Although not a luxury SUV, the 2008 Honda CR-V EX-L 4WD is acceptably high-end for the affordable compact SUV segment. The four-wheel drive system engages automatically, accompanied by a mechanical center differential, traction and stability control, 4-wheel disc and ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, Hill Descent Control, and 17-inch wheels with all-season tires. The all-wheel-drive system kicks in during slippery driving conditions and cannot be used for off-roading. Along with the dual front-side and side curtain airbags, halogen headlamps, daytime running lights, and standard tire monitor, the safety features on the 2008 CR-V EX-L 4WD help it earn five stars in crash tests.
Under the hood is a 166-hp, 2.4-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine with 5-speed automatic, which produces 161 ft-lbs of torque. Equipped with full power features, a sunroof, cruise control, wheel-mounted audio controls, remote entry, and intermittent front and rear wipers, the 2008 EX-L 4WD adds an 8-way power driver's seat with lumbar settings, dual-zone climate control, and a 7-speaker audio system this year. The sound system operates an in-dash 6-CD changer with MP3 playback, satellite radio, and an iPod hookup. Only the EX-L comes with standard heated leather seats. Cupholders, three power outlets (including one in the cargo area), storage compartments, a fold-out tray, and pass-through rear armrest are geared toward families. Rear seats recline, move back and forth, and split-fold, expanding the cargo area to 73 cubic feet.
Options for the 2008 CR-V EX-L 4WD include a voice-activated navigation system. Other available features include organizers, a cover, and a net for cargo, a roof rack, side steps and running boards, a rear spoiler, foglights, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A tow hitch is also optional. The EX-L remains popular for its handling, features, and comfort, but drivers express some disappointment with its 20/26 fuel economy estimates and a slightly underpowered engine.