By Steve & Tamami Laser
We’ve admired the Honda CR-V for a very long time. And we thought about getting one many times over the years. However, our Honda Accord just kept running and running, and so it took a little longer than expected.
Our first CR-V encounter was in Japan, at the press days of the Tokyo Motor Show, way back in Oct. 1995 (above), when the new model was introduced.
Following the show, we visited a Honda Primo dealer in Nagoya to take a closer look at a production model that was fitted with a full roster of accessories (above). Called the “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle,” we decided to put it on our shopping list when it reached America.
As the years went by, we had the chance to test drive every new generation of the CR-V, and we agreed to buy one – in the future. Following a week behind the wheel of the fifth generation, we were so impressed that we called it the “best CR-V ever.” So we finally decided to go shopping (our CR-V is shown above).
The CR-V was so popular (and it still is) that we couldn’t locate the model we wanted, a Touring or EX-L, with All-Wheel Drive. One of the dealers we visited was Ocean Honda in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. (above). Our friendly sales consultant, Nora, and the general manager, Tony, offered to locate the vehicle for us.
The CR-V of our dreams arrived a few weeks later, and we started a three-year lease. Our 2018 CR-V is an EX-L, equipped with Real Time AWD, in our favorite color “Molten Lava Pearl.” We’ve been driving all over SoCal, from L.A. to San Diego, and many points in between. We loaded up our dogs and set out on the road to visit our favorite places.
We drove the CR-V about 12,100 miles during three years, which is less than we planned, mostly due to reduced driving during the coronavirus pandemic (aka COVID-19), when a lot of places were closed. We’re also in the midst of another three-year lease, with our long-term Subaru Forester, and we split our driving between the two crossovers.
We made two runs to San Diego, and several to Hollywood, in addition to our regular visits to cities along the coast. Our favorites include Redondo Beach and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles County, plus Dana Point and San Clemente in Orange County.
This video, from our CarNichiWa.com YouTube Channel, highlights three years driving our CR-V, with visits to some of our favorite places, and also includes our Top 5 CR-V favorites.
We made three visits to our Honda dealer for regular maintenance, including oil changes and tire rotations. Our total out-of-pocket expense for service was $136.29.
Meanwhile, we bought 520.6 gallons of gas, and averaged 23.3 MPG. Our best MPG was 34.1 following a long drive on the freeway. There were no recalls during the first three years.
Now, let’s take a look at our Top 5 Favorites following three years of driving.
We’ve driven many turbocharged vehicles over the years, yet the CR-V is the first one that we’ve owned (perhaps we should say “leased”). Whether we’re climbing the steep hills in our neighborhood, or merging into fast-moving traffic on the freeway, we like the responsive 1.5-liter turbo-4, that’s rated at 190 horsepower and 179 lbs.-ft. of torque.
Unlike some other turbocharged vehicles, the CR-V has virtually no turbo “lag” (hesitation) during hard acceleration. The engine is teamed with a Continuously Variable Transmission that includes a sports setting. We often shift into “S” when going up and down the steep hills in our neck of the woods.
All Wheel Drive
We liked the traction-enhancing benefits of All-Wheel Drive that we experienced in our previous Subaru Outback, plus our current Subaru Forester. So we’re really glad to have a CR-V with AWD. As we explain in our video, we don’t drive off-road very often, yet we like the stable feeling and added traction that AWD provides on both wet and completely dry surfaces.
With Honda’s Real Time AWD, our CR-V can transfer up to 40 percent of torque to the rear wheels when needed. And we can monitor torque transfer using the multi-information display in the instrument cluster.
The more time we spend in our CR-V, the more we appreciate the comfortable seats. In addition to providing great support on longer trips, the driver’s seat includes an integrated memory system that memorizes seating positions for two drivers.
We also like the power lumbar support and the heated seat feature. We do wish, however, that the power front passenger’s seat had a height adjustment (like the one in our Subaru Forester).
The flexible 60/40-split rear seat lets us carry longer items inside the car, like a surfboard. And our dogs have made the rear seat their home away from home. We bought an aftermarket “hammock” that protects the seat, plus a nice cozy bed to help them enjoy the ride.
Speaking of comfort and convenience, we really enjoy the 7-inch Display Audio system. With Apple CarPlay® we can connect our iPhone to the system via the lightning cable that came with the phone. The familiar icons appear on the screen, and we can make selections by touch, or by voice, using Siri.
The CR-V has a compact exterior with a cavernous cargo compartment. Thanks to its “boxy” design, there’s plenty of space for gear, groceries, containers, or suitcases. To help protect the floor, we bought a set of all-season floor mats and a cargo tray from Genuine Honda Accessories.
Access to the cargo compartment is easier thanks to the power tailgate. We can open and close the gate using a button on the dashboard, a set of switches on the tailgate, or by pressing a button on the keyless remote.
We’ve owned a lot of cars over the years, and there’s usually something unexpected that happens during the first three years. While we don’t officially “own” this leased model, we’re glad to report that the CR-V has been the most reliable vehicle of them all.
Our regular routine is to just add gas when needed, check the oil level regularly, and go to our dealer when the Maintenance Minder tells us that it’s time for service.
We Extended Our Lease for Another Year
We had a tough decision to make before the end of our 3-year lease: Should we return the CR-V and get a different vehicle, extend our lease for another year, or buy it and make it a permanent member of our family?
The CR-V has been a great vehicle for us and we still love it. Meanwhile, we would like to put more miles on it and see if it continues to be reliable. So, we decided to extend our lease for another year.
Visit the following links for our additional CR-V long-term review stories:
The 2018 CR-V in this story is privately leased by the editor of CarNichiWa.com
Story and video © 2021 CarNichiWa.com Photos © 2018-2021 CarNichiWa.com Historical CR-V photos © 1995 Steve Laser