A staple in Honda’s lineup, the third-generation CR-V was sold between 2007 and 2011 and set the pace for the crossover to become the sales leader it is today with solid practicality and affordability.
The last generation model, introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model marked important changes to the CR-V formula, many of which have stuck around today. For starters, Honda stopped offering the manual transmission in any trim level of the CR-V. Third-generation CR-Vs also no longer wear their spare tire on the rear door, but now feature it under the cargo floor. As a result, the rear door swings up instead of out. All CR-V’s featured a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that made 166 hp and 161 lb-ft of torque in 2006. Later models saw power output increase to 180 hp as part of a refresh.
There are three trim levels are available for the CR-V: LX, EX and EX-L. All models arrive with standard front-wheel drive and Honda’s Real Time 4WD all-wheel drive system is available extra cost option. Base LX trim models came with air-conditioning, power windows, power locks, power side mirrors and packed practical features like a retractable center tray table, upper and lower glove boxes, an under-seat storage bin and rear seats that could slide and fold (60/40 split) for more cargo space.
Highlights of the EX trim included 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome touches on the exterior and a moon roof. It also came with an upgraded sound-system, steering-wheel mounted audio controls and an exterior temperature display.
EX-L trimmed models included leather seating that is heated for front passengers. It also featured body-colored heated side mirrors and body colored door handles and was available with satellite radio and Honda’s navigation system with voice recognition. These models also featured a rear-view camera and a seven speaker sound system. In later years the EX-L models came with dual-zone automatic climate controls.
In 2010, the CR-V underwent a facelift that changed the interior and exterior styling slightly. In 2011 a new SE trim level was introduced that sat between the LX and EX trims and featured 17-inch alloy wheels and steering-wheel mounted buttons for audio and cruise control.
Top Three Reasons to Buy
- Practicality – The CR-V is popular for its no-nonsense approach to getting family and cargo from point A to B. While it’s not the most gorgeous, luxurious or sportiest crossover in the market, it is extremely practical with an above average of cargo and passenger room. Maximum cargo space with the rear-seats folded down is 72.9 cubic feet, though space with the seats up isn’t bad at 35.7 cubic feet.
- Safety -The IIHS gave “Good” ratings to the 2007-2011 CR-V in front moderate overlap, Side and Head restraints & seats, and a “marginal” rating for roof strength.
- Fuel Economy – The CR-V is only offered with one engine and transmission, but it’s a potent combo when it comes to delivering fuel savings. Rated to get 20 mpg in the city and up to 27 mpg on the highway, the CR-V is one of the most fuel-efficient crossovers available.
Top 3 Problem Areas
- Rear differential – In all-wheel drive models, the rear differential sometimes makes a loud groan or buzz. This can be fixed with a fluid change, although in some extreme cases the rear-differential has been replaced. Honda issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) to its dealer network related to the issue.
- AC Compressor Clutch – The air conditioning in the CR-V can be a bit temperamental, and is prone to excess noise, poor performance and early failure. Honda has issued a warranty extension on the component, and vehicles are now covered for 100,000 miles or seven years.
- Engine Control Unit – While the CR-V isn’t fast or powerful, some CR-V’s are noticeably worse than others. The sluggish acceleration can be chalked up to a faulty ECU, which is covered in a TSB issued by Honda. The fix is quick and involves a reflash of the unit.
CR-V specific concerns involve the three problem areas above – and though most of them are covered by Honda, the previous owners may not have had the fixes performed. Some other worrisome issues include a seizing power-steering pump, which is also covered by Honda via TSB.
Windshield wipers are also prone to sticking outside their parked position and of course be aware of rust on any car that is exposed to the elements during the course of its ownership.
Additionally, it’s important to know that the CR-V isn’t known for its bank-vault-like sound insulation. A test drive will help you understand just how noisy the car can be, especially at highway speeds. Squeaks and rattles are inevitable, so a test drive will also help you understand what you’re getting into and if it’s bearable on a daily basis.
Finally, pre-2011 CR-V’s are affected by one recall that involved the automatic transmission. Ensure any CR-V you’re considering purchasing has been serviced for this issue.
Looking through the complaints, recalls and service bulletins of the 2007-2011 CR-V, you’ll find that earlier models had more complaints and TSBs. Pre-facelifted 2009 models featured the one recall, and the fewest (eight) service bulletins, while the 2011 model had no recalls and only 11 TSBs. If you prefer the pre-facelifted styling, the 2009 model would be best, but ensure that the recall regarding the automatic transmission has been performed. The 2011 model doesn’t have the same safety concerns. The 2011 is more appealing since it will still have some warranty coverage as well. Of course, CR-Vs cars typically skew a bit higher on the used-car price spectrum, since they’re so attractive in terms of reliability, fuel efficiency and practicality.