The Honda CR-V was first introduced to the United States market for the 1997 model year. It was Honda's first company-produced mid-sized crossover SUV, and it was a successful venture from the start. As of 2011, two major redesigns and several smaller tweaks along the way mean the CR-V stays current in providing the style and capabilities consumers want.
First Generation Models
When the CR-V arrived in the U.S. in 1997, it came in only one model. When a second model was added in 1998, the original package was dubbed the LX, and the newer one the EX. The significant difference between the two models was the anti-lock brake system added to the EX, and neither package even hinted at anything luxurious. Those upscale touches appeared for the 2000 model year in the SE, or Special Edition, package, which included leather interior, an AM/FM/cassette/CD stereo system, chrome grille accents and a hard exterior spare-tire cover. The 2001 CR-V offered the same three models as the 2000.
After a major redesign, the CR-V was back to two models for 2002. Honda continued the LX designation for the base two-wheel-drive package and EX for the higher level, which added four-wheel drive, side airbags and an in-dash six-CD changer with six speakers. These features remained unchanged until 2005, when side airbags became standard on all models and another SE package added the luxury of leather heated front seats, leather interior trim, heated mirrors and body-colored exterior trim. The EX model also received an outside temperature gauge and the convenience of audio controls on the steering wheel in 2005. All CR-Vs remained unchanged in 2006.
The 2007 CR-V made its debut with substantial exterior changes and a sleeker, more aerodynamic look. Buyers could choose among three trim levels: the LX, the EX or the new designation of EX-L, which replaced the term SE. Nifty new features available even on the LX model included an auxiliary input jack and a sunglasses holder with a mirror that allowed the driver to monitor back-seat passengers. A removable, folding hard shelf added double-tier cargo-carrying ability on the EX model. The EX-L model had the SE's luxury interior, plus XM Satellite Radio and an optional navigation system. These models stayed the same for 2008 and 2009, with the exception of dual-zone climate control for the EX-L in 2008. In 2010, the EX-L with Navigation gained its own designation.
Four Models for 2011
For 2011, Honda expanded the CR-V line to four models, slipping the SE designation between the base LX package and the higher level EX. The SE package offered rear privacy glass, alloy wheels and steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls. The EX model added a moonroof, dual-deck cargo shelf and security system. At the top of the line, the EX-L level carried over many of the features from 2010, but added power-adjustable lumbar support to the driver's seat and USB audio interface capability. It was also still the only CR-V with the optional navigation system.
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