Honda initially moved into the SUV space in the early ’90s with the Honda Passport, but that model was largely a conversion from Isuzu. The first true in-house Honda SUV was the CR-V, which first hit America in 1995. Over the 25 years since, Honda’s classic reliability made plenty of CR-V model years popular long past their initial lifespan, but the 2005 model stands out most.
Over 25 different models of the car, it makes sense that a few issues have been identified with the classic CR-V model. But one model year managed to escape the issues that tripped up some of the Honda CR-Vs, making headlines for its pure value.
Ranking the best used SUVs
When Consumer Reports released a list of the best used cars under $5,000, guess what topped the SUV chart? The 2005 Honda CR-V strikes a perfect balance of all the things that make a used vehicle great. Consumer Reports awarded it a four-out-of-five rating in both reliability and predicted owner satisfaction, meaning that even 15 years later, it’s a great value that should keep up until you’re ready to choose your next vehicle.
The other two cars listed in the Consumer Reports top three were the Honda Pilot and the Toyota RAV4. However, these other two models falter when compared to their recent releases. The 2020 Honda CR-V is a better SUV than the 2005 version, of course, but it’s much closer than these other models. And when all three are under $5,000, it makes sense to choose the CR-V.
What makes the 2005 Honda CR-V so great?
Fittingly for Honda, there’s not one thing that makes the CR-V stand out among used SUVs. It’s a reliable vehicle in almost every way. The 2005 model year was the first with Electronic Stability Control, as well as side airbags. Consumer Reports graded the transmission a five out of five, which is often an issue when looking at cars that go back 15 years. The acceleration from 0 to 60 mph is 10.4 seconds, which actually isn’t bad for an SUV. You’re unlikely to win any races in it, but that’s probably just fine.
Fuel economy is a big issue for SUVs, and the CR-V comes up with a three out of five. Not incredible, but with a 29 mpg highway rating, it pulls its weight for long trips (the 15 mpg city rating is as expected).
Every year between 2002 and 2010, the CR-V’s Reliability Owner Report showed a neutral or above-average rating for the CR-V, including a “better” ranking in 2005. The 2000s were the decade of the CR-V, and 2005 was one of the greatest leaps forward. Honda’s 2005 CR-V scores points in all the right places.
What doesn’t measure up with the 2005 Honda CR-V?
Since 2005, Honda has continued to improve the CR-V. So what reviewers find lacking about the 2005 model? Really, not much. Road noise was cited as a common concern in reviews, and it has definitely improved since then. Aside from the general loudness, the 2005 Honda CR-V is certainly a product of the mid-2000s. Features like onboard touchscreens and Bluetooth wouldn’t come around for a decade, and some Honda customers did complain of alignment issues.
In addition to the shortcomings of the design itself, Honda has issued over a dozen recall alerts for the 2005 model. However, these have clearly been communicated to dealerships, and any 2005 CR-V purchased today will certainly have them resolved.
Throughout its long history in the auto industry, Honda has never turned heads with a sleek-looking or overly-powerful car, but Honda vehicles have a reputation for quality and reliability, and the 2005 CR-V is one of its best.