When most people think of a Honda SUV, they picture the CR-V. The first generation of the Honda CR-V arrived in 1995 and remains one of the top compact crossover SUVs in the world. The CR-V shares a platform with the Honda Civic but has an SUV body. In the current lineup, the CR-V is the middle option for Honda SUVs, sitting between the HR-V and the Pilot. To get a better feel for the auto’s place in the Honda lineup, take a look at its history.
The 1995 Honda CR-V arrived as a replacement for the Civic Shuttle 4WD, which was a light off-road vehicle. The design was actually finalized in 1993, and the model debuted in Japan in 1995. The CR-V shared the Civic platform but was clearly unique. Its real-time AWD system was more advanced than what’s on the Civic Shuttle. The first CR-V had a double wishbone suspension and a 2.0-liter engine with 126 horsepower. It arrived in North America during the 1996 Chicago Auto Show, going on sale the following February.
In 2002, the second generation of the Honda CR-V arrived with a complete redesign, but still based on the Civic, now in its seventh generation. The North American models had 160 horsepower from the K24A1 engine but with the same fuel economy thanks to Honda’s i-VTEC system. The chassis was also improved, featuring increased bending and torsional rigidity. The suspension also got MacPherson struts plus a rear reactive-link double wishbone. This generation also saw an increase in cargo space up to 72 cubic feet thanks to the changes to the suspension.
There was a mid-cycle refresh in 2005, including new headlights and taillights, an updated grille, and longer and narrower rear bumper reflectors. This update also included mechanical enhancements, including a drive-by-wire throttle across the lineup and improvements to the all-wheel-drive system.
The third generation of the Honda CR-V arrived for the 2007 model year. An instantly noticeable change was the use of a rear liftgate instead of the previous versions’ side-opening rear door, plus the lack of spare tire mounted on the rear. This generation used the 2.4-liter four-cylinder from the K-series for 166 horsepower. There was a facelift for 2010, including updates to equipment, the powertrain, and styling. On the front fascia alone, a honey-comb-designed lower front grille and a horizontal-slat chrome grille were introduced. Inside, there were new seat fabrics, wider front armrests, and even new audio controls. This model year also saw more tech as standard, including a USB input for the EX-L.
The fourth generation arrived with the CR-V Concept during the 2011 Orange County International Auto Show, debuting for the 2012 model year. Its 2.4-liter i-VTEC four-cylinder produced 185 horsepower, and this generation got an all-new Real-Time AWD system that featured an intelligent control system. The 2015 model year got a facelift, introducing the CVT to the CR-V lineup to improve fuel economy. This refresh also included structural improvements that enhanced CR-V safety. The current fifth generation arrived for the 2017 model year.