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The Honda CR-V is a small crossover SUV manufactured by the Japanese company Honda since 1996. It was loosely derived from the Honda Civic to satisfy a public demand for a sport-utility vehicle from Honda. There are discrepancies as to what "CR-V" stands for, with Honda sources in different markets citing different meanings. Though Honda sales literature in UK reportedly makes references to "Compact Recreational Vehicle", other Honda references (including the official Honda Japan CR-V Fact Book and Honda Worldwide) cite "Comfortable Runabout Vehicle". It is produced in both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive, although in many markets such as the United Kingdom and Australia, only all-wheel drive is offered.

Honda produces the CR-V in the United Kingdom and Japan for worldwide markets, and as of 2007, North American CR-Vs are produced in East Liberty, Ohiomarker. The CR-V is produced for the Chinese market by the Dongfeng Honda Automobile Company, a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Corporation. Starting in fall 2007, North American CR-Vs will also be produced in Jaliscomarker, Mexico in addition to the US, Japan, and Britain due to high demand. Honda executives considered making the CR-V as one of the first vehicles to be produced at Honda's new facility currently finishing construction in Greensburg, Indianamarker that opened in fall 2008; however, the facility will initially exclusively produce the Civic, which may free up space in East Liberty for CR-V production from the 2009 model year onward. Elsewhere, the CR-V is Honda's smallest SUV other than the related Element sold in the United States and Canada, and the HR-V sold in Europe. In size, the CR-V slots between the Element and Pilot.


Introduced in Japan in 1996, the CR-V was Honda's first in-house designed SUV and was originally intended to be a niche vehicle only. Honda was hesitant to market the vehicle, since many felt the car did not have potential to sell alongside the Honda Passport and to take over the role of Honda's entry-level SUV. In the United States, it was displayed for the first time at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show. Citing strong sales from the comparable Toyota RAV4 upon its release, the model was then brought stateside in February 1997. The CR-V appeared around the same time as the Subaru Forester and a couple years after the JDM Nissan Rasheen.

First generation (1996–2001)

The original CR-V's production lasted from 1996 to 2001. Upon introduction, the model had only one trim level, which would later be known as the LX model trim; it was powered by the 2.0 L straight-4 B20B producing and of torque. Outer dimensions for this engine would be identical to the Integra's 1.8 L engine, but internally the engine had a larger 84 mm bore to add the extra displacement needed to produce more torque. The engine utilized a one-piece cylinder sleeve construction unique from any other B-series engine due to overlapping combustion chambers. The chassis was a unibody design with a 4-wheel double wishbone suspension. Inside, the rear seats were able to fold down, and a picnic table was stowed in the rear floor area. A common external trait that was visible with this generation was plastic cladding covering the front bumper, rear bumper, and fender wells. In most countries, CR-Vs had a chrome grille; however, in the USmarker, the grille was made out of the same black plastic as the bumpers. A major difference between the LX and EX trims was that the EX had anti-lock brakes and 15 inch alloy wheels while the LX did not. Drivetrain options were: front-wheel drive or Honda's Real Time 4WD.

Real time four wheel drive system

Honda's Real Time 4WD system on the CR-V utilizes a Dual hydraulic Pump Rear Differential and 4WD Transfer case. The dual pump rear differental operates the front wheels during normal conditions then automatically transfers power to the rear wheels when needed, without the driver engaging the system. To allow the ABS braking system to work when the CR-V is engaged in four-wheel drive operation, the 4WD will turn off if the brakes are applied.

Later Model CR-Vs equipped with automatic transmissions also have a lockup torque converter and Grade Logic program which aids the CR-V when climbing steep inclines by keeping the transmission in the lower gear. The 2007 and later Model 4WD system was improved and sends an additional 20% more torque to the rear tires than earlier models.

When driven off road, CR-Vs with the AWD System are typically used in the Green Laning or "Two-tracking" type of off roading.


Although the body style remained the same as the first generation, an update for the CR-V made from 1999 to 2001 was in response to criticism of the original engine lacking enough power for a vehicle of the CR-V's weight – . The engine was changed to the 2.0 L B20Z engine, producing at 6200 rpm and at 4500 rpm of torque. Fuel economy of City/ Highway (US) and price were not affected by the increase in power, which was the result of a higher compression ratio (9.6:1 compared to the B20B's 8.8:1), a new intake manifold, and slightly higher lift on the intake valves.

1999–2001 Honda CR-V (Australia; facelift)

Models equipped with an automatic transmission now had an overdrive cancel button that allowed the driver to lock the transmission in the first three gears to provide power for passing and climbing grades. The interior was also modified, as some consumers felt that the support provided by the seats was inadequate for longer trips. The pattern of the cloth on the seats was also redesigned.

The 1999 European, Australian, and Asian CR-V models featured more drastic changes. Exterior alterations included a new front bumper, smoothed off rear bumper, and a smaller plastic radio antenna on the rear of the roof. "Nighthawk Black" was added to the list of paint choices, while the unpopular "Passion Orange" disappeared. A new, deeper blue pearl and red pearl replaced their old metallic and enamel equivalents. European models received an enlarged Honda emblem on the front grille, and a new metallic yellow paint in certain countries.

In 2000, a Special Edition model was introduced in North America. The SE featured body-colored bumpers and side moldings, a body-colored hard spare tire cover, leather upholstery, CD/cassette audio deck, rear privacy glass, and chrome grille accent. Until 2001, the CR-V sold more than any other vehicle in its class. The North American models also received new exterior colors including Naples Gold Metallic and Taffeta White. Electron Blue was introduced in 2000 to replace Submarine Blue Pearl, while Satin Silver Metallic replaced Sebring Silver Metallic in 2001. However, that year, sales of the Ford Escape and its clone, the Mazda Tribute, surpassed those of the CR-V.

The Australian higher specification model was called the 'Sport' and included body coloured bumpers, mirrors, door handles, and hard rear spare wheel cover. It also included alloy wheels, roof rails, and a large glass sunroof. This variant was available for the entire span of the First Gen CR-V in Australia. The CR-V became the country's best-selling SUV in 2000, outselling the Toyota for the very first time.

Second generation (2002–2006)

The second generation CR-V was a full redesign, based on the seventh generation Civic, and powered by the K24A1 engine. North American versions of the new engine produced and of torque. Per new SAE regulations, the same engine is now rated at and . Despite the power increase, the new CR-V retained the fuel economy of the previous model, thanks in part to the engine's i-VTEC system. The newly developed chassis had increased torsional and bending rigidity, while the new suspension possessed front toe control link MacPherson struts and a rear reactive-link double wishbone; the compact rear suspension increased cargo space to . The second generation CR-V was Car and Driver magazine's Best Small SUV for 2002 and 2003. Second generation CR-Vs in countries outside of North America were again offered in both 'low specification' and 'high specification' variants, with the latter featuring body-colored bumpers and fittings. It also now did not require the glass hatch to be opened before the swinging door. Changes between model years 2002, 2003, and 2004 were very minor. Success of the Honda CR-V created an entry-level SUV for Honda, called the Element.

2005–2007 Honda CR-V Sport (Australia)
2005–2007 Honda CR-V Sport (Australia)


In 2005, the CR-V received a mid-cycle refresh. The 2005 CR-V was now equipped with 16 inch wheels, the earlier models had 15 inch wheels. Visual changes included new headlights and taillights. The new headlights now have two separate H1 bulbs for low beams and high beams, the previous setup used H4 single bulb for both low and high beams. The taillights now used clear lenses instead of amber for the turning indicators. The grille was also changed; it had 2 horizontal bars instead of one. The front bumper design was slightly changed, it now has round fog lights compared to the previous rectangle fog lights and in addition to the lower grill there are 2 horizontal bars instead of 1. The rear bumper reflectors were longer and narrower.

On the inside of the car, the EX trim received upgrades which included steering wheel-mounted audio controls and an outside temperature monitor. The stereo system was also XM Satellite Radio ready. All CR-V models also had revised rear seat headrests, which had been redesigned to reduce rear view blockage.

Mechanically, the 2005 model was also changed. A major change included a drive-by-wire throttle for all CR-Vs. The four-wheel drive system was improved; it had been tuned to activate faster in low traction situations.

In the United States and Canada, in accordance with Honda's Safety for Everyone campaign, all 2005 and later CR-V's have ABS, Electronic brake force distribution, front seat-mounted side airbags, and side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors for all outboard occupants. Also, Traction Control and Vehicle Stability Assist were added as standard equipment on all trim levels for increased rollover protection. CR-Vs in other countries such as Australia continued with only dual airbags and ABS as standard equipment. Side airbags were optional, while curtain airbags were unavailable.

In October-November 2005, Honda offered the CR-V Limited Edition which was previewed at the Australian International Motor Show, along with an Accord Limited Edition model, also on sale until November 2005. It was a base model, only available in black metallic, with optional extras such as alloy wheels, body-colored side molding and a number of other features.

Following the tradition of adding a trim level above the EX during the refresh like the first generation CR-V, Honda added the SE trim level for the 2005 CR-V. The CR-V SE had painted bumpers, body side molding, and spare tire cover. For a more luxurious experience, Honda added a leather interior, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated side mirrors and front seats. A new color, Pewter Pearl, could only be found on the SE. The SE also included a hard body-colored cover for the spare tire on the back.

For the 2006 model year, two new colors were added, Royal Blue Pearl and Alabaster Silver Metallic. These colors were available on the CR-V LX and EX only.

In China, a clone from Shuanghuan Auto, called the SR-V, became a center of a design rights controversy, due to the fact that the latter was alleged to be a blatant copy of Honda's.

Third generation (since 2007)

A redesigned CR-V was launched for the 2007 model year. The third generation CR-V is powered by the latest version of Honda's standard K-series 2.4 L 4-cylinder engine, similar variants of which can also be found in the current-generation Honda Accord and Honda Element. In North American markets, this engine's power is rated at at 5,800 rpm and at 4,200 rpm. A 2.2 L i-CTDI diesel engine is offered in the European and Asian markets. The European market CR-V offers a new R20A 2.0 L petrol engine, based on the Honda R-series i-VTEC SOHC engine found in the Honda Civic, as opposed to the previous CR-V offering the K20A. The manual transmission has been dropped from the US market, leaving the five speed automatic as the sole unit. Fuel economy ratings from the EPA are city, highway. Consumer Reports rates fuel economy as city, highway.

The 2007 CR-V features a rear liftgate, unlike previous models. There is no longer a spare wheel attached to the back door. The new CR-V is lower, wider, and shorter than the previous models; the length decrease is attributed mostly to the fact that the spare wheel no longer adds length to the back of the vehicle. A lowering of the center of gravity is another benefit of the spare wheel being located underneath the rear floor. A feature unique amongst SUVs is the center rear seat pass-through.

Honda is also offering an integrated Navigation option on the EX-L model. The navigation unit is made for Honda by Alpine and includes voice activated control, XM radio (in the USA), in dash CD player that can play MP3 and WMA media. It also has a six-disc CD changer in the center console and a PC Card (PCMCIA) slot in the Nav unit for flash memory MP3 or WMA files. A second CD player is behind the navigation screen, this CD player plays MP3/WMA cds. A rear backup camera is also included.

An iPod adapter was to be an available option on US models, but is currently only available as an add-on accessory. Even so, all CR-V models still have the auxiliary audio input jack, which is either on the head unit itself (LX) or on central tray (EX) or inside the center console (all versions of the EX-L, with or without navigation).

In the United States, the Honda CR-V became the number-one selling SUV in the US for 2007, a title previously held for fifteen years (1991–2006) by the Ford Explorer. To meet the high demand, Honda shifted some Civic production from East Liberty, Ohio to Alliston Plant #2, Ontario (where some Pilot, Ridgeline, and Odyssey production was located until production was consolidated at Honda's Lincoln, Alabama facility) to free up space for additional CR-V production. Currently, the East Liberty plant is building 400+ CR-Vs a day for the Canadian and US markets. US market CR-V models are imported primarily from Sayama, Saitama, Japan and El Salto, Jalisco, Mexico in increasing numbers.

Chassis code: RE1 (2WD), RE2 (4WD), RE3 (2WD), RE4 (4WD) RE5 (4WD), RE7 (4WD)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Crash Test Ratings

Frontal Impact:

Side Impact:


The Honda CR-V is rated GOOD in frontal and side-impact crash tests by the IIHS. However it is rated MARGINAL in the roof strength test.

2010 facelift

For the 2010 model year, the CR-V receives modest style, powertrain, and equipment changes. The exterior changes include a redesigned front fascia with a new horizontal-slat chrome grille and honeycomb-designed lower front grille, new front bumper, and revised taillights with amber turn-signals (red in pre-facelift models). The rear bumper is also redesigned, as well as new five split-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels for EX and EX-L models. The interior gains minor changes, such as improved seat fabrics, and wider driver & front-passenger armrests. The audio head unit controls are altered and the information display backlighting in the gauges is blue instead of the previous black. USB audio input is standard in the EX trim while hands-free Bluetooth connectivity is exclusive to the EX-L trim equipped with navigation system.

Horsepower is increased from 166 to 180 for 2010 and mileage is improved by 1 MPG for both front-wheel and all-wheel drive models. EPA ratings are now 21/28 MPG city/highway and 21/27 MPG city/highway respectively. Prices are increased between $300 and $900 depending on trim level. The 2010 model has gone on sale in the United States on September 10, 2009.

US sales

Calendar Year Total American sales
1999 120,754
2000 118,260
2001 118,313
2002 146,266
2003 143,909
2004 149,281
2005 150,219
2006 170,028
2007 219,160
2008 197,279


  1. Attack of the Clones: Chinese copies of the Honda CR-V

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