Monday, March 25, 2013

Car Review: 2001 Honda CR-V


Pros: Nice car that drives well.
Cons: A few, but they are minor.
The Bottom Line:
Car still driving well
Needs regular maintenance
But all autos do

Still Loving My CR-V

Note: This review was written in 2007.  The only difference is that I now have 173K miles on my car.  Everything else holds true.

When the time came for me to buy a new car, I looked around at many of the small SUV's on the market. I finally settled on the Honda CR-V. The 2001's were just coming out when I bought mine in November of 2000. I've now got 85,000 miles on it and am still happy with my decision.

The 2001 models were the last ones before the redesign in 2002. (And don't get me started on the current model look.) While many people thought the new, sleeker style was better looking, I actually prefer the boxy look of the 2001 year. Some of my friends have mocked it, saying it looks like Barbie's car. But I really don't care.

The interior is great. I've got plenty of room in the driver's seat. At the time I bought my car, I had a roommate who was 6'9". He refused to ride in my old car (a 1984 Honda Accord), but he could fit basically comfortably in the passenger side. Obviously, I don't spend much time in the back seat, but the few times I have been back there, I have noticed how much room there is. I have spent plenty of time in the back seat of many cars, and you've definitely got more room then in smaller vehicles. I've even been in some bigger cars that don't have as much room.

There are seat belts for five people, including three in the back seat. Obviously, that means those in the back seat are a little squished, but it definitely works.

The rear cargo area contains plenty of room for day to day activities. I actually keep several boxes of junk back there no problem. The back seats fold down completely, creating even more storage. I've been able to put a bike back there without taking the bike apart at all. I've used the car to move twice. While you can't get most big furniture in there, it works well for all the boxes of books I had to move.

The car comes equip for camping or a tailgate party. Hidden on the floor of the back storage area is a table that you can take out and set up apart from the car. Additionally, the table covers a sunken area that can be used to as a cooler for drinks. Too be honest, I have never used either of these features, although they certainly sounded cool at the time.

The car came in three different styles, the LX, EX, and SE. I got the LX which was the cheapest. It is the only one of the three to not come with four wheel drive. Additionally, automatic transmission was the only option.

The LX came standard with a radio and tape player. I added a single disc CD player when I bought the car. Some of my friends think the sound system could be better, but it's fine for my needs.

I remember that the SE version came with a leather interior. Mine came with fabric. Almost seven years later, it still looks great.

Even the cheapest model on the road came standard with power doors, windows, and mirrors. Each passenger has control over their individual door, but only the driver has the button that controls all of them. I paid extra and got an alarm with remote lock and unlock, which I love. Likewise, the each passenger can control their own window with the driver having a panel they can use to control all four. Additionally, the windows can be locked so no one, including the driver, can open or close them. The controls for the mirror are quite straightforward. To be honest, I set the mirrors when I bought the car and haven't had a need to touch them since.

The climate control system works fine. The heater especially heats the car up fast once the engine warms up. And the defroster works great. My only real complaint here is that "Off" doesn't really mean off. Even in that position, you can still feel air blowing on you. The only way to truly turn the system off is to hit the recirculate button on the controls.

I have had problems with my air conditioner, but I'm not sure if it is the car's fault or not. I sure think it working fine the first summer I had it. I was in an accident a year after I bought the car, and, despite many attempts to get it to work right again, it hasn't seem quite right to me. It produces plenty of cool air when driving down the freeway, but it doesn't seem to produce much if you are in normal stop and go traffic around town.

Even though there is only room for five passengers, there are six cup holders. There are two in the dashboard, one in each rear door, and two in the folding table between the driver and passenger. None of these will work for super big drinks, but they work for most fast food restaurants drinks.

My biggest complaint about the interior is the passenger side arm rest. Or the lack there of. The driver has one, the back seat passengers have the option of having one if there's no one in the middle, but I had to pay extra (around $200) to add an arm rest for the passenger. Considering how often it gets used, I'm glad I did.

The car includes airbags for the driver and passenger, but nothing on the side or for the back seat. I actually like that since I don't trust airbags.

To be honest, I'm not much of a car guy. As long as it runs, I'm happy. I've been taking very good care of my car, making sure I take it in for all the regular servicing to my Honda dealership. They have begun to find some things wrong with it. The last time I went in, for example, there was a problem with the rear suspension and the oil pan is developing a small leak. Fortunately, these are still covered under my extended warranty. Last year, I had to replace the battery for the first time. I have a feeling with the age and miles on my car, I am in for more repairs. But up until now it has basically been problem free.

I have never tried to do anything other then check the oil and water before a long trip. Both of these are actually harder then they need to be. The water reservoir is long and narrow with the water levels hidden by engine parts. Fortunately, I've never needed to add water. (At least I think I haven't.) The stick to check the oil hides behind a hose. Additionally, the stick is very long and needs to go into a small hole that is almost out of site. I've found that unless I have a flashlight, it's almost impossible to put the dip stick back in place quickly.

The most common complaint I've heard about the car is the power. I'll admit the four cylinder engine could use more pep. I've found that it does pretty well around town. I've beaten smaller cars from a dead stop are red lights, and if I slowly press down on the gas, the car gains speed. The problem comes if I am trying to gain speed quickly or on a hill. The engine downshifts and makes lots of noise. Eventually, I do get the speed I am looking for, and then the engine shifts again. This is something to take into consideration when trying to pass another car on the two lane road, but for most driving situations it really isn't an issue.

While the engine does roar in that situation, it is normally very quiet. On long stretches of road, I can have the car up to 70 or 80 and carry on a normal conversation. A couple weeks ago, I realized I was driving 95. I certainly didn't know by how loud the engine was.

The car comes with power steering, and I've never had a problem handling it. It wasn't a big difference from my 1984 Accord. Despite my confession in the last paragraph, I tend to be a cautious driver, so I take corners relatively slowly, but I have never felt the car was in any danger of tipping.

The one think SUV's are stereotyped for is gas guzzling. That isn't a big problem here. When I kept track of my gas mileage, I found it was just under the manufacturer's claims, low 20's around town and mid 20's on the freeway. It's been a while since I checked, but my rough estimates show it still in that range.

If I could go back in time and chose which car to buy again, I'd pick this one without any hesitation.

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