With its Japan debut in 1995, Honda CR-V paved way for a unique alternative to mainstream mid-size and full-size large SUVs. Unlike most SUVs, Honda CR-V brought people a different kind of ride – an SUV with a car-based design and sedanlike handling. It became an instant hit back then and still continues to improve today to meet the consumers’ ever-changing demands.
First generation, 1995 – 2001
Though the Honda CR-V was introduced in Japan in 1995, it was only in 1996 that it was revealed in the Chicago Auto Show. And it wasn’t available for sale in the US until February 1997. Honda CR-V’s first generation came with just one trim level, which was later known as the LX model trim. Similar with the outer dimensions of the Honda Integra’s engine, the Honda CR-V used a 2.0 L straight-four B20B engine. The difference, however, is that the CR-V’s engine had a larger 84 mm bore, giving extra displacement needed to produce more torque.
From 1999 to 2001, the Honda CR-V experienced minor updates. In response to the criticism that the standard engine was insufficient to support the CR-V’s weight, the engine was changed to the 2.0 L B20Z engine. This resulted in a higher compression ratio of 9.6:1 compared to the B20B’s 8.8:1.
Second generation, 2002 – 2006
Based on the seventh gen Honda Civic, the second gen Honda CR-V received a full redesign, which made it bigger and heavier. It was then powered by the K24A1 engine, offering users with a torque of 160hp and 162 lb/ft. To comply with SAE standards, the same engine was updated and was then rated at 156hp and 160 lb/ft. Even if the second gen experienced a power increase, it still managed to retain its fuel efficiency thanks in part to the engine’s i-VTEC system.
2002 and 2003 were glorious years for the 2nd gen CR-V as it was hailed Best Small SUV in Car and Driver magazine for those years. However, the updates in the 2002 to 2004 model years were very minimal, making the 2005 model year come out with a mid-cycle refresh. Aside from changes in the exterior design, the 2005 CR-V utilized a drive-by-wire throttle and a 5-speed automatic transmission. To conclude the second gen, the CR-V’s 2006 model year had minor upgrades, which made it slightly heavier than the previous models.
Third generation, 2007 – 2011
Powered by the latest version of Honda’s standard K-series 2.4 L inline-four engine, the third gen Honda could be driven with increased power, rated at 166hp at 5,800rpm and 161 lb/ft at 4,200rpm. The CR-V was redesigned for the 2007 model year, resulting in a lower, wider, and shorter CR-V, all for the benefit of a lowered center of gravity.
With its new look and performance, the 2007 CR-V became the runaway best-selling sport utility on the market, overcoming competitors such as RAV4, Tahoe, and Escape. By 2010, however, the third gen CR-V experienced only modest changes, including a redesigned front fascia and a slight increase in power.
Fourth generation, 2012 – present
Despite minimal hardware changes, the redesigned fourth gen CR-V boasted its sleek and sophisticated interior. It offered a more comfortable and quieter ride than the previous models, and retained its easy handling and steering features. Though the fourth gen’s power was a bit insufficient for driving on steep and rough roads, it still offered the refinement and performance enough for daily driving.