- Simple, attractive interior
- Fuel efficiency
- Smooth, refined powertrain
- Overall safety
- Exterior styling awkward to some
- Back pillar obscures rearward vision
- Transmission sometimes reluctant to downshift
The 2009 Honda CR-V is a clear winner for those seeking security and utility at a good price, provided hip styling or street cred isn't near the top of the list.
Completely redesigned for 2007, the Honda CR-V features a rather compact exterior paired with a very roomy interior design that makes the most of available space. Unlike the Pilot, the smaller 2009 Honda CR-V has only two rows of seating.
With its arcs and creases, the exterior styling of the 2009 Honda CR-V is a little fussy—or just plain weird—from some angles, but inside it's more universally attractive, with an instrument panel that's upright, if a bit trucklike, and nicely contrasting materials and brightwork. The backseat area of the 2009 Honda CR-V folds down to a completely flat loading floor and a cargo area that's quite expansive, thanks to the tall body. The hatch opens upward, rather than to the side. The shifter is located at the bottom of the dash, in the center, instead of on the steering column or between the front seats—so it feels more spacious in front.
While competitors offer available V-6 engines, a four-cylinder engine is the only one in the 2009 Honda CR-V, but the 166-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces adequate power and feels quite refined with the smooth-shifting five-speed automatic, although we find it reluctant to downshift for steep grades. Fuel efficiency is admirable; EPA highway estimates for the 2009 Honda CR-V range up to 27 mpg. An improved all-wheel-drive system is available, and it works with the stability control system to send power to the wheels where it's needed most. Handling feels stable but not very sporty; the emphasis is clearly on comfort and quiet.
Shoppers will be thrilled to hear that the 2009 Honda CR-V gets five-star ratings for frontal and side impact in the federal government's crash tests, as well as straight "good" ratings—the best—from the IIHS, which made the CR-V one of its 2009 Top Safety Picks. Safety features are a priority for frugal and pragmatic shoppers who might consider the Honda CR-V; it includes electronic stability control, front side airbags, and side curtain airbags as standard. Anti-lock brakes are also included.
The top-of-the-line EX-L adds many desirable features, such as dual-zone climate control, a power driver's seat, and a premium audio system; a navigation system and backup camera are optional.