From the mid-Eighties through the early-Nineties Honda sold an ugly lump of a Civic wagon that was bought in tiny numbers but was about as practical a machine that’s ever been marketed. It was tall, it was roomy, it got great fuel economy and it was available with Honda’s “Real Time” four-wheel drive system. But it was just so shaved-bulldog-butt homely.
The first ’97 CR-V was as much a successor to that misbegotten Civic wagon as a response to the challenge of Toyota’s ’96 RAV4. As such it brought a new level of practicality to the twerp SUV class and thoroughly conventional styling as far away from the Civic wagon’s as possible. Honda has sold a bazillion of them and if anything is clear about the all-new 2002 CR-V, it is that Honda wasn’t about to screw-up a winning formula. But since ’97 the CR-V’s class has grown increasingly crowded with competitors from virtually every manufacturer. Can a better CR-V expand the proven formula to compete in this jam-packed market?
2002 Honda CR-VEnlarge Photo
Cue dramatic music. Heavy on the timpani please.
Familiar parts, familiar idea
The ’02 CR-V rides atop Honda’s current “Global Small Car Platform” and is, after the 2001 Civic and new Acura RSX, the third vehicle of that family to make it to North America (the fourth member of the family, the Stream minivan, won’t be sold in America). How global is this platform? While all initial 2002 CR-V production will come out of Japan, around mid-year up to half will be imported from a Honda plant in Britain. And despite being made in Japan and Britain, the CR-V’s biggest market will continue to be the U.S.