The 2008 Honda CR-V suffers with performance that’s four-cylinder drab, though handling is a brighter spot.
Despite offering only a four-cylinder engine while some of the competition offers V-6 options, the 2008 Honda CR-V coaxes adequate performance from its 166-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and feels quite refined with the smooth-shifting five-speed automatic. However, we find it's reluctant to downshift when needed for steep grades.
While Mother Proof deems the 2008 Honda CR-V's engine "perky and surprisingly quick," Motor Trend warns, “On the road, the CR-V isn't powerful--its 166 hp and 9.2-second 0-to-60-mph time (produced by this front-drive version)--will keep you happily abreast of traffic, but will also probably dissuade you from any particularly daring maneuvers.” Edmunds is pretty much in agreement on this subject: "Engine and transmission can be overwhelmed by hilly stretches of highway"; they warn "highway passing can be an adventure." Car and Driver sums it up in three words: "forget drag racing."
Kelley Blue Book notes a five-speed automatic transmission is now the only option for this vehicle. They report "dropping the five-speed manual transmission may be lamented by mileage maximizers, but Honda says that the demand for stick-shift CR-Vs among buyers is low." Motor Trend observes, “Our car's five-speed automatic transmission (a rarity in this category that's packed jowl to jowl with four speeds) also has an odd trait: For some reason you can't manually select fourth. But this is probably more a curiosity than a nuisance.”
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. Edmunds says it “only apportions power to the rear wheels when front slippage occurs.”
While Mother Proof expresses satisfaction with the power of the 2008 Honda CR-V's engine, this source voices almost equal disappointment with its fuel economy--which is poor, considering it's a mere four-banger: "It has plenty of power while keeping gas consumption down to an estimated 20/26 mpg." However, the test driver reports having "averaged about 16 mpg in two weeks of mostly suburban driving." Edmunds weighs in: “For 2008, the front-wheel-drive CR-V achieves a 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway rating.”
Handling feels stable but not very sporty; the emphasis is clearly comfort and quiet. Honda’s CR-V is more agile than most compact crossovers, according to Edmunds: “it feels light on its feet, with well-weighted steering that provides excellent feedback,” they say, and “ride quality is composed and comfortable.” Car and Driver likes the “good driving manners,” and Cars.com remarks it “reacts with an intuitive feel that's rare in non-luxury cars”—though Motor Trend notices “a tendency to periodically 'tramline' on certain surfaces.” The most glaring exception is Mother Proof, whose test driver does not care for the 2008 Honda CR-V's tight suspension, reporting that she could "feel every bump" and finds herself "dreading speed bumps and freeway speeds more than usual."