2007 Honda CR-V EX-L
Honda has revamped its popular CR-V for the 2007 model year. Gone are the boxy lines and the barn door, replaced by a curvy crossover SUV with car-like dynamics, plenty of storage space, and some impressive onboard tech features. However, we do have some gripes: the integration of the audio system in navigation-equipped models is decidedly low-fi, and the single-engine choice might deter those looking for a bit more performance than the sedate 4-cylinder CR-V delivers.
Test the tech: Canine Recreation-Vehicle
With its combination of smart styling and functionality, we figured that the 2007 Honda CR-V would be an ideal car for an urban dog owner. To test out our hypothesis, we enlisted the help of Dogs in the Fog, a local dog-walking firm in San Francisco. Our plan was to load up a bunch of dogs in the back of the car, take them for a walk, and then take them home again. We set out on a sunny Friday morning to join the firm's proprietor Andy Vevers at his house, where we loaded in what would be the first three of eight dogs that make up the morning walk. To ensure that all our canine passengers would fit, we folded down the CR-V's second-row seats, giving us 73 cubic feet of space.
The 2007 CR-V comes with 60/40 folding rear seats that tumble forward with the pull of a strap on each of the three segments. With the first passengers--Moe, Ella, and Rosie--successfully installed, we set out to collect the remaining quintet. Driving the CR-V around the hilly residential streets of San Francisco, it felt nimble and responsive for its size. In the course of picking up our remaining passengers--namely Oscar, Rhet, Dobre, Moby, and Jiggy--we had to perform multiple 3-point turns and reversing maneuvers, which were made considerably easier by the CR-V's backup camera. With everyone onboard, we set out towards Buena Vista Park, where Andy takes his charges every morning, rain or shine. As we made our way through traffic, the whining, snorting, and panting from the backseats served to remind us that there was over 500 pounds of dog onboard. It is difficult to describe the experience of driving with eight dogs in the back of a car, but "pandemonium" is pretty close.
Our passengers discovered that the CR-V's folding seats did not lock in place when pushed forward.
As well as giving us a good impression of the storage capacity of the CR-V, our friendly cargo also helped out in the review process. For example, when a couple of the more adventurous dogs tried to join us up in the front seats, they demonstrated that the rear seats do not lock into place. Good work, boy.
The 2007 CR-V does away with the previous-generation model's side-opening cargo door with a top-hinged hatchback. This will make it a lot easier for mall shoppers to access their grocery bags and will allow general access to the whole cargo area; however, it does not lend itself well to controlling the flow of eight eager dogs upon arrival at their walking spot. Consequently, Andy let our passengers out one at a time via the CR-V's side rear door. Following the walk, we set out to return the dogs home, but not before getting a mug shot of all the daytrippers at the end of their morning exercise.
The 2007 Honda CR-V will comfortably accommodate at least eight dogs in the back.
In the cabin
The cabin of the CR-V is stylishly appointed for an under-$30k crossover SUV. The EX-L boasts leather (and heated front) seats, aesthetically-pleasing cabin materials, and a stylish red-and-blue trimmed, electroluminescent instrument panel. Most engine-related details, including fuel level, gas mileage, engine temperature, and average fuel economy, can be seen at a glance via an intuitive white-on-black digital display nestled between the speedometer and the tachometer.
Honda's fabled voice-command system works as well as ever in the 2007 CR-V, but for some reason the system is not hooked up to the air conditioning, so drivers will have to suffer the indignity of having to set the dual-zone climate control with their bare hands. Fortunately, the navigation system can be programmed without moving anything other than the larynx and the left thumb, which is used to depress the Talk button on the bottom of the steering wheel.
Destinations can be entered by calling out the city, street, and house number of the required location. Other voice commands let you zoom in and out, change the orientation of the map, and cancel the voice guidance. Destinations can also be entered manually using either the in-dash LCD's touch screen (although there is no one-touch maps scrolling), or by using a small joystick control at the top right-hand side of the display. We are usually opposed to joysticks as programming interfaces for navigation systems, on the grounds that they are generally fiddly and liable to tip over when attempting to make a selection. The one on the CR-V is more robust than many we have used, but the main problem is its placement--those without very long arms are going to have to stretch a long way out of the driver's seat to use it.
Maps on the navigation screen are legible, but not as well-rendered as on higher-end systems.
In contrast to the slick voice-command interface, the maps in the CR-V's navigation system are coarser than on higher-end systems such as that in the 2007 Acura TL Type-S. While streets are perfectly visible, the rendering is not great, leading to a blocky visual schematic. When giving turn-by-turn directions, the CR-V's navigation system reads out road names--a feature that we particularly like, as it enables drivers to get directions without taking their eyes from the road.
The audio system in the nav-equipped CR-V leaves something to be desired. It can be loaded up with up to seven CDs, but to do so requires both hands and a good deal of patience. This is because the audio system is spread out between the head-unit stack--where a single can be inserted behind the roll-down LCD screen--and the central console between the driver and rear passenger--where there lies buried a six-disc cartridge. To load CDs into the cartridge requires holding open a spring-loaded cover, pressing the Eject button, physically removing the cartridge, slotting CDs into the individual trays, and replacing the cartridge. Not exactly state-of-the-art.
Inserting discs in the center-mounted cartridge is a pain.
To compound the plight of the digital audiophile, the six-disc changer cannot be used to play homemade discs in the MP3 and WMA codecs. Those wishing to play 21st century music formats have to roll down the navigation screen using the Open button on the faceplate (as this happens, the screen displays a reminder that, despite appearances, this is not a drinks tray). With the screen down, drivers are greeted with a single MP3- and WMA-friendly disc slot, and a slot for a digital audio card reader, which can be used to play MP3 and WMA files from Compact Flash and similar media via a PC card adapter.
XM Satellite radio and a generic auxiliary-input jack in the cavernous center console--enabling connection of iPods and other portable music players--complete the CR-V's audio infrastructure. Audio sources can be controlled using multiple interfaces: remote buttons on the steering wheel for track selection and volume control; touch screen controls; hard buttons on the head-unit face plate; and of course the wonderful voice recognition system.
When playing MP3 and WMA discs, the CR-V's screen shows full ID3 tag information for folder, album, and artist. A nice feature when playing digital audio is the CR-V's Track List button, which provides a list of all the tracks on a particular disc by name. With a large number of files on an audio disc, the Track List function can take a minute or so to index them all, but once it has digested all the information, it provides a very useful dashboard for navigating a media library. Its one-touch scroll capability is particularly useful. One other noteworthy feature of the LCD screen in audio mode is the Background option that lets users choose one of three graphical backgrounds when playing music. Options include a plain white background, an EQ-curve animation showing random levels of output; and a ripple-effect animation. In daytime mode, these background graphics are very subtle, but in night mode, they are conspicuously visible.
The standard 270-watt six-speaker audio system on the 2007 Honda CR-V is pretty--well--standard in its quality of acoustic output. While it does have the admirable feature of a programmable subwoofer, output is muddy with little midrange refinement. One reason for this may be the ankle-level placement of the front door-mounted speakers, which have a lot of work to do to fill the CR-V's sizable cabin with immersive sound. Two tweeters at the foot of the A-pillars give some high-end clarity, but the overall acoustic experience is bass-heavy.
Under the hood
The 2007 Honda CR-V comes with one engine choice in the form of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder plant, making 166 horsepower. Like most new models in Honda's lineup, the CR-V features the iVTEC variable valve timing, which serves to adjust valve timing according to engine demand. It also comes with drive-by-wire throttle controls and Grade Logic Control, which is designed to adjust the shift points of the five-speed automatic transmission according to whether the car is on flat ground or going up or down hills.
The CR-V's 4-cylinder iVTEC engine is economical, but can feel underpowered.
For having such a small, low-powered engine relative to its size, the CR-V moves around with adequate thrust (even when loaded to capacity with dogs), although don't expect to be performing any whirlwind passing maneuvers in it. The CR-V's unit body feels generally solid and well balanced thanks to its MacPherson strut front and multilink rear suspension, which is tuned to deliver a surprisingly responsive ride.
In our time with the car, we observed an average fuel economy of 19.8 miles per gallon in around 200 miles of mixed freeway and city driving.
The 2007 Honda CR-V is a reenergized version of Honda's urban SUV, and its range of trim levels will appeal to a wide variety of drivers. Our navigation-equipped EX-L came with leather seats, heated front seats, voice-activated GPS navigation, a backup camera, and XM Satellite Radio all as standard equipment. The EX-L with navigation comes with a base price of $26,800, making it extremely competitive with the likes of the 2007 Ford Escape Hybrid and the Mazda CX 7