First, a disclosure. We have owned a Honda before – a 1984 Accord sedan my wife bought before we were married. Of course, we’re also currently the owner of a Chevy, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Going into the experience with the CR-V I fully expected to like it. Honda fit and finish, materials, and overall quality are well known. The LX FWD model (no AWD version was available, but in everyday driving, the difference should not be noticeable) we test drove was largely as expected. The CR-V’s interior was, like the others, more utilitarian than luxurious, but comfortable and functional. The instrument panel and ancillary controls were the best of the lot so far.
The CR-V’s exterior is (subjectively speaking, of course) somewhat less appealing. The front-end treatment makes the small SUV appear to pout; the arc of the side windows and the roof line are at odds with each other, and the rear light cluster comes in second only to Volvo with a lighting scheme straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Driving the CR-V, however, was very pleasant (and once you’re inside, who cares what it looks like?). The controls were smooth, interior fit and finish very nice for the level of trim. The four-cylinder engine made its presence known, but was powerful without sounding overstressed or obnoxiously loud. The “drop-leaf” table between the two front seats seems initially like a neat feature, but it sacrifices console storage space. The overall impression of this contestant gives us no reason to vote it off the lot.
On to the Subaru Forester.