Originally published November 14, 2012, updated December 24, 2015
Update by Justin Pritchard; original article by Chris Chase
High resale values and a continued reputation for no-nonsense, reliable performance have helped the last-generation Honda CR-V maintain a position as one of the most sought-after used crossover buys on the market today. With efficiency, flexibility and safety front and centre, the last complete CR-V generation is one of the most loved models in its segment.
Look for the surprisingly spacious five-seat crossover with features like heated leather, a sunroof, navigation, Bluetooth, automatic climate control and available Real Time four-wheel drive. A five-speed automatic was included on all models. Note that CR-V’s naming convention saw lower-end models wearing the LX badge, while EX, EX-L and EX-L Navi models filled the lineup.
Look for a 2.4L four-cylinder with 166 hp in earlier models, that figure climbing to 180 later in this generation’s life.
Here’s a closer look at some common problems and issues identified by the owner community, with some more detailed information that’s emerged in recent years. We’ll also advise some checks that should be considered mandatory ahead of purchasing a used CR-V from this generation.
Have a mechanic inspect the CR-V’s brakes, ensuring they have plenty of life left. While the vehicle is in the air, said mechanic can also check the underside for signs of damage or fluid leakage.
Some owners have complained of oil consumption, and the problem is well documented in the owner community. Some amount of oil consumption is considered normal on virtually every vehicle, though test-drivers are advised to check the CR-V’s oil level and condition, before purchase, continue monitoring it religiously afterwards, and ensure the seller was fond of frequent, high-quality oil changes.
Be double sure that the CR-V you’re considering tracks straight and smooth down the road, and question any ‘pulling’ or vibration felt through the steering, which could be evidence of a front-end steering or suspension issue, or a sign of a bad alignment. A mechanic can diagnose and repair any problems like these in short order.
Triple check for proper operation of the locks and door handles on all doors and the hatchback as well. Also, note that the air conditioning system should blow ice-cold air almost instantly after it’s engaged. If that’s not the case, a bad AC compressor is likely the culprit.
A light, metallic rattle coming from beneath the vehicle is typically caused by a rusty or loose catalytic converter heat shield, which some owners simply remove to stop the noise. If you detect a sound like this, be sure to confirm that’s the case.
Top of the line: Test Drive: 2011 Honda CR-V EX-L Navi
Ensure all fluid changes are up to date, and note that a whining noise during steering at low speeds could be caused by a worn-out power steering pump, or low power steering fluid level. If the fluid level is low, adding fluid will typically stop the noise. If the noise is present and the fluid level is normal, a new power steering pump may be in your future.
Ultimately, expensive driveline-related issues with the CR-V seem to be a non-issue in this generation. Problems are likely to be minor, and owners of a well-maintained used model can expect reliable operation – and a used crossover price premium in exchange for it.