The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide 2004

As part of the APA`s aim to empower you, the consumer , by giving you the facts you need to make informed decisions, we`ve published The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide 2004.
Written by APA president George Iny and the APA staff, we`ve brought all our expertise on automobiles together into one book, 600-plus pages packed with up-to-date and detailed information on buying, owning, and selling a used vehicle.

The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide 2004 offers:

  • reliable advice on how to buy and maintain a used vehicle
  • performance, reliability, comfort and safety ratings to tell you the models between 1993 and 2002 that represent the best investment for your hard-earned dollar
  • a guide to how much you can expect to pay for the car you want
  • court decisions that may help you if you`re stuck with a lemon
  • APA Alerts that will save time and money on repairs to the car you own, including recall information and warranty extensions

Find clear and current information on used cars of all makes and models, minivans, and compact and mid-size SUVs. Lively, authoritative and comprehensive, The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide is the definitive reference to help you choose the vehicle that fits your needs and budget.
HarperCollins / $27.95 / 634 pages / ISBN 0006391338

Buying the book: We encourage you to buy The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide at your local independent bookstore.


Honda CR-V (1997-2002)
APA rating:
Above Average
Body Style: 4-door wagon
Engine: 2.0L 4-cylinder (1997-2001) / 2.4L i-VTEC 4-cylinder (2002)
Transmissions: 5-speed manual / 4-speed automatic/all-wheel drive
Fuel Consumption: 2000 model: with either transmission: 11.0L/100km (26mpg)


The Civic-based CR-V is in many ways an extension of Honda’s classic Civic Wagon of 1984, which was also available with Honda’s Real-Time four-wheel-drive. TheCR-V was largely unchanged until a new model was introduced in 2002.

The CR-V is not based on a truck chassis like some of the smaller sport-utility vehicles, but uses the monocoque platform of a Honda Civic. At introduction in 1997, the CR-V’s 2.0L in-line four-cylinder engine developed 126 horsepower and sent its power to the wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission. As with the Real-Time four-wheel-drive system in the Civic of the 1980s, the CR-V’s power is sent through the front wheels unless they detect slippage, when power is sent to the rear wheels as well. In 1998 the automatic transmission was joined by a five-speed manual gearbox, and in 1999 horsepower jumped from 126 to 146. The engine in the second-generation 2002 CR-V is a new 2.4L i-VTEC four producing 160 horsepower. The 2002 CR-V is once again primarily front-wheel drive, with Honda`s Real-Time all-wheel drive coming into play when slip is detected. A five-speed manual transmission and a four-speed automatic are offered.

The CR-V is a clean-lined vehicle that looks modern and tidy. Its size neatly plugs the gap between the “Sport-Cutes" like the Toyota RAV4 and near-leviathans like the Ford Explorer. Unit construction obviates the need for a separate frame and allows the CR-V to have both good ground-clearance and a reasonable step-in height. The interior of the CR-V is roomy for its size, and you sit high up on large, comfortable seats front and rear. The interior styling and ergonomics are both fine and the interior is well presented. In the automatic CR-V the steering-column-mounted shift lever leaves the space between the seats clear. The CR-V’s spare tire is carried on its tailgate, which allows the ample cargo hold to be free of obstructions but requires swinging it away when you open the tailgate. There is a folding picnic table under the load bed, as well as a watertight compartment for the storage of fish or wet sports gear. The tailgate is one of the few areas where the CR-V can be criticized; it eschews the regular flip-up hatchback design for a less convenient arrangement with a flip-up rear window and a side-hinged tailgate that swings out like a regular door. As is usual for Honda, the CR-V is carefully assembled of quality components inside and out, and it’s rattle-free.

The second-generation CR-V is one of the very best vehicles in the "cute-ute" segment. In appearance, the 2002 model breaks no new ground, but still looks very contemporary. Build quality is superior, with tight panel gaps and a good paint job. The interior is very space efficient, containing 10 percent greater volume within the same exterior dimensions as before. It offers abundant room for passengers front and rear, and a very deep cargo area. Honda`s 50/50 split fold-and-tumble rear seats allow for flexibility, a low cargo floor, and proper-height, comfortable rear seat cushions. Interior design is ergonomically sound, with clear dials and logical controls that operate smoothly. There are a few eccentricities. The automatic transmission lever sprouts out of the dashboard, at the right of the steering wheel, and the handbrake, positioned on the left side of the center stack, looks like a grab handle. Locating the transmission shifter and handbrake high and out of the way leaves the floor clear of obstructions. Front seat occupants can walk to the rear, or swing a collapsible tray hinged to the passenger seat into place between them. The cabin is carefully assembled from attractive materials. The cabin of the base LX model is essentially finished to the standard of the pricier EX, so unless you want the extra equipment, there is no reason to upgrade. What look like bumpers on the CR-V are just styling elements that provide little or no protection when they come into contact with something.

Given that the CR-V is essentially a wagon on stilts, it is not surprising that it drives very much like a small minivan. Steering, handling and ride are all to reasonably high standards, and the CR-V is a pleasant vehicle to spend time in. Performance in the city with just the driver aboard borders on sprightly, but a fully loaded CR-V trying to maintain speed up a mountain needs a heavy foot on the accelerator. The extra 20 horsepower added to the 2.0L engine in 1999 were welcome. Though it is not the quickest vehicle around, it is reasonably refined, with a smooth-running four that does not begin to sound rough until it’s spinning faster than 4000 rpm - which it seldom does, even in fast cruising. Despite the tall upright body, wind noise is acceptable, and road noise is much better suppressed than in the RAV4 and Suzuki four-wheel-drives. The CR-V is a front-wheel-drive vehicle most of the time, but if the front wheels detect a loss of traction, the truck’s computer instructs the CR-V to send power to the rear wheels as well. This transfer of power requires no input by the driver and is totally seamless in operation. However, the system is slow to respond and was judged inferior to the RAV4 and part-time four-wheel-drive of the Suzuki in APA winter testing. While not able to navigate raging creeks and mountain tracks like some sport-utes, the CR-V provides what most people want - a tall wagon with a semi-rugged appearance and good winter traction. It avoids the poor driving dynamics, cramped quarters and poor gas mileage of many truck-based sport-utes. The second-generation CR-V adds Honda`s new i-VTEC system, which adjusts the intake camshaft phase according to engine load, to Honda`s established VTEC system. At 2.4L, the CR-V`s engine is large for a four, and that capacity combines with the i-VTEC system to create a smooth, torquey and flexible powerplant. Those who would dismiss the CR-V because it is only a "four" are often astonished by its competence. The engine works very well with both Honda`s slick-shifting manual transmission and the decisive automatic. Acceleration is strong, comparing favourably with V6 rivals, and economy is reasonable. In APA comparison testing, the 2002 CR-V with a manual transmission was as quick as a V6 automatic, a V6 automatic Jeep Liberty, and only a little slower than a V8 Ford Explorer! Despite being based on the disappointing 2001 Civic chassis, the CR-V rides, handles and steers well, with the sense of control and immediacy Honda is known for. The all-wheel drive is slow to react on slippery surfaces, but does provide effective traction for taking off on ice or deep snow. The CR-V is effectively an all-weather car, not a backroads SUV.

Resale values are strong; a used CR-V is easy to sell in urban markets because used-car buyers have recognized its virtues. Many used CR-Vs are now coming off leases but values are strong enough that lessees are selling their CR-Vs themselves for a couple of thousand dollars over the lease-end residual value -- that`s exceptional in the current leasing environment. Many people cross-shop the CR-V with the Toyota RAV4; model for model, they draw similar money for vehicles of equal age and condition, but the first generation CR-V is more vehicle for the money than a first-generation RAV4. The Subaru Forester is a viable alternative to the CR-V, but curiously, relatively few CR-V intenders consider it.

Reliability: Above average. The mechanical components shared with other Honda products have been reliable. The plastic in the lower front bumper cracks easily in minor impacts. Weak rear differential (change the oil at 30 000 km or 48 000 km at the latest, to prevent Honda from refusing to honour the warranty if it fails).
What to check: Front rotors (warped), sway bar links (broken).
Safety: The CR-V has had dual airbags and ABS as standard equipment since inception. The 1999 CR-V received four- and five-star collision protection ratings for the driver and front passenger respectively in frontal impact and a five-star rating for all outboard passengers in a side impact when crash tested by the NHTSA.




APA Alert!
Recall covering 1997-1999 models: high electrical current passing through the ignition switch when the car is started can cause the contacts to wear and lead to vehicle stalling. Replace the switch.

Recall covering 1998 models: the insulation on some under-dash wiring could wear and cause a short-circuit leading to the loss of some essential components like the windshield wipers, headlights, signals, etc. Inspect and repair, and install a protector tube on the wiring harness.

Recall covering 2002 models: defective front-seat seat-belt pretensioners may allow front-seat occupants to be unrestrained in a crash. Repair both pretensioners.


Excerpt from The Complete Canadian Used Car Guide 2004,

© The Automobile Protection Association 2004