hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine is the only engine available in the CR-V. Unlike major competitors like the Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Santa Fe, the CR-V doesn’t offer an optional V6 engine.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX. Click image to enlarge

Acceleration tests of a 2007 CR-V LX AWD conducted by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada showed a 0 to 100 km/h time of 10.3 seconds, while 80 to 120 km/h took 8.7 seconds. For comparison, a Hyundai Santa Fe GLS 3.3 V6 AWD recorded 9.0 seconds and 7.6 seconds respectively, while a 2007 Toyota RAV4 V6 Sport AWD took just 6.7 seconds and 5.7 seconds respectively.

Though it’s not really fair to compare the four-cylinder CR-V to its six-cylinder competitors, consider that the base Santa Fe 2.7 V6 is actually $1,700 cheaper than the base CR-V and the Santa Fe 3.3 V6 is only $600 more. Even the base Toyota RAV4 V6 (AWD) is only $2,000 more than a CR-V LX AWD with comparable standard features.

The lack of a V6 is a certainly a handicap for the CR-V, particularly now that you can no longer get a manual transmission, but whether you need a V6 depends on how you will use the CR-V. Will you be transporting burly hockey players and their gear to distant hockey games on a regular basis? Do you value performance over economy? In that case, you might want to get a RAV4 V6. But for typical urban and suburban commuting, the CR-V’s four-cylinder engine is good enough – and the bonus is excellent fuel economy for an SUV: FWD models offer 10.2 L/100 km (28 mpg) city; and 7.3 L/100 km (39 mpg) highway, while AWD models offer 10.7/7.8 city/hwy. That’s a slight improvement over last year’s CR-V.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
A centre console, complete with cupholders and small item storage, folds down and out of the way. Click image to enlarge

As I mentioned, a five-speed manual transmission is no longer available, but even when it was, only about 10 percent of CR-V buyers chose it. There’s no doubt that a manual transmission would improve the performance potential of this four-cylinder engine – perhaps a ‘manumatic’ would be a good compromise. Still, the CR-V’s standard five-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth, comfortable shifts, and its “grade-logic control” will automatically shift down a gear when descending a steep hill, and stay in fourth when ascending a slight grade. An electric on/off overdrive button on the shift handle also allows manual shifting from fifth to fourth.

The CR-V cruises very nicely on the freeway: at a steady 100 km/h, the engine turns over just 1900 rpm, and at 120 km/h, it does only 2,400 rpm. That goes a long way to explaining its great fuel economy and quiet highway manners.

With front-wheel drive, and stability and traction control, the base CR-V should provide sufficient winter traction and enough ground clearance for snow-covered streets, but if you live in an area that requires the extra traction of all-wheel drive, the extra $2,000 might be money well spent. The AWD system is completely automatic – there’s no button or levers to engage – and for the most part you won’t even notice its operation. Indeed, my test vehicle had no badges or lettering that indicated it had optional AWD.

With its wider stance, fully independent suspension (front MacPherson strut/rear multi-link) and standard 225/65R17 M+S all-season tires (Bridgestone Dueler HTs on my test vehicle), the new CR-V does handle better than the previous model with less lean in the corners and a greater feeling of stability and control.

2007 Honda CR-V LX
2007 Honda CR-V LX
A centre console, complete with cupholders and small item storage, folds down and out of the way. Click image to enlarge

The CR-V’s braking performance is very good. The average stopping distance in AJAC’s 100 km/h to 0 km/h braking test was 42.5 metres (139.4 ft.), a half metre longer than a RAV4 V6 in the same test, but 1.4 metres shorter than a Santa Fe GLS. Four wheel disc brakes with ABS and EBD are standard in the CR-V.

A few observations: I liked the fact that there is no front spoiler or low-hanging bumper to get caught up on curbs or snowbanks in the winter. And though there is less ground clearance this year, the CR-V’s minimum ground clearance of 185 mm (7.2 in.) is okay for non off-road use.

The CR-V’s wipers are the flat-blade type and the driver’s wiper is much longer than the passenger’s. Unfortunately, on a rainy day my wiper left a streak in the middle of the windshield, and despite attempts to clean the blade and remove any debris, the streak wouldn’t go away.

But these are small complaints. Whether the CR-V is the right runabout for you may depend on how fast you want to run about, whether you like the new styling, or whether you think it’s worth the money when compared with its competitors.

The base LX FWD model is probably the best value, if you can live with those wheels.


Verdict

With improved ride and handling, the 2007 CR-V is more ‘car-like’ than before, but not everybody likes the new styling, and if you want more power, you’ll have to look elsewhere.


Pricing: 2007 Honda CR-V LX AWD


Specifications

  • Click here for complete specifications


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Competitors

  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Toyota RAV4
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Ford Escape
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Kia Sportage
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Chevrolet Equinox
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Pontiac Torrent
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Saturn Vue
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Subaru Forester
  • Buyer’s Guide: 2007 Mitsubishi Outlander


Crash test results


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