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Honda CR-V Through the Years

The Honda CR-V is a best-selling SUV worldwide, but how did it start? Join us in a look at all the Honda CR-V generations from the very beginning.

A Rookie with Promise to a Highly Popular SUV

The Honda CR-V is currently one of the best-selling SUVs globally and in the U.S., but it started in the 1990s, before SUVs really became popular. As one of the innovators of the compact SUV segment, Honda mixed the Honda Civic platform with a crossover body design. They never looked back. Through the years, the Honda CR-V generations have brought facelifts, refreshes, and redesigns. Honda has found the right balance of needed evolution and keeping the characteristics that people appreciated about the CR-V to begin with. As a result, the CR-V is still a popular choice for car shoppers and is one of Honda’s longest-standing vehicles. It was one of our top 10 compact crossovers under $20,000. The CR-V was also on our list of the best SUVs for families.

First Generation (1997-2001)

1997 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com

1997 Honda CR-V – hondanews.com |  Shop Honda CR-V on Carsforsale.com

  • The Honda CR-V was Honda’s first in-house designed SUV, but not the first SUV made by Honda.
  • Honda produced the Honda Passport before the Honda CR-V.
  • The vehicle’s dimensions exceeded the Japanese government’s compact car regulations, leading to higher taxes on the car.
  • The CR-V debuted in 1995 with just one trim, but didn’t show up in the U.S. until the 1997 model year.
1997 Honda CR-V 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
1997 Honda CR-V 2.0L I4 - carsforsale.com
  • The model, later known as the LX, was on display at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show.
  • It was powered by a 2.0-liter straight-four B20B, producing 126 horsepower and 133 lb⋅ft of torque.
  • A second trim, the CR-V EX, was released in 1998, a year after the first CR-V.
  • An all-new CR-V SE trim then debuted in 2000.
2000 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2000 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • The 2000 Honda CR-V added a leather interior, a navigation system, and a CD/cassette combo.
  • A new 2.0-liter, 16-valve dual overhead camshaft engine developed 146 horsepower and 133 lb-ft of torque.
  • Designers used a cylinder block-casting process to make all four cast-iron cylinder bores one compact unit, using aluminum-alloy block around it.
  • They also developed a new 4WD system and 4-speed automatic transmission in the 2001 models.

Second Generation (2002-2006)

2002 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2002 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • The 2002 Honda CR-V kicked off the second generation with upgraded engine power and a redesigned look.
  • This CR-V had a 2.4-liter inline-four engine that made 160 horsepower and 162 lb-ft of torque.
  • It was paired with a 5-speed manual transmission or 4-speed automatic transmission.
2002 Honda CR-V 2.4L I4 - hondanews.com
2002 Honda CR-V 2.4L I4 - hondanews.com
  • Inside, new features included: a reclining rear seat, front and rear side airbags, and front console center tray.
  • A new LX trim was also introduced with the 2002 Honda CR-V.
  • Between the three trims, the CR-V was offered with 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.
2004 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2004 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • A facelift for the 2004 Honda CR-V involved different headlamps and a black lower grille on the front.
  • This was the last generation of the CR-V offering a manual folding picnic table.
  • It was also the last generation that offered a transmission.

Third Generation (2007-2011)

2007 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2007 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • The 2007 model of the Honda CR-V came with a controversial redesign to the front end.
  • The front was a smoother shape after designers moved spare tire from the back of the vehicle to underneath the floor.
  • The 2.4-liter inline-four returned, but it got a power boost to 166 horsepower.
  • After the five-speed manual transmission was dropped, the five-speed automatic transmission became standard across all CR-V models.
  • New fabric, 17″ alloy wheels, and wider seat armrests were all added to the 2007 Honda CR-V.
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2010 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2010 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • In 2008, the CR-V became the best-selling SUV in the United States, selling 197,279 vehicles.
  • It was also one of the top 10 best-selling overall vehicles of the year.
  • A few years later the 2010 Honda CR-V received a slight increase of 14 additional horsepower.
  • The 2010 CR-V also included a freshened front fascia with a new grille and bumper design.
  • In 2011, the SE trim was added along with an all-new AWD system.
  • The 2011 Honda CR-V SE replaced styled-steel wheels with alloy wheels.

Fourth Generation (2012-2016)

2012 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2012 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • The next generation started with the 2012 CR-V and included an upgrade to its engine output even more, increasing the total to 185 horsepower.
  • Making 163 lb-ft of torque, the 2.4-liter inline-four engine was still mated to the five-speed automatic transmission.
2012 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2012 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • FWD was standard on the 2012 Honda CR-V while AWD was optional.
  • Honda was integrating some new tech features by 2012, including: Bluetooth capabilities, a 5″ center screen, and a backup camera.
  • By the time the 2014 models were released, the EX was the most popular CR-V trim.
2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2015 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • The EX included a power moonroof, 6-speaker audio system, and 17″ alloy wheels.
  • Over 60 changes were made to the 2015 Honda CR-V’s body, revising suspension, re-tuning handling, and improving sound insulation.
  • Body rigidity and door sealing were also increased with the 2015 Honda CR-V.

Fifth Generation (2017-Present)

2017 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2017 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • For the start of the fifth generation, the fully redesigned 2017 Honda CR-V was given LED headlights and taillights, dual exhaust, and a longer wheelbase.
  • 2018 and 2019 Honda CR-V models remained mostly unchanged, though small updates, like adding a few new paint options, were made.
  • U.S. sales for the Honda CR-V hit the 5-million-unit mark by 2020.
2020 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
2020 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com2020 Honda CR-V - hondanews.com
  • A refreshed 2020 Honda CR-V included a new turbocharged powertrain for the LX trim.
  • Exterior styling on the 2020 models was refreshed as well with new headlight designs and a new look for the front bumper and grille.
  • By this point, upper-tier Honda CR-V trims offered Qi-compatible wireless cell phone charging, a 7” touchscreen display, front and rear USB charging points, and integration for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
2022 Honda CR-V 2.0L Hybrid I4 - hondanews.com
2022 Honda CR-V 2.0L Hybrid I4 - hondanews.com
  • Starting with the 2022 Honda CR-V models, a CR-V Hybrid became available.
  • The Hybrid version is powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors, making a combined 212 horsepower.
  • The 2022 models were offered in six trim levels, which we detailed in our 2022 Honda CR-V review.
2022 Honda CR-V Hybrid - hondanews.com

2022 Honda CR-V Hybrid – hondanews.com |  Shop Honda CR-V on Carsforsale.com

  • The 2023 Honda CR-V is expected to have an even more modern grille design with new front and rear lighting elements.
  • It’s also expected to be offered in both gasoline and hybrid powertrains, though there are whispers about adding a fully electric version of the SUV, too.

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Jesse Batson

Jesse Batson earned his journalism degree from South Dakota State University. No stranger to newsgathering and reporting, Jesse spent 13 years in TV news. 10 of those years were spent working in Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR. A highlight of his time there was being able to take a lap around the Charlotte Motor Speedway. His interest in vehicles, starting with Matchbox cars, a Big Wheel, and the Transformers, evolved into taking photos of motocross events. Now, he puts his research skills to use on car culture, reviews, and comparisons.

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