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2006 Honda CR-V

Martha Hindes

Honda CR-V
Acura TL interior

Still fresh from a year-ago redesign, Honda's CR-V enters 2006 with some minor refreshments and a solid reputation among loyalists.

During its revamping, the CR-V gained an exterior facelift, side flares and protectors, new colors, 16-inch wheels for all models and new wheel designs on both EX and LX trims. All models gained a standard five-speed automatic. Other changes include a retractable grab rail, keyless remote entry, a new four-wheel-drive system and more standard safety features. For '06, exterior color choices add a Royal Blue Pearl and Alabaster Silver Metallic, both mated to black interior trim.

For those who scrutinize horsepower and torque numbers, there isn't a misprint this year. The CR-V hasn't lost any power. Instead, the Japanese-based auto maker has adopted revised Society of Automotive Engineers standards for specifications. All models come with the 2.4-liter i-VTEC four cylinder powerplant, now rated at 156-HP and 160 lb.-ft. of torque.

CR-V has become a staple on American roads since it first debuted nearly a decade ago as a car-based, family-friendly utility vehicle for five. It has been a consistent award winner for knowing its place, just aggressive enough to handle most everyday duties with mid-20s average fuel efficient ease and enough cargo space to pack sufficiently for a long road trip. This unit-body small sport utility, with 8.1-inches of ground clearance, has stayed the course for practical commuting and urban functionality while leaving the heavy duty dirt trailing duties to heartier contenders with more substantial off-road credentials.

With the additon of an SE (special edition) trim level a year ago featuring such upgrades as heated leather seats and mirrors and an exterior hard spare tire cover, CR-V now comes in four versions: the base 2WD LX, plus LX and EX models, all with four-wheel-drive. It continues to stress safety, with such advanced features as side curtain airbags, front passenger occupant position detection, vehicle stability assist and anti-lock brakes.

With average prices in the low '20s, CR-V continues to be easy on the budget as well as on the body more conditioned for driving comfort needs than for sport. Just don't look for a long list of options. Added features come with a higher trim level.