This model year marks the end of the line for this generation. The third comes out this fall, but Honda, trying to keep buyers interested in the current model, won't say a word about the new one.What Honda has done is bundle up a special edition with leather and all the factory options for $26,000.
I've just finished a week in the SE model, which comes with a five-speed automatic transmission, Real Time (on-demand) four-wheel drive, moonroof, leather-trimmed interior, body color trim and a hard-shell spare tire cover.
And you can get it in pewter pearl paint and a black interior that is not offered on the other CR-Vs.
Also standard is its exemplary crash test ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it five-star ratings for frontal impact resistance for driver and passenger, five stars for side impact and four stars for rollover.
Four-wheel disc brakes include ABS and electronic brake force distribution.
The base LX two-wheel drive has a starting price of $20,945, which includes a five-speed automatic transmission (a manual isn't available); add $1,200 for on-demand four-wheel drive. The top-line EX 4WD with five-speed manual is $23,400, or $24,120 with the automatic.
Applying body color trim and leather interior to a CR-V is like getting dressed up to mow the grass. But the SE treatment does make a fashionable around-town driver.
Honda is the master at packaging, and the CR-V is as functional a SUV as ever conceived. Honda is still the only maker to have a cargo floor that doubles as a picnic table.
The boxy body shape seems dated now, but it does allow for unobstructed sightlines, a roomy interior and a tiny 33.8-foot turning circle. Compare that to the Chevy Equinox at nearly 42 feet and the Ford Escape at 35.4.
There are more storage areas throughout than an owner can use, but it shows the can-do engineering. I like the flip-up center console tray table between the front seats, which gives vanlike access to the back seat.
Kids are well cared for in the back seat area, with tall glass and seat height for visibility. The flat second-row floor is another smart idea that gives more foot-room for passengers to spread out a bit. The second-row seats have fore-aft adjustment and recline.
The 156-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine has plenty of kick to heft its 3,500 pounds. And it gives good fuel economy at 22 mpg city and 27 highway, on 87 octane.
Count on Honda to preserve all these good features on the next model. The biggest effort will have to be in re-sculpting its utilitarian shape. I'm betting the new body style will have family traits from the Ridgeline pickup.
SIDEBAR: SPECS BOX
2006 Honda CR-V 4WD SE
Body style: Compact, 5-passenger SUV
Engine: 156-hp, 2.4-liter DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed automatic with grade logic
EPA fuel economy estimates: 22 mpg city, 27 highway; 87 octane recommended
Length/wheelbase: 181/103.3 inches
Curb weight: 3,494 pounds
Standard equipment: Remote locking, air conditioning, power moonroof, 6-speaker 6-disc CD audio system with steering wheel controls, power windows-locks-mirrors, drivers seat height adjustment, folding center console tray table, 60/40 split back seat with fore-aft adjustment, fold-down rear center armrest, visor vanity mirrors, cargo area tie-down anchors, grocery bag hooks, removable picnic table, cruise control, floor mats
SE features: Leather trimmed seats, heated front seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, heated side mirrors, body-colored exterior trim and spare tire cover, 16-inch tires and alloy wheels
Safety equipment: Front dual-stage air bags, dual front side air bags, side curtain air bags with rollover sensor, vehicle stability assist
Base: $26,000; price as tested
Options on test car: none
Where assembled: Japan
PLUSES: Easy driving attitude, good visibility for all, overkill on the storage areas, but love the picnic table.
MINUSES: Dated styling. Kind of glitzy for a working-class SUV.
Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at [email protected]