The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think

Illustration for article titled The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think
Photo: Honda

When enough time passes, what was once mundane can become interesting. The plastic-fantastic Star Trek-shuttle shaped Honda CR-V of the 2000s has now crossed that threshold. It was popular in its day for practicality, now I think it’s actually pretty cool.

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The interestingness of the 2002-2006 CR-V is something I’ve been pondering for months. The spark first hit me when I saw one with a sense of humor street parked in Westwood last year.

At first, I was like, hey that’s funny. Then I started seeing more of these in traffic and decided I really like them now.

Illustration for article titled The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think
Photo: Honda

Besides the ready-for-action unpainted bumpers–by “action” I mean wayward shopping carts–this CR-V’s defining features included a humble-but-efficient VTEC engine, a rear-mounted tire carrier (always helps with cool points as far as I’m concerned), manual transmission option (hell yeah), and the only instance I’m aware of where a handbrake lever has been significantly integrated into interior design.

See the two grab-handle columns above the climate controls?

Illustration for article titled The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think
Photo: Honda
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The left one is the hand brake!

Illustration for article titled The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think
Photo: Honda
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Neat, right?

Other fun folding features of this CR-V included a center console that folded off to the side, seats that reclined way the hell down, and rear glass that could be opened independently of the back door. I really like the passenger-side dashboard shelf, too.

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This vehicle was a huge part of America’s s second wave of crossovers, which we were all still calling “compact SUVs” back then. The gen two CR-V’s performance and rough-terrain capabilities were generally unremarkable–it was really just a tall body on a Civic platform, after all–but mpgs in the mid-20s is still decent for something shaped like this and these generally lived up to Honda’s rep for exceptional reliability.

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Illustration for article titled The Second-Gen Honda CR-V Is Pretty Cool Now I Think
Photo: Honda

At some point in its lifecycle, the second-gen CR-V classed it up with painted bumpers but I’m all about the naked plastic, myself.

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I’m not saying that these are future collectibles or undiscovered gems, but if I ever came across a clean five-speed, I don’t know. I’d be tempted to buy it and find out what it could do with a decent set of tires. You’re certainly never going to have a hard time finding parts or a mechanic who’s familiar with the things and could probably easily keep it alive for a very long time.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

DISCUSSION

stephen-macarthur
Stephen

My parents got one of these in 2002, right when they came out. They insisted on getting one with AWD and a manual, much to the dealer’s dismay (he wanted to sell them one off the lot, all of which were automatic).

In the end, they got a green one with stick. Apart from the A/C exploding and fighting Honda on the warranty, it served them fairly well for 14 years until it got rear-ended.

Some other neat tricks of that CR-V:

- it had a removable picnic table under the rear cargo floor

- 1st gear was pretty short. You could induce 1st gear oversteer with sufficient throttle and steering angle.

- the body roll and handling sucked

- the integrated hand brake was definitely cool

PS - the fuel cutoff is around 115mph.