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2007 Honda CR-V LX Road Test
LONG-TERM TEST DRIVE

Craving the CR-V

By Bill Roebuck

[See Bill Roebuck's March 2011 update at the end of this review]

2007 Honda CR-V (these are not the base models, as indicated by the nice wheels, not standard in the base LX trim.After a few weeks driving a 2007 Honda CR-V, which has been newly redesigned for this model year, I can say it's a vehicle I'm happy to have in my driveway.

First off, I really like the new, sleeker design.

This tester is an LX -- the base model. There's no fancy leather, no navigation system, no all-wheel drive. In fact, the '07 is first CR-V that you've been able to get without all-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive version allows Honda to offer this compact SUV at a very reasonable $27,700.

By the way, I spent a small amount of time driving a 2007 CR-V equipped with RealTime 4WD. It automatically kicks in from front-wheel drive to four-wheel drive when the system detects wheel slip, but as far as I could tell, the ride and handling were the same as the 2WD model. However, this review deals only with the 2WD LX model.

For your money you get a perfectly adequate 2.4-litre four-cylinder, 166-hp engine mounted to a very smooth five-speed automatic transmission.

Overall, the ride is quite and smooth. It's like driving a sedan such as a Honda Accord, except you're sitting taller in the saddle.

2007 Honda CR-V LX interior.The CR-V gets high marks for interior comfort and space. It easily accommodates five passengers. Also, the fit and finish are beyond reproach. There's not a squeak or rattle to be heard anywhere.

The ride height makes it easy to get in and out, provides enough headroom for the tallest of drivers, and makes for a large cargo space (1,011 litres behind the second row, 2,064 litres with the second row seats folded).

Even so, the CR-V is still a compact on the outside, making it easy to manoeuvre and park.

Even in this LX base model, the seats are easy to adjust using the manual controls. I find the front seats to be very accommodating, even on long drives. Some long-legged drivers might wish the seats would slide back another inch or two, however.

The rear seats also slide back and forth, split 60/40, and fold down easily, without the need to remove the headrests. They also tumble forward out of the way for even more cargo space. They can't be removed completely, however.

NEGATIVES

I have only a few small complaints to make about the CR-V. These include reduced visibility at intersections from the thick A pillar between the windshield and the passenger -side door. The same goes for the wide D pillar in the rear right quarter. However, a little leaning forward or backward usually lets you see what might be hidden from view.

Another is the very light steering feel, especially at low speeds. While it makes for easy one-fingered parking, I'd prefer more response from the road. The lightness is not as noticeable at highway speeds, where the handling is firmer and quite stable.

I'm happy with all the controls and displays save for the dinky volume dial on the radio. It's too small to adjust with gloved hands.

Honda's reputation for excellent reliability was marred at the 8,500-km mark, though, when the passenger-side window ceased operating (luckily in the closed position). The repair was covered under the Honda's three-year, 60,000 km warranty, but the dealer had to order a part so the vehicle had to be kept in the shop overnight.

2007 Honda CR-V LX features a fuel economy guage as well asa Maintenance Minder to advise when oil changes are needed.The only other complaint I have had about the CR-V is its lower-than-expected fuel economy. Overall, among all vehicles and within its class, it is quite fuel-efficient. However, the SUV's internal trip computer calculates an average fuel economy of 11.6 L/100 km (25 mpg), a fair bit less than the federal government's EnerGuide rating of 10.2/7.3 L/100 km city/highway for a combined average of 8.9 L/100 km (32.7 mpg). The tester has been getting what I assume to be an average real-world mix of city and highway driving.

By comparison, AWD models are rated to be slightly less fuel-efficient, at 10.7/7.8 L/100 km city/highway and a combined average of 9.4 L/100 km or 30.1 mpg, but I don't have any real-world figures for that model. I've been told the fuel economy can be expected to improve after the first oil change, which won't be needed until about 16,000 km, according to the display on the built-in Maintenance Minder system.

The mileage ratings wouldn't be a deal-breaker as competitive models may face the same characteristic.

SAFETY FEATURES

One of the things I really appreciate about the 2007 Honda CR-V LX is its long list of safety features, even though it's the base model I'm driving. I tend to recommend vehicles that have a high level of safety gear as standard equipment and prefer to see that over almost any other feature.

First off, the CR-V has six air bags. This includes dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System and side curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. Also, the front seats feature active head restraints that move forward and up during a rear impact to help prevent neck injuries.

Four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) are standard, as is electronic brake distribution. I've noticed the brakes have a solid, firm feel. There's also a tire pressure monitoring system, although I've not yet seen a signal from it.

Other safety features include Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which is designed to absorb impacts of vehicles of various sizes in the event of front-end collisions.

Another useful attribute is Vehicle Stability Assist to help control oversteer or understeer.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has recognized the Honda CR-V as a 2007 'Top Safety Pick'. The model includes features a driver may never see in action, but if I ever faced an impending accident, I'd be glad to have them.

AMENITIES

2007 Honda CR-V LX at Oakville's Navy Pier at dawn.As you get to know a vehicle, you come to appreciate certain characteristics you didn't notice when you first began to drive it, as is my experience with the 2007 Honda CR-V LX.

One surprise is the ease of operation of the flip-up rear door. The struts assist in gently raising and lowering it, so you can use a light touch of one hand. Very nice.

Another is the air filtration built into the air conditioning system. It's one of those things that's not obvious, but weekend drives past freshly fertilized farmer's fields likely would have exposed me to some unpleasant odours if the CR-V didn't have it.

I've also come to appreciate the nice sound quality of the Honda's base radio. It's a four-speaker, 160-watt system with MP3/WMA compatibility and an MP3/auxiliary input jack, and sounds great.

A fold-down convex mirror in the sunglasses holder in the ceiling makes conversations with rear passengers easier. The instrument panel includes a dual trip computer with distance-to-empty display, a feature I use often.

Other nice touches are upper and lower glove compartments, a storage tray under the driver's seat,  and a handy Maintenance Minder system.

Such extras are a nice surprise in a base model and uncommon on base models from other makes.

Without a doubt, the CR-V is a well-made and well-designed vehicle. It has pretty much every safety feature you could ask for, it's fun and easy to drive, and its compact size makes it nimble and easy to park. Plus it has comfortable seats, well-designed controls, and is spacious enough for five passengers and a good amount of cargo.

What's missing? It could do with more power -- as long as that didn't diminish the mildly disappointing fuel economy. And the base CR-V certainly could use some prettier wheels -- the stock ones are about the ugliest design going.

This crossover-style SUV has proven to be a worthy contender in this crowded segment of the automotive market. All-in-all, I'd rate the CR-V a good buy.

Bill Roebuck is the editor and senior reviewer for CarTest! Posted July 11, 2007.

Update: 2011

2011 Honda CRV EXL. Interestingly, Honda doesn't put model badges on its CR-Vs, so from the outside you can't really tell a top-of-the line EXL from a base LX. Nice, if you bought the cheap one!After coming to the end of our lease on our own 2007 CR-V (yes, back in 2007 my wife and I liked it so much we leased one), we went shopping again and evaluated several contenders to the CR-V. Long story short: We acquired a new 2011 CR-V LX. Boring choice? Yes, it is, to get the same car again (different colour though), but it fitted our needs, its list price was $1,500 less than the previous model, the lease rate was half what we were paying before.

2011 Honda CR-V EX-L interior view. This model has the Navigation option.Honda got rid of the ugly steel wheels and now fits nice alloy rims on even its base model, and window tinting is now included at no charge. Also, the engine got a slight boost in horsepower. Not much else changed, though.

Interestingly, Honda doesn't put model badges on its CR-Vs, so from the outside you can't really tell a top-of-the line EXL from a base LX. Nice, if you bought the cheap one!

The bottom line in our decision came down to it being comfortable and easy to drive, plus its bulletproof reliability. As before, I still believe it's a good buy. And yup, we still craved it.

Update by Bill Roebuck posted March 3, 2011.


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