Colleagues and others who drove the Honda 2000 CR-V EX utility wagon complained about a lack of horsepower. I didn't understand this, until I put the CR-V on the highway. There, its lack of oomph became obvious. The vehicle struggled to keep up with traffic that nearly always left it in its wake. Whoosh! A truck sped by. Zoom! A sports coupe disappeared into the distance. Varrooommm! Ah, that was a Porsche. What can keep up with a Porsche?
Lack of horsepower has a way of affecting ego, especially when it is so clearly your vehicle that has the deficit. I think this is a major source of discontent with the CR-V's highway performance. Many people don't mind being last in line as long as they know they have the power to be first. With the CR-V's 146-horsepower four-cylinder engine, they know they don't.
But still, that seems a minor problem -- certainly not something to dissuade potential CR-V buyers. After all, this vehicle was not designed as a racer, or some kind of high-performance autobahn burner. Heck, though it resembles one, it wasn't even designed as a sport-utility vehicle.
Instead, the CR-V is a high-quality, exceptionally reliable, affordable conveyance. It has an SUV body built on a car platform. Thus, the ride is more like that of a car than anything else. The difference is that its 8.1-inch ground clearance and high seats help give its drivers and passengers a better view of the road.
Also, the CR-V is a very practical vehicle -- as practical as any well-designed station wagon. It holds five people with the rear seats up and carries up to 67 cubic feet of cargo with rear seats down.
There is versatile and easy access to rear cargo room. You can pop open the rear window to toss in items such as overnight bags. The lower rear door swings open to permit the entry of larger, slide-in cargo.
Overall interior comfort is excellent. The tested mid-line EX version has no complicated power seats. Quick, simple manual adjustments do the job. The dashboard mostly makes good ergonomic sense. Analog dials and gauges are easy to see and read.
But the caveat comes because someone on the design team goofed by putting the power-window control buttons on the lower left side of the dashboard, making them hard to see and use.
As providence would have it, it rained much of the week I had the CR-V. These were washouts, the kind that raised appreciation for the genius of Honda's all-wheel-drive system, as well as similar systems offered by rivals, such as Subaru.
These all-wheel-drive systems (Honda calls its version "Real-Time AWD") are in the truest sense automatic. Drive power is allocated wheel-to-wheel, depending on which wheel, or wheels, have the most traction, or the best chance of pulling the vehicle out of mess. Gripping wheels get the extra boost.
This makes perfect sense. Driving all four wheels all the time burns more fuel and causes more wear.
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