Several years ago, a friend loaned my wife and me a front-porch bench. It’s made of iron and wood and it’s heavy and awkward to carry. On a recent weekend, it was time to return the bench. Its owner, once a neighbor, now lives nearly 100 miles away. With remarkable ease, my wife reconfigured the back seat arrangement of the new-look, more spacious 2005 Honda CR-V, and the cargo area opened flat and cavernous.
The bench is five-feet long, but with a little twist here and a turn there it fit lengthwise. It was tight, but at 60 inches long it was secure in the back compartment, and the tailgate and rear window closed securely. Sport Utility Vehicles are designed for versatility, but transporting the cumbersome outdoor piece provided a nice example of the new CR-V’s ever-expanding uses.
The 200-mile round-trip, primarily freeway miles, also provided plenty of time to experience the vehicle’s all-wheel drive system. It’s called Real Time AWD, and it offers fine handling and traction. The roads were dry on our outbound trip and periodically wet on the return voyage. It didn’t make any difference. The drive was smooth and comfortable, further assisted by the new Vehicle Stability (Anti-Skid) System. In short, the CR-V maneuvers well and has a confident feel on the open road.
The CR-V has been top-rated for years, but in 2005 several new features only add to its designation as a best value in the compact sport utility vehicle class.
In addition to the aforementioned Vehicle Stability System, side curtain airbags, a 5-speed (not 4-speed) automatic transmission, antilock brakes, an increase from 15 to 16-inch wheels, a six-disc in-dash CD changer and steering wheel radio controls are all standard.
The 2005 CR-V also has a new body and trim style that includes a shorter, more blunt front end and a redesigned, more aerodynamic front bumper and grille. Headlights have also been redesigned. The SE model I drove for my weekly test also included leather upholstery, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and heated power mirrors – all new standard]]> features.
One potential issue: Despite its size, the CR-V has a standard 4-cylinder, 2.4-liter, 16-valve, 160-horsepower engine. Yet, the vehicle accelerates well, all things considered. Honda uses i-VTEC, a system that generates power to the engine while still utilizing fuel economy. The CR-V’s 22 mpg (city) and 27 mpg (freeway) mileage are good averages for the SUV class.
The CR-V has two unique features: the positions of the parking brake and the transmission shifting arm. The shifting mechanism is located on the instrument panel and is reminiscent of vehicles from yesteryear featuring “three on the tree” shifting. The parking brake is positioned vertically on the forward console panel. I forget to set the brake on a few occasions considering its unique location. But the location became more practical the more I drove the car.
Like all Hondas, instrumentation, gauges, storage compartments, cupholders, seat pockets, grab rails and clothing hooks are all smartly designed, well-positioned and plentiful on the new CR-V. The spare tire bin cover is also a folding picnic table.
There’s not much not to like about the new CR-V. It has an improved design and more standard features. The previous CR-V edition was already exceedingly popular. But Honda has done even better with the vehicle – even if it’s just used to lug around old outdoor furniture.
Safety Features — Dual-stage driver and front passenger dual-stage front, side and side curtain airbags. Antilock brakes.
Fuel Mileage (Estimates) — 22 mpg (city), 27 mpg (highway).
Warranty — Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36,000 miles; Power train, 3 years/36,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage.
Base Price — $25,050.00.