Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Used Car Review - Honda CR-V (1997-2001)

There is such saying that there are "oldies but goodies" existing in this world. But for this week's used car feature, this vehicle is to blame for the booming of the compact SUV market in the 90's. If you're clueless on what vehicle Myk Belmonte is referring to, read on and you'll be surprised.

1997-2001 Honda CR-V

Compact SUV's had entered the Philippine market prior to 1997, but none of them were market-innovative. The Daihatsu Feroza and the Suzuki Vitara were too much hardcore, the Toyota RAV4 (released months earlier than the CR-V) was too cute, the Kia Sportage was not received warmly by motorists since Kia is synonymous for its Pride and Besta, their best sellers back in the 90's; and the Nissan Terrano was too much truckish. So, the CR-V did have car riding capability and comfort (it was based on the EK Honda Civic), the height of a truck, and the famed Honda reliability.

Introduced in the latter months of 1997, the Honda CR-V was much of a success for Honda Cars Philippines. It had innovations that were imitated and made standard by the competition such as a switchless 4x4 (dubbed as the real-time four wheel drive system) that engages the rear wheels once it's front loses grip, a cargo mat in the rear that doubles as a picnic mat (perfect for its intended market), and even it's 2-DIN stereo system that has blinking effects which wowed its occupants (and inspired the aftermarket arena).

Do take note that only a four wheel drive drivetrain is made available throughout the first gen's (codenamed RD1) life. The four wheel drive powertrain activates the front wheels at most times. A front wheel drive variant is made available on the 2002-2006 Honda CR-V (which will be reviewed in a later article).

Value and Costs
Someone who desires on purchasing a second hand first-generation CR-V would encounter units priced from P260,000-P400,000. One good thing about the CR-V is parts are aplenty from the genuine, third party, and replacement ones. The resale value is on the higher side though, due to the image that Honda gained during that period. There are Japanese converted first generation CR-Vs on the market and without warning, must be avoided. Sometime in 2000, a limited edition Sound Cruiser was released with roof mounted speakers and subwoofers.

One must check the real-time four-wheel-drive system if it functions properly. Since its bearings can get worn down, and the rear differential's automatic-transmission fluid can dry up. The driver-side power window is a weak link, needing a replacement earlier than expected. Suspension bushings must be watched keenly, particularly the rear trailing arms, which can be worn out. And similar to Honda's of that generation, cooling the engine must be done carefully, since the auxiliary fan can exhibit wear and tear due to age and mileage factors. One good thing about the first generation CR-V is its maintenance level is similar to a 1996-2000 Civic, same goes with its driving dynamics.

Exterior and Interior
Age notwithstanding, the CR-V possesses that contemporary and timeless look. Those who have an eye-for detail might agree that the first-generation CR-V and the Toyota Rush/Daihatsu Terios look similar, although the latter two in a smaller scale. Exterior extras include two pairs of roof rails and its spare tire is located at the back. I recommend placing a tire cover for the spare tire, to protect it from various elements. Another feature is the easy-access tailgate that opens wide (sideways) to allow easy cargo hauling. However, the rear glass window must be unlocked first; this is a challenge for those who are used to an integrated rear door.

The interior has the simplicity of the Civic, with controls perfectly laid out. There is an abundance of headroom, legroom and knee room for its passengers and even the driver gets a commanding view outside. When folded, the cargo room can accommodate large, bulky items such as bicycles, a month's worth of groceries and a coffee table; albeit similar to the present day Jazz. As mentioned earlier, the cargo mat doubles as a picnic mat, and is washable.

Two engine options were made available to the locally sold CR-V. From 1997 to early 1999, a B2OB 1,973cc engine with 126hp at 5,400rpm and 130Nm at 4,300rpm was made standard. The B2OB engine emphasized maximization of low-end torque. A revision made in mid-1999 had the revised B20Z engine under its hood. The revised engine had 150hp at 6,300rpm and 180Nm at 4,500rpm, which is adequate enough to carry the bulk, since the earlier models were underpowered. Two transmission options are available for pairing to both standard engines, a 5-speed manual transmission and a 4-speed automatic transmission, which resides behind the steering wheel.

Driving Impressions
Think of the first-generation Honda CR-V as an EK Civic on stilts. Yes, thanks to its car-based platform, the CR-V is a joy to drive, with comfort matching its sedan counterpart. Come to think of it, the CR-V is a perfect companion whether for out of town trips, or urban escapades, in good or bad weather. Its successors didn't match the RD1's riding comfort.

Old as it may be, the CR-V is one classic and the one that pioneered the compact-SUV market. It breaks the stereotype of what an SUV should be. Its fuel efficiency can be a turn off to some but those wanting an SUV that has a car-like comfort with a clearance of an SUV, this is one of the best options out there, and not to forget, an affordable one. This has the potential to compete with the modern ones.

The Good:
  • Sedan handling
  • Ground clearance - good for flooded roads
  • Spacious cargo area
The Bad:
  • No 2WD variant
  • Guzzles gas like there's no tomorrow
  • Complicated rear glass hatch
The Pick: Mid-1999-2001 models. They get the powerful B20Z engine

Engine: 1,973cc B2OB and B2OZ I4 gasoline
Power: 126hp @ 5,400rpm (B2OB), 150hp @ 6,300rpm (B2OZ)
Torque: 130Nm @ 4,300rpm (B2OB), 180Nm @ 4,500rpm (B2OZ)
Fuel Consumption: 6-8km/L (city), 8-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic
Suspension: Front and rear independent wishbone

Price (New):  P840,000-P1,050,000 (range from 1997-2001)
Price (Now):  P260,000-P400,000
Rivals: Kia Sportage, Nissan Terrano, Suzuki Vitara, Toyota RAV4
On Sale: 1997-2001

Honda Cars Quezon City - 712-6850
Honda Cars Pasig - 988-1288
Honda Cars Kalookan - 366-5701

Photos by Myk Belmonte
CR-V unit provided by Guadix Auto Exchange

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