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While the Honda CR-V receives only minor updates for 2008, it maintains a good reputation among drivers due to its solid, high-quality build, its top-of-class safety features, its roomy and flexible interior, and its nimble handling.The Bad
Some drivers find the '08 CR-V underpowered, especially at highway speeds and during passing situations, while others would like to see better fuel economy from the compact SUV.
The CarGurus View
The CR-V remains the leader of the pack in the compact SUV segment, and while the vehicle has its minor faults, drivers will find in the CR-V a solid, reliable vehicle with a good mix of style, comfort, economy, and value.
At a Glance
Following a well-received redesign in 2007, the Honda CR-V changes little for 2008. Honda made a few updates to the CR-V's high-end trim, the EX-L, adding dual-zone climate control, an upgraded sound system, and an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar support to the standard equipment list. But the entry-level LX and mid-level EX trims carry over from the previous year largely unchanged. Overall, the '08 CR-V retains the sleek styling, flexible interior, and other award-winning features that made it the best-selling SUV in the U.S. last year.
All CR-Vs are compact SUVs with seating for five in two rows. Drivers can choose from either front-wheel- or four-wheel-drive versions. The 4WD system provides additional stability and traction on slippery roads, but drivers seeking a true off-road vehicle should look elsewhere. (The CR-V's ground clearance, for instance, was lowered about an inch as part of its 2007 redesign.) Around town, however, the CR-V excels, according to numerous drivers and reviewers. U.S. News and World Report ranked the 2008 Honda CR-V number 1 out of a field of 27 affordable compact SUVs, attesting to its high-end design, quality, and performance. In addition, the previous year's version of the CR-V received many awards, including Motor Week's "Driver's Choice" for Best Small Utility and IntelliChoice's "Motorist Choice Award" for a Mid-Size Crossover SUV. All of the attributes that resulted in those awards reside in the '08 version as well.
According to some reports, Honda may add a diesel-powered CR-V in 2009. For now, however, a 166-hp, double-overhead-cam iVTEC gas-powered four-cylinder engine, which carries over from the previous year, drives all CR-Vs. The engine links to a five-speed automatic transmission, which comes as standard equipment across the line. According to Consumer Reports, the CR-V's four-cylinder engine performs better than the V6 engines in some competitors' vehicles, delivering 161 lb-ft of torque at 4,200 RPM. The CR-V has a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds and runs on regular unleaded fuel.
The engine features variable timing control, which makes adjustments to provide smooth operation when idling, reduced emissions when cruising, and maximum torque when accelerating. Other engine features include multi-point fuel injection, a Direct Ignition system, and a Drive-by-Wire throttle system, which operates electronically using a sensor rather than mechanically. The EPA rates fuel economy at 20/27 mpg for front-wheel-drive trims and 20/26 for four-wheel-drive trims.
For 2008, the CR-V's real-time 4WD system, which comes as an option on all three trims, has been improved for better performance in adverse road conditions. The system applies driving power to all four wheels only when necessary. In normal driving conditions, such as on dry surfaces, only the front wheels drive the vehicle. When the system detects slippage, however, it automatically delivers power to the rear wheels. This low-maintenance 4WD system also increases drivetrain efficiency and helps decrease overall noise and vibration, according to Honda.
Ride & Handling
Essentially a crossover vehicle, the CR-V rides on a car-like platform that borrows its underpinnings from the Honda Accord and Civic. A MacPherson strut front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, along with power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering, ensure agility over the road, while power-assisted ventilated disc brakes in the front and solid disc brakes in the rear provide plenty of braking power. The variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering feels tight and responsive, providing good control and agility, according to drivers. Some reviewers liken the CR-V's ride to that of a sports sedan, and others note that the CR-V offers handling unmatched by any other vehicle in its class. Alternatively, some reviewers and drivers find the ride to be stiff, bumpy, and choppy. But most agree the CR-V feels light on its feet and offers a car-like ride, or as close as possible in an SUV.
One of its few dings concerns the CR-V's power. Some reviewers like the engine's performance, calling it peppy and perky, while others would like to see more power and a stronger performance factor, especially at highway and passing speeds. Most find the engine performance adequate, although drivers who prefer plenty of power under the pedal and like some control over the transmission might find the CR-V lacking. For daily driving and around-town excursions, however, most drivers are pleased with the CR-V's performance and handling.
Cabin & Comfort
Again, the '08 Honda CR-V ranks at or near the top of its class when it comes to interior comfort and features, according to numerous sources. Even the entry-level LX trim comes well-equipped with such features as power windows and door locks, cruise control, 12-volt power outlets, upper and lower glove compartments, 60/40-split rear seats, and heating vents for rear-seat passengers. (There are no rear cooling vents, however.) In addition, all CR-Vs come with audio systems that include an MP3/auxliliary input jack. For the LX, a four-speaker, 160-watt system with a CD player comes standard, while the EX adds two more speakers and an in-dash 6-CD changer. The high-end EX-L receives a 270-watt system with seven speakers, including a subwoofer.
Standard features for the EX include illuminated steering-wheel-mounted controls, a security system, and a one-touch power moonroof with tilt, while the EX-L comes equipped with leather-trimmed seats and armrests, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a leather-wrapped shifter, and XM satellite radio. In addition all CR-Vs have plenty of storage spaces, including underseat and door-pocket storage bins, and front and rear beverage holders. On the EX-L trim only, Honda offers an optional satellite-linked navigation system with voice recognition and up to eight megabytes of memory.
In an effort to help reduce interior noise and vibration, Honda used noise-absorption materials in the CR-V's interior, including in the floor, ceiling, side panels, and instrument panel. In addition, for 2008 the automaker added new insulated backing to the carpets and insulation on the front fenders. As a result, the cabin does a good job of blocking out road and wind noise, according to reviewers.
Despite its compact size, the CR-V offers plenty of interior space, even for tall individuals. Drivers and reviewers find the cabin roomy, with plenty of front and rear legroom, making it a comfortable ride for adults over long distances.
The CR-V has nearly 36 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seat up. That expands to nearly 73 cubic feet with the rear seat folded down. In addition, for 2008 Honda adds a new dual-deck cargo shelf for the EX and EX-L trims. The dual-deck shelf expands cargo space by providing an upper rear storage deck for light items, with heavier items stored underneath on the cargo-area floor.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety named the Honda CR-V a Top Safety Pick for 2008, due in part to the SUV's five-star performance in front and side-impact crash tests. Side curtain airbags for front and rear passengers, dual-stage front airbags, antilock brakes, a tire pressure monitoring system, and Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control come standard on all CR-Vs for 2008. In addition, the '08 CR-V features an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which absorbs and disperses crash energy in collisions with vehicles of differing sizes, protecting the occupants.
The CR-V offers good visibility out the sides and rear, according to drivers and reviewers. In addition, Honda offers a backup camera for the EX-L as part of the optional navigation system, enabling drivers to back up safely in tight areas or in situations when children might be present around the vehicle.
What Owners Think
The '08 CR-V garners high marks from numerous loyal drivers who have repeatedly purchased CR-Vs over the years. New drivers, many of whom traded in larger, low-gas-mileage SUVs for the CR-V, are equally as enthusiastic about the compact SUV. The 2007 redesign, which carries over to 2008, still appeals to drivers, as does the CR-V's comfort, handling, versatility, and overall value. The CR-V's roominess and flexibility also draw drivers, as does Honda's reputation for quality. In addition, drivers like the numerous storage spaces, although some note that the dual-deck can be annoying when trying to load large cargo. Most drivers find the CR-V's performance adequate, though not overwhelming, especially when passing. Some are disappointed with the CR-V's performance, but generally drivers are satisfied with the powerplant.
Drivers disagree on road and wind noise. Some think Honda succeeded in making the CR-V quieter, while others find it still too noisy at highway speeds. Gas mileage remains another point of contention. Some drivers say their CR-Vs get up to 30 mpg, or even more, but other drivers note their vehicles see mileage in the low to mid 20s. Some drivers would like to see better gas mileage but, again, most are satisfied with their CR-Vs in this area.
CarGurus drivers regularly use superlatives when describing the CR-V, and express great enthusiasm for the compact SUV. Handling, braking, and overall build quality all get good marks, though some CarGurus drivers would like to see a higher-quality leather in the EX-L, a sentiment echoed by other drivers. Some give dings to the CR-V's front end, calling the nose "awkward," but overall the exterior gets good marks. Likewise, CarGurus drivers like its roomy interior, numerous interior amenities, and extensive safety features.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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2008 Honda CR-V Top Comparisons
Users ranked 2008 Honda CR-V against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.
Cars compared to 2008 Honda CR-V
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