Public Domain

Is a Used Honda CR-V a Good, Reliable Car?

Did you know that even though the Honda CR-V was designed to be Honda's first sport utility vehicle, it was originally billed as a luxury automobile? In 1995, when the Honda CR-V first hit the streets, it was exclusive to Japanese markets, which have strict regulations on dimensions and their classifications. The wide set platform of the model required the CR-V to be sold as a luxury vehicle.

Although this was a bureaucratic designation, anyone who's test driven a CR-V knows that it is also a fitting start for Honda's spacious, comfortable sport utility cruiser. In this post, we'll go over the pros and cons of buying a used or certified pre-owned Honda CR-V and we'll breakdown some of the best-tested models to consider.

General Honda CR-V Pros and Cons

The Honda CR-V has always held certain standards close to heart. Similarly, most CR-V models share a couple of common set of mostly minor complaints. We'll knock those out here and then get more specific for each recommended model.

The Pros

Honda CR-Vs have always handled well despite their size. They drive much like a smaller sport utility vehicle while maintaining a spacious interior. The CR-V finds plenty of passenger and cargo space. The CR-V has also always been known for its great gas mileage, which often outperforms more expensive competitors. In addition, Honda CR-Vs have always scored extremely well with regard to safety and crash test ratings.

One thing to love about the CR-V is it's diverse trim levels. You can purchase most Honda CR-V model years in the standard LX trim or the upgraded EX, EX-L and Touring trims. Keep in mind that the "L" in Honda CR-V EX-L stands for leather if that is something you would prefer. Each level of trim offers something unique such as leather seats, alloy wheels, exterior colors, interior colors, all-wheel drive and navigation systems.

You can always count on Honda CR-V models to last. They generally hold up very well long-term. And lastly, because they do hold up so well and because they are so popular, and unlike many used vehicles, you can always find a used or certified pre-owned Honda CR-V whether you're in Chicago or Tokyo.

The Cons

The Honda CR-V is never going to be what you might call a premium vehicle. While it will generally outperform vehicles at a similar price point, there is always going to be something better for a few thousand dollars more. Some materials used on Honda CR-Vs might appear somewhat cheaply made for similar reasons, as well.

Several models, especially earlier ones, seem to have underpowered engines for a vehicle of this size. There's still no word on a release date for the long-awaited Hybrid CR-V (read more).

The Top-Preowned Honda Models

Since each generation of a model can be very different, we are going to break down the top CR-V models you might want to consider. Each of these models brought something new to the Honda CR-V, so be sure to look into each body-style.

First Generation Honda CR-V

The first generation of any popular vehicle is going to garner some style points, and that's exactly what you get with the instant classic Honda CR-V, which still included the side open rear hatch with a mounted spare tire. Va-rooom.

How could this first-gen get any cooler? Two words: picnic table. The 1995-97 Honda CR-V had a built-in stow-away picnic table under its removable seats—gotta love the 90s. Virtually every other model of CR-V will be more reliable and easier to find, however, so check out the next two used Honda CR-V models if you're more interested in functionality than style.

Pre-owned 1994-97 Honda CR-V


  • Skipping several levels of hipness on your journey to become more like Jeremy Clarkston.
  • Affordable.


  • Not offered in EX, EX-L or Touring trims.
  • No cruise control.
  • The 1995-97 CR-V will be worse in almost every other way compared to more modern CR-V models.
  • Good luck finding one.

Pre-owned 2010 Honda CR-V

The 2010 CR-V was also quite the looker. It included updates to the interior, hood, grille, front and rear bumper, wheels and taillights. It also updated the user interface and enabled blue tooth and USB-connected devices. The 2010 Honda CR-V might be perfect for you, but you should always take a close look at the pros and cons of a vehicle before buying.


  • The Honda 2010 is an exceptionally safe vehicle. On top of handling well in tight situations for an SUV, it also boasts some impressive crash statistic for a 2010 model.
  • The 2010 CR-V comes in LX, EX, EX-L and EX-L with Navigation trim levels.


  • Loud on roads and highways.

Pre-owned 2015 Honda CR-V

The biggest update to the CR-V came in 2015 when the engine, transmission and fuel systems were upgraded to well above industry standards. The EPA fuel economy of the 2015 CR-V, in particular, was boosted to top-in-class in this model and outperformed much of the Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Kia and even BMW competition at the time.

In addition, safety features were upgraded to include forward collision warning and automatic emergency brake. The 2015 Honda CR-V is an outstanding model, but you should be aware of all the up and downsides before you start typing "Honda CR-V for sale" into your browser.


  • Keep in mind that a new model is usually going to be inherently superior in several ways. It will, of course, have less wear and tear, as well as engine mileage.
  • But it will also have an updated body style that is much safer and up to date on manufacturing regulations. The body style might also have an effect on the gas mileage, another area that newer models are going to shine where older ones just can't keep up.
  • Don't forget that this Honda CR-V model includes the updated direct injected engine and CVT transmission. The brake booster that was new to the 2015 model also increased performance noticeably beyond other fourth generation CR-Vs.
  • You'll also get about 3-4 more miles per gallon with the 2015 Honda CR-V.
  • The 2015 CR-V also comes in LX, EX, EX-L and EX-L with Navigation trim levels.


  • This has remained a problem up to the current 2019 model, so the touchscreen is probably an area that Honda is looking to save a bit of money and help keep the CR-V price point affordable.
  • If you get the 2015 model you're missing out on the spiffy new CR-V SE trim by only one year.

If you chose one of these models for the reasons outlined, you'll almost certainly be happy with the model, whether you're looking for a standard Honda CR-V LX or a fully outfitted Honda CR-V EX-L. But there are still plenty of options to consider! Now that you know the essentials, start thinking about what extras or colors you might be willing to shell out some extra cash for. The alabaster silver is pretty sleek, and you can't go wrong with crystal black pearl, white diamond pearl or basque red pearl II.

You might also consider a certified pre-owned to ensure that your vehicle has gone through a process of refurbishment. Now get out there for a test drive! Do you disagree with any of these options or know of another outstanding CR-V or Crossover SUV model? Leave a comment below and share your opinions with our Facebook community.

Watch: Monster Jam Is the High-Octane Experience of a Lifetime