What's New for 1998
A manual transmission debuts. Also available is a front-wheel-drive LX model, and the EX trim level now includes a CD player, antilock brakes and remote keyless entry.
For years, Honda has been selling a sport-utility vehicle that many consider a fraud. Forget that the Honda Passport is based on the very rugged and capable Isuzu Rodeo. To Honda aficionados, it is not a real Honda. (Think of how the Porsche 914 fares in the eyes of diehard Porsche fanatics.) Thus, to many people, the CR-V is the first Honda sport-utility vehicle.
Built on the Civic platform, the CR-V successfully integrates familiar Honda components into an all-new design. Honda's famous four-wheel double-wishbone suspension makes an appearance on the CR-V, the first-ever application of four-wheel double-wishbone technology on a sport-ute, as does the very familiar four-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter DOHC inline four-cylinder engine makes 126 horsepower and 133 foot-pounds of torque. The CR-V's real time four-wheel drive system is a derivative of the unit that Honda initially offered on their Civic wagon. The result of using all of these car components is that the CR-V looks and feels rather like a car.
The CR-V's interior is instantly recognizable to anyone who has spent any time in Honda's passenger cars. Functionality takes precedence over style in the CR-V's cabin, and the result is easy-to-read gauges, well-placed controls, and high-quality, if somewhat boring, interior materials. Fit and finish is equal to the highly-acclaimed Accord. The CR-V offers comfortable chairs for its occupants, each of which has excellent visibility and the ability to recline when the trip grows long. The CR-V's cargo capacity is an outstanding 67.2 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded.
Available in either LX or EX trim levels for 1998, the CR-V is surprisingly well-equipped even at the LX trim level. Air conditioning with a micron filtration system is standard, as are power windows, power door locks, rear window wiper and defogger, AM/FM stereo, cruise control and a folding picnic table that doubles as a cargo area cover. Options include antilock brakes and alloy wheels (ABS is part of the EX package).
The CR-V is not meant to replace hard-core recreational vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler or Toyota 4Runner. Instead, it is meant for the person who wants the functionality of a sport-utility without having to pay an exorbitant sticker price and huge gas bills. The CR-V will get people to work and back in all but the worst weather, and to their favorite picnic area, assuming it's not on the Rubicon Trail. Best of all, it's a sport-utility vehicle that Honda lovers can finally call their own.