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.
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.
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?
The left one is the hand brake!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Updated 3/4/22 with new details.