These days it's nearly impossible to read a review of a vehicle without a reference to soaring energy costs and how conventional SUVs are suddenly such a bad idea. Though crossovers have been around for over 10 years in the US, the term itself has more recently become one of those buzzwords that appears far too often in marketing and PR materials.
Over the years, the CR-V has been characterized a number of ways, including "compact SUV", and "cute-ute". Perhaps it's all semantics, but for its third generation the CR-V has certainly morphed into something that seems to best fit the newly fashionable "crossover" moniker. The first generation (introduced in 1995 in Japan, and 1997 in the US) was based largely on Civic hardware and tried its best to look somewhat macho, though the small and narrow (by SUV standards) tires and spindly rear suspension and drivetrain hardware betrayed much of that intended image. The 2nd generation (2002-2006) CR-V benefited from a bit more of a modern look and a much needed infusion of torque, power, and refinement from its excellent 2.4L drivetrain. While the visage may have been beefed up a little bit, the 2nd generation CR-V still wasn't exactly geared towards heavy duty off road activities.
For 2007, it's as if the CR-V's designers have given up on any "offroad" pretenses, and have instead pursued a more upscale and refined, street-friendly look. This fits quite well with the target audience that they're gunning for with this CR-V, which happens to be the same audience that has been buying the most CR-V's of all: young moms.
That's right, Mom's always been and still is #1, and the new 2007 CR-V has been designed to attract more moms than ever before - particularly young, style-conscious moms. To snare this prey, Honda's chosen an "Advanced Emotional" design approach.
It all starts with the exterior, where the look is decidedly more upscale and refined. Hard edges and crisp angles have been replaced by smooth flowing lines and a pinched greenhouse which is intended to give the sporty appearance of a tapered roof. During the research phase, Honda polled current CR-V owners and found that the overwhelming majority of respondents thought the CR-V's size and packaging were nearly perfect, so dimensionally the 2007 CR-V is nearly identical to the outgoing version. The height has been trimmed by merely 0.1", the width has increased by 1.2", the wheelbase has been trimmed slightly (from 103.3" to 103.1") and the overall length of 177.9" represents a shrinkage of 3.7" (mostly due to the relocation of the spare tire from the tailgate to under the floor).
Inside the CR-V, the cabin has been bumped upscale as well, with more of a sedan-like ambiance. A few SUV-like traits remain, such as the vertically oriented dash layout (which works well) and a few other details that seem a little out of place (such as the wonky door pulls). Adding to the luxury feel are new available features such as Honda's excellent navigation system (with standard rear-view camera), leather seats, moonroof, trip computer, and a great sound system that provides MP3/WMA playback capability, available XM Radio reception, and even a jack for Mom's sleek 4GB Nano. Overall, the interior look works quite well - it's certainly taken a step forward in terms of comfort and refinement.
Worry not, for utility hasn't been sacrificed in the name of style. Indeed, with a 40/20/40 split folding rear seatback (though the lower seat cushions remain divided at 60/40), a dual level parcel shelf/cargo cover arrangement, and dual glove boxes, one could rightfully assert that the CR-V's utility has been further expanded. About the only thing that has been sacrificed was the CR-V's signature integrated picnic table, but how many people are actually going to miss it? Contrary to some early online rumors (where do these things get started?), the 2007 CR-V's cargo area has actually increased slightly, both with the seats up (+2.2 cu. ft.) and folded (+0.9 cu ft.). Overall interior volume is exactly the same as the 2006 CR-V's, so the initial rumor-fueled panic had no basis. And rear seat adjustments for rake and fore/aft position are retained.
Your Safety is Honda's Concern
Honda's focus on safety is evident in the newest CR-V. For crash protection and vehicle compatibility, Honda's ACE body structure has been engineered into the structure, as have a full complement of front, side, and side curtain airbags. Additional safety-oriented features include active front head restraints, side impact door beams, VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution), ABS, Daytime Running Lights, and Brake Assist. While ISOFIX/LATCH carseat anchor points have been available for a few years in the CR-V line, new for 2007 is the addition of a center mounted ISOFIX, providing more flexibilty for child carseat placement. Honda is one of the leaders when it comes to considering pedestrian safety, and the CR-V has been designed with this in mind. While pedestrians pretty much always lose when they take on vehicles, the CR-V attempts to mitigate the extent of injuries with energy absorbing headlights, hood, wiper pivot point, fender, and hood hinge structure.