In 1994, the Toyota RAV4 was launched and it was the first compact SUV to feature the refinement and usability of a family car. Just three years later, Honda introduced its own take on the formula, the original CR-V, which achieved critical acclaim. Its successor, launched in 2002, raised the bar significantly. So, expectations were high when the third CR-V arrived in 2006, and quite honestly, Honda did not drop the ball.
In Uganda, a number of car brands, categorically Japanese, have lived in Toyota’s shadow for the longest time with Honda being no exception. Buyers of Hondas are usually the uninitiated, have an excellent deal or are so deep in understanding what they are getting into that everything else does not matter.
Truth be told, most buyers would probably look at a Toyota before glancing at the Honda, for various reasons including resale value and maintenance cost. That said, generally, Hondas exude superior packaging, so they usually offer more interior space and cargo volume and access than their direct Toyota rival, the Rav4.
If you are in the market for a used CR-V, you will probably be looking at either a third, fourth, or fifth-generation car. The third-generation CR-V debuted in the 2007.
In 2007, the CR-V was a game changer for Honda. Gone were the slightly insect-eyed looks of the previous generation. The 3rd-gen was futuristic. This was obvious thanks to the split upper and lower grilles. This was also the first time the CR-V did not come with a rear tailgate-mounted spare tyre.
Over the years, this CR-V has aged very well. It still looks new today as long as it is maintained well. The headlights and the chrome on the lower grille help in that. At the back, the CR-V’s signature Volvo-like vertical taillights still look good. The side chrome accent round the windows gives the car a premium look. However, the plastic side shirts interrupt the smooth bubble design of the car, although they give off the rugged feel.
The interior of the 3rd-gen Honda CR-V, specifically the dashboard, is not something that you would say ‘wow’ to. It is, however, very practical and does not look as old as it actually is. Once you get in, you will be greeted by firm seats. As with every other Honda interior, everything is laid-out in a well thought-out manner.
Materials, despite being all hard-plastics, are all of high build quality. As with most used modern Hondas, there are no creaking sounds, meaning they hold up well. The seats are all comfortable whether in front or in the back. Front seats have seat heaters, which may not be necessary for our weather but a nice touch nonetheless. However, road noises are a bit of a problem at higher speeds.
Engine and driving dynamics
If you were to drive this car with zero badging, Hondas almost always give themselves away with their agile and telepathic responses through the steering wheel and suspension and the CR-V is no different. While performance is not amazing, it is adequate for both city and highway use.
The steering is not too light, which in my opinion is better as you can feel the road more. You may feel some of the bigger bumps from time to time just like everyone else does but the suspension pretty much absorbs most of the roughness on the road. Acceleration is good for driving in the city but will not have you win a “race” on the Entebbe express way.
The first and second generation CR-Vs were not exactly known for good fuel economy. However, the 3rd-gen makes some changes. In the city, you can easily average around 7-8 km/l while on the highway 13.4 km/l.
Power to the front wheels or the rare 4WD version is supplied by Honda’s venerable K-series 2.4L four cylinder, good for 166 horsepower mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
With its sensible size, cheerful interior and capable all-weather drivetrain, the third-gen CR-V checks all the boxes on many buyers’ lists, but the elephant in the room is the Honda brand that is not popular in Uganda. So, you have to deal with low resale value, hunting for service parts and maintenance issues that may not be easily fixable by some mechanics.