2008 Honda CR-V Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Honda CR-V If...

Few vehicles do as many things as well as the 2008 Honda CR-V. As practical as a backpack, this benchmark crossover is an easy, one-size-fits-most car choice.

You May Not Like The 2008 Honda CR-V If...

There's little pizzazz in practical. If you chafe in sensible shoes, a compact crossover may not be the right fit for you. If only Honda hadn't dropped the available manual transmission, there might be some sporty salvation.

What's New

The luxurious EX-L trim gains dual-zone automatic temperature control, premium audio and an eight-way power driver's seat with power lumbar.

Interior Features

Like its predecessors, the 2008 Honda CR-V's defining feature is a highly flexible floor plan. Split rear seats fold easily and tumble forward. Doing so increases cargo capacity from a generous minimum of 35.7 cubic feet to a maximum of 72.9 cubic feet. Lift-over height in back is low. Second-row seats also recline slightly and the headrests have been redesigned for a visibility-enhancing low profile when not in use. Rear-seat travel is adjustable fore and aft, front seats have enough travel to accommodate taller folks and all trim levels benefit from fold-down, inside armrests. Rear-seat legroom has been reduced by about an inch compared to the previous generation, but six-footers can still fit front and rear simultaneously, though it's a tad tighter in back now. The CR-V's dual-dial dash is an easy read, controls and switchgear are all within arm's reach and simple to operate and inside storage areas abound.

Exterior Features

The first two generations of the CR-V made their marks by combining exceptional utility with enviable reliability. They were high function, but low fashion. This time around, Honda aims to lay claim to that portion of the new buyers flocking to this segment who are style-conscious. Toward that end, the 2008 Honda CR-V's still-practical package is wrapped in a more fashion-forward design. The side view is dramatically different than past CR-Vs, with an elliptically-shaped greenhouse. Up front are slash-cut headlamps and a laid-back windshield, while the rear benefits from a large window and the removal of the hatch-mounted spare tire.

Driving Impressions

On the road, the 2008 Honda CR-V has a well-integrated feel. The four-cylinder engine is right-sized for daily driving duties and the automatic transmission shifts smoothly. The only interruption to the quiet inside the cabin is some noise from the engine in high-demand situations, such as when the transmission kicks down to a lower gear for passing. Beyond that, there's not much road noise and little wind noise, even when the moonroof (standard on EX and EX-L) is open. The CR-V has a cushioned ride that belies its size and handling is stable and predictable. Visibility is good in all directions, even to the rear. The four-wheel-drive system is automatic, requiring no input from the driver, and shifts up to 70 percent of available torque from front to rear wheels as needed for improved traction.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for a two-wheel-drive CR-V LX starts around $21,000, while the 4WD EX trim starts around $25,000. A fully-loaded EX-L with leather and navigation tops out around $29,000. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price others are paying for the CR-V in your area, so be sure to check it out before you buy. Among the models cross-shopped with the CR-V are the Saturn Vue, Ford Escape, Subaru Forester and relative newcomer Jeep Compass. All compare favorably with the CR-V on features per dollar, but lack the track record for reliability that the Honda enjoys. The CR-V retains the best five-year resale values in the segment.

Notable Equipment

The 2008 Honda CR-V is offered in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX-L. Standard across the board is a tire-pressure-monitoring system, 17-inch wheels, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an MP3/auxilliary audio input jack, speed-sensitive volume control and a "conversation mirror" on the back of the sun visor. LX and EX models have a retractable center tray table between the front seats, while EX-L versions have a fixed, floor-mounted console. Two covered storage containers are included---the larger of which is big enough to hold 24 CDs. EX and EX-L models gain a folding, removable, dual-level shelf in the cargo bay for added storage options, while the EX-L has an eight-way power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and an upgraded audio system, with 270 watts of power, a six-disc, center console CD changer, seven speakers (including subwoofer) and a digital audio-card reader.

Notable Options

Honda's Real Time four-wheel-drive system is available on all trim levels. A GPS navigation system with a large, six-and-a-half-inch screen, voice recognition and rearview camera function is offered on EX-L models.

Favorite Features

Refined Ride Quality

A compact car with a big-car ride, the CR-V has a composed feel, easily rolling over rough roads without ruffling the passengers.

Sensible Size, Flexible Floor Plan

Right-sized, real-world dimensions and a highly adaptable interior are two reasons why the CR-V is Honda's biggest seller worldwide.

Under the Hood

The 2008 Honda CR-V has a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 166 horsepower and delivers its 161 pound-feet of torque across a wider power band than previously. The four-cylinder engine is linked exclusively to a five-speed automatic transmission. Dropping the five-speed manual transmission---formerly standard equipment on the CR-V---may be lamented by mileage maximizers, but Honda says that the demand for stick-shift CR-Vs among buyers is low.

2.4-liter in-line 4

166 horsepower @ 5800 rpm

161 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 (2WD), 20/26 (4WD)

Editors' Notes

When the Honda CR-V first appeared in 1997, the SUV landscape had a far different look than it does today. Then, the market offered very few compact four-wheel-drive wagon/SUV crosses, and the new Honda was the head of a very small class. These days, rising gas prices have chased many drivers out of their large SUVs and, in the hopes of downsizing, into smaller, more fuel-efficient transportation. As a result, the roads are now becoming thick with crossover utility vehicles, but the third-generation CR-V continues to prove a resilient competitor.

Road Test Video Reviews

2008 Honda CR-V Owner Reviews

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Enjoy the ride, but be proactive with technical issues.

2008 Honda CR-V

I like the way my CR-V handles, it provides a comfortable ride, and I like the vantage point it offers with clear sight lines, and easily accessing blind spots. It sits rather high, so I had running boards added to give the older adults I transport easier access. The reason I have downgraded it is mainly due to the inconvenience of the recalls I have experienced that began the year after its purchase. The first affected the door locks which would randomly buzz and unlock, and the volume of the buzz became loud enough to cause passengers to inquire what on earth the sound was. It turned out that it was an inherent flaw for which a recall was issued. The dealership remedied it, but a year later, the same problem resurfaced with the back door locks. They didn't spontaneously unlock, but when locking it was accompanied by a very loud buzzing sound. When I returned to the dealer to inquire, they said they were caused by a separate electrical issue, and would cost about $400 to repair. I did not see how they couldn’t be part of the same recall and declined service. I have been inured to the sound over the years, but it still alarms passengers. There was another electrical issue that impacted my radio/CD player, which they did address at no charge. There were three different recalls for my air bags. So, bottom line is that I would still purchase another CR-V, for its ease of handling, it is comfortable ride, and it's clear visibility, but at the first sign of an issue, I would definitely seek out service, and if my claim were to be denied, I'd be more proactive about seeking recourse. Oh, and PS, as a driver in cold winter months, I'd definitely go for the heated seat option in the future!

- Elizabeth F

Despite recalls, my decade old Honda CRV is a trooper.

2008 Honda CR-V

I love the sturdiness of the CR-V, I like the sightlines it offers, including access to my blind spot. I am not happy with some problems that revolve around recalls that have not been completely addressed; the electrical system key among them. I have had trouble with the door locking mechanism and after the recall that resolved the front door locks, the back door locks exhibited the same issues. But the dealership said that the problem was not related and would cost upwards of $300 to repair, so I have just lived with its noise since. I just have to rely upon the company's claim that the two airbag recalls have been taken care of, and I do appreciate that they kept me abreast of that situation. Overall though, I feel that this car has maintained well over the course of the years compared to my Oldsmobile and Mazda choices. I will be purchasing a new car in 2020 when we move to our retirement home out west, and I will consider Honda if they offer a comparable mini van with a hybrid option.

- Elizabeth F

Great on gas, super speed.

2008 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is a compact SUV that provides style, power, and responsive handling. The CR-V comes in three trims: the lx, the ex and ex-l. It is available in both front- or all-wheel drive. There are multiple safety features including front seat airbags, front seat-mounted side airbags, front and rear seat side air curtains, front seat active head restraints, anti lock brakes with brake assist, electronic brake-force distribution and vehicle stability assist with traction control. The CR-V is powered by a 166-horsepower inline-4 cylinder engine and controlled by a five-speed automatic transmission. For 2008, the Honda CR-V carries over with more standard features on the ex-l trim. The Jeep patriot is available in two trims, sport and limited, which have a standard 172-hp 2. 4-liter four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission; a continuously variable transmission (cvt) is optional. A 158-hp 2. 0l engine, available with the cvt only, is available on the fwd. sport trim.

- Janet S

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