Used car buying guide Honda CR-V: you should know this about the fourth generation as a used car

If you are looking for a spacious, used SUV

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Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V is an evergreen. The SUV has been an indispensable part of Honda’s portfolio since 1995. In 2023 we are dealing with the fifth generation and the sixth is on its way. The CR-V used for this Koopwijzer dates from generation four.

The Honda CR-V is one of the first crop of compact SUVs, led by the Toyota RAV4 and the Suzuki Vitara, long before European brands realized that this was the segment of the future. We are talking about the second half of the 1990s. Toyota and Honda, together with the Suzuki Vitara and the Subaru Forester, popularized the compact SUV. First with off-road lookalikes, complete with lots of ground clearance, a spare wheel on the back and a rear door hinged to the street. The CR-V even had a picnic table. And as an option there was a shower!

Later on, the CR-V becomes more civilized. From the third series, the tailgate hinges upwards and both the spare wheel on the tailgate and the picnic table are no longer available. Honda leaves the mudding to the thoroughbred off-road vehicles. Over time, the competition for these types of cars grows, with the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Volkswagen Tiguan, Ford Kuga, Opel Antara and the BMW X1, to name a few. The CR-V is one of the bestsellers and is the best-selling crossover worldwide after the RAV4. When this fourth model series arrives in 2012, Honda has already sold five million worldwide.

Last CR-V from Swindon

Halfway through its six-year career, Honda is undergoing a facelift. You can recognize them by a strongly modified front and rear, which are also equipped with chrome frames. Previously, the Euro 5 120 hp 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine has strengthened the ranks, and the 2.2 i-DTEC will make way for the 160 hp 1.6 i-DTEC with bi-turbo in 2015. Which meets the Euro 6 standard. This is the last CR-V to be built in Swindon, UK, before Brexit. No, you don’t have to doubt the quality of the UK Hondas. The Japanese manufacturer has always mastered production at the British factory since its inception in 1979. The current CR-Vs roll off the production line in Japan again and ‘just’ come to Europe by boat.

Unlike other parts of the world, Honda is not working hard in Europe and in the Benelux either. As a result, relatively few potential buyers put the CR-V on their shortlist. After all, unknown makes unloved. In the Netherlands, it therefore loses out to other brands and is just not the wallflower among compact SUVs. Honda specialist (and enthusiast) Autoservice Cor Duiveman from Zeist has prepared a copy from 2014 as an example. Because they are sold relatively little in the Netherlands, he (and many colleagues) often get his used cars from abroad. So is our photo copy, which comes from Germany.

Honda CR-V

This generation of Honda CR-V is also very spacious

Comfortable Runabout Vehicle is the full name of this Honda and it fully lives up to that model designation. In every way he is there to please you. And not just you, your second-row passengers have a great time too, if only because there is no center tunnel. They can also take all their luggage with them, the trunk is that spacious. Incomprehensible only that the valve does not open high enough. Countless owners have bumped their heads against the edge of the valve. You can increase the luggage space to no less than 1,669 liters. You do that with one hand, and you can do that standing next to the rear door or from the trunk. Really clever. Driver and co-driver are royally comfortable. The ergonomics are top notch, the automatic gear lever (the CR-V is also available with a manual gearbox) is at a good height.

Honda CR-V

In the reviews on, this generation of the CR-V is widely praised as a space miracle. A downside is the mediocre infotainment system with its touch controls. The lower plastics in the interior are a nuisance. They are hard and not scratch resistant and that detracts from the feeling of quality. That’s something to check carefully if you’ve spotted a CR-V. It says something about how the previous occupant treated the car.

Honda CR-V

The fourth-generation CR-V is also available with front-wheel drive

As expected, this is not a thoroughbred all-terrain vehicle. The body is self-supporting, the suspension is independent and is firm yet comfortably tuned. The updated, intelligent ‘Real Time’ 4WD improves stability and driving safety. If one of the front wheels loses traction, the transfer case engages the rear wheels. During the test drive, pay attention to whether there are any vibrations going through the car. If that is the case, the rear differential may be damaged by, for example, an improper MOT brake test. A CR-V is not allowed on a brake test bench with rollers, it may only undergo a test on a plate bench. Don’t you have a message for the 4WD? Then you are lucky, because from this fourth generation there is a variant with only front-wheel drive and that has pushed the 4WD version to the background. If you go for an automatic, then you are baked on this version with four-wheel drive.

2.2 i-DTEC ideal as a diesel caravan tractor

The CR-V was supplied with diesels, but they hardly matter – unfortunately. Still, there is something to be said for frequent drivers. Moreover, the 2.2 i-DTEC is an ideal caravan tractor. It is also very economical – many users report 1 in 18 as average consumption – and also super reliable. A broken glow plug occurs occasionally. It’s a shame that this engine has disappeared, during the facelift it was replaced by the small 1.6. A typical example of downsizing that actually works out wrong in practice. Because that 1.6 requires turns on time with exactly the right oil. This is due to the complex lubrication resulting from the twin turbo. Carefully warming up and letting it cool down extends the lifespan. There is also a two-liter i-VTEC petrol engine, but that has a lot to do with the 1,500 kg car. This is partly because the torque peaks late (at 4300 rpm).

Few weaknesses

There is little else wrong with this Honda. With the diesels, the discs sometimes warp, you can feel that in the vibrations in the steering wheel when you brake. When replacing the discs, it is recommended to immediately replace the brake calipers. Then you know for sure that they are common. During the MOT or a service, it may become apparent that the parking brake does not work properly or does not want to release completely. Duiveman then overhauls the brake callipers, for example.

Honda CR-V

The wheel suspension is strong, but due to the rotating and spring parts, frequent drivers can wear the balls at the ends of the connecting elements to the stabilizer, which creates play. Occasionally a spring can break. If that happens, always renew both sides! If you do look at the bottom, you should also check the shock absorbers, drive shaft covers and steering and stub joints.

Third brake light sometimes doesn’t work

Electrical and electronic problems are more common, we read in the reviews. Most important is the third brake light that sometimes refuses to work. This may be a matter of a broken wire between the roof rebate and the tailgate, but it may also be that the expensive unit itself is broken. The rear window wiper also sometimes gives up, as do the parking sensors, something that Autobild colleagues have noticed. Furthermore, in the models with automatic transmission, an error message in the central computer can be remedied by means of a hard reset. You notice it by the sudden lighting up of all kinds of control lights. The ecu with the diesel and a battery that needs to be replaced a little earlier than usual due to a worn alternator are other points that occur. But all in all, there is seriously little wrong with such a CR-V. That’s a good thing, because if something needs to be replaced, you notice how low the turnover rate is by the high part prices. Honda has initiated a few recalls: for example, the Takata airbags were replaced and in a certain series the brake discs, pliers and pads were replaced on about 1,500 cars due to a diameter that was too small.

Feel free to put the CR-V on your list

You can safely put the Honda CR-V on your list if you are considering a crossover. He has remarkably few weak spots, they can even be counted on one hand. Choose the version that suits you best, check whether you really need 4WD and calculate on the basis of your annual mileage whether a diesel is still useful. It doesn’t matter for reliability.


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