Compact SUV; Built in Japan
  • 4-door wagon
  • transverse front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $2,800 – $6,000*

1998 Honda CR-V

1998 Honda CR-V

1997 Honda CR-V interior

1997 Honda CR-V interior

1997 Honda CR-V

  • Entry/exit
  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Acceleration
  • Rear-seat comfort

Except for a lack of power, the CR-V almost approaches perfection. As it stands, this is a handy and well-built compact wagon with carlike manners and a 4WD system that never needs to be thought about. Even though it can’t match the space or brawn of bigger SUVs, Honda’s CR-V is clearly the nicest of the “baby-size” 4x4s.


Whereas most SUVs use truck-type body-on-frame construction with a solid rear axle, the CR-V employed carlike unibody construction and a 4-wheel independent suspension. At 103.1 inches, the CR-V wheelbase was 8.2 inches longer than that of the similar 4-door Toyota RAV4, but 8.4 inches shorter than the span of a 4-door Ford Explorer. Overall length, at 176.4 inches, was 14.4 inches longer than the RAV4 but 12.1 inches shorter than the Explorer. A side-opening tailgate and externally mounted spare tire were installed. Beneath the hood was a dual-overhead-cam 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, rated at 126 horsepower and driving a 4-speed automatic transmission. Honda called its standard 4-wheel-drive system “Real-Time 4WD.” Most engine power normally went to the front wheels, but a portion could be distributed to the back wheels when sensors indicated that the front tires were losing traction. No low-range gearing was installed. Seating for five and dual airbags were standard. Mounting the gear selector on the steering column instead of the floor permitted a narrow access path between the front seats.

Yearly Updates

1998 CR-V
Midyear brought a front-wheel-drive model to join the 4WD wagon, with a standard 5-speed manual transmission and optional automatic.
1999 CR-V
The CR-V engine gained 20 horsepower this year. New lighted power window switches were installed, as were rear-door cupholders. An overdrive on-off switch was added to the automatic transmission’s column-mounted selector lever.
2000 CR-V
Except for one new paint color, nothing was new for 2000.
2001 CR-V
Rear child-seat tethers were the only notable change for 2001. A new model was waiting in the wings.


transverse front-engine/front- or 4-wheel drive

Only one engine has been available: a 2.0-liter dual-overhead-cam 4-cylinder that made 126 horsepower (boosted to 146 horsepower for 1999). Only an automatic transmission was offered at first, but later CR-Vs might have 5-speed manual shift or the 4-speed automatic transmission.

dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/122
Engine HP 126-146
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 126-133
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed manual
4-speed automatic

Road Test

Performance is not a “plus” with the CR-V, at least with an automatic transmission. Acceleration to 60 mph in an early model with automatic took a leisurely 11.3 seconds, with only the driver aboard. Manual shift cuts about a second from that figure. Go-power sags even further when climbing steep upgrades, or with a full load. Overall gas mileage of 19.7 mpg fell short of expectations, too.

CR-V is pleasantly (and predictably) carlike to drive. Wind noise is unusually well-suppressed at cruising speeds, and tire sounds are minor. Even though the engine begins to boom above 4000 rpm or so, it’s never throbby or irritating. Body lean ranks as modest through tight turns, so the CR-V can be tossed around much like any small wagon. Ride comfort is generally good, but some road undulations result in an annoying tendency to wheel-hop.

Head and leg room are ample, but three adults don’t fit comfortably in back. Step-in is low despite an 8-inch ground clearance, so entry/exit is easy, although rear doors are narrow for larger people. Though rather buslike, the driving stance is accommodating, thanks to a standard tilt steering wheel and manual seat-height adjuster. The column-mounted shifter sits awkwardly behind the wiper stalk, but otherwise the driving environment is simple and convenient–quite similar to riding in a Civic.

The CR-V’s 50/50 split rear seat can fold down to form a flat load floor. With the seat in use, you have space for about 10 grocery bags. Cargo bay access isn’t the best, however, as you have to get past an external spare-tire carrier, glass liftgate, and swing-out tailgate.

Solid, rattle-free construction has been evident during test drives, even when rolling through rough surfaces. Panel fit and paint finish have been excellent, inside and out.


Model Tested: 1998 Honda CR-V w/auto

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 3
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 5
Steering/Handling - 4
Quietness - 3


Controls/Materials - 5
Room/Comfort Front - 4
Room/Comfort Rear - 3
Cargo Room - 7


Value - 5

Total: 45


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
103.1 176.4 68.9 65.9
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
34.3 15.3 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.5 39.2 41.5 36.7
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 1999 CR-V 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 4
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision 74
Injury 91
Theft 63

Trouble Spots

Description: The ABS light comes on because one (or both) of the rear-wheel speed sensors fails. Revised sensors are available to replace them. (1997)
Description: The power mirrors were not properly sealed to the body on some vehicles causing wind noise. (1997)
Description: The fog light housing is prone to cracking and, when this happens, the lens falls out. (1997)
Check-engine light
Description: “Check Engine” light may glow on vehicles used where salt is used on the roads because the EVAP solenoid fails. (1998-01)

Recall History

Description: Improperly routed under-dash wire harness on some vehicles could be damaged by contact with brake-light switch, possibly resulting in blown fuse.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.