Comfortable and basic motoring at its best |

Comfortable and basic motoring at its best

Special to the DailyThe 2005 Honda CR-V features a comfortable ride and enough power for a small-sized SUV.

Certain vehicles give you an immediate sense of confidence – and we’re not talking about that artificial “king of the road” feeling you get stepping behind the wheel of a very large automobile.Rather, there’s an innate sense that the combination of manufacturing quality, design and overall fit and finish have produced a four-wheel machine that’s going to give you plenty of driving satisfaction. A vehicle that will get through the worst of highway conditions and, in all likelihood, not have to be taken back to the shop over and over again.Honda’s rugged CR-V does just that. Nicely appointed, well-designed and built as tight as a drum, the small SUV is an affordable, comfortable and completely enjoyable all-season hauler.

You won’t get room for seven (five’s more the CR-V’s style) or lightning-fast speeds, but the 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine will still give you plenty of power and admirable mileage. You can also rest assured that the full-time AWD system will prevail on snowy passes and light-duty off-road adventures.And priced about the same as the similarly sized Hyundai Santa Fe and quite a bit less than the Jeep Liberty – both of which the CR-V outshines – Honda’s offering carries with it all of its family’s impeccable construction standards and reputation for quality and reliability. Everything works well and the whole package made for one of the nicest non-exotic machines we’ve driven in a while.Admittedly, the base SE model is short on bells and whistles. Ours was fitted with a six-CD in-dash stereo, power sunroof, power windows and locks – and little else (leather seating seems to be the major upscale option available, although the cloth interior on our model was more than adequate). But the straight-forward nature of the CR-V also made it a blessing, especially after being overwhelmed by automatic air leveling systems and talking GPS technology.

With elegant styling that makes it more car-like than truck-like and the capable grounding of a rugged set of 16-inch Bridgestone Dueller H/T all-seasons, the CR-V was one particularly smooth ride.That smallish power plant still made for comfortable 75 mph freeway cruising between Eagle and Vail. Heading up the passes, the automatic transmission tended to bobble a bit between third and fourth gears to maintain speed but kept pace and power. You just won’t be passing the Porsches and Audis as you hit the summit.The only major downside I experienced was the CR-V’s seating position. An overly stiff driver’s seat offered ample support but felt a bit tough after a long ride; there’s also limited foot space under the steering wheel (the left-hand wheel well consumes much of your foot room) and some drivers may find that an uncomfortable experience.The CR-V’s overall size and height makes for easy access by both drivers and passengers, no leaps or stepladders required. The vehicle’s smooth design is accentuated by two rails on the roof that emerge out of the window line; a short, curved hood; large, triangular headlight cluster; and body-colored side mirrors, all of which help round out that attractive aesthetic.

In the back, large oblong windows provide great visibility; a tall, plastic bumper assembly covers half of the back gate (very tall brake and turn lights cover the top edges of the tail), with an externally-mounted spare providing more interior storage room and a small pop-up window allowing quick access. The entire back gate also opens to the right, allowing good access.Inside the back, you’ll find ample carpeted space with plenty of tie-down points, a 12-volt outlet and even more cargo room made possible with 60/40 split rear bench seats. That seating, like the front, is also tall and stiff but is big enough for three passengers. There’s no individual heat or AC controls for the back passengers; you and the kids may have to fight about adjusting the temperature.I did appreciate the adaptable center console tray located between the driver and passenger, big enough to hold a notebook, cell phone and two drinks, but able to fold flat out of the way when not needed.

The slot machine-styled emergency brake, mounted on the dash, is also an interesting design touch; the handle-styled gear lever is also separate of the steering column and features an overdrive button.Hard plastic construction prevails throughout the cabin, with textured plastic below the short dash. A comfortable, leather-styled steering wheel features audio and cruise controls at your fingers; instrumentation is basic, with analog speed, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges (the only electronic read-out is an exterior temperature gauge). The simple three-knob heating and air conditioning controls were very easy to use.You’ll enjoy good visibility, great handling, good finish and a well-assembled ride in the CR-V; it’s comfortable, basic motoring at its best.

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