Honda was already on a winner with the CR-V, but the new RE model that arrived in 2007 was a clear and welcome improvement over earlier models.

The Japanese carmaker was an early entrant into the high-riding ’burb bus market when it launched the first CR-V a decade earlier, and quickly knew it was on the right track when stock raced out of showroom doors.

The CR-V was one of the leaders in the new SUV market from the beginning, becoming more refined, smoother and better adapted to its role on the road with each new model.

Built in Thailand instead of Japan the RE model was smoother, safer, and looked fresher.

It was shorter than the outgoing model, but was wider and lower, with wider front and rear tracks and a shorter wheelbase.

Models

The RE CR-V was offered in three levels of kit, consisting of the base model, the Sport and the Luxury.

Like previous models the RE had a mechanical package made up of a four-cylinder petrol engine – there was no diesel offered – a choice of manual gearbox or automatic transmission, and an on-demand all-wheel drive system.

Even though it sat at the entry point to the range the base model, simply badged CR-V, boasted quite a long list of standard gear, enough to meet most SUV buyers’ needs and wants.

Its standard safety features included airbags for the front seat occupants, side front airbags, ABS anti-lock braking, emergency brakeforce distribution for even braking, and electronic stability control.

It was recommended that it were run on 91-octane regular unleaded petrol. It was recommended that it were run on 91-octane regular unleaded petrol.

On top of that it also had air conditioning, cruise controlalloy wheels, remote central locking, power windows and mirrors, and a radio/CD player with four speakers.

The Sport had even more, boasting dual-zone automatic climate control air conditioning, a radio/CD player with a stacker and six speakers, 17-inch alloy wheels, plus the added safety of head airbags.

Then there was the new Luxury model that brought a whole new level of comfort and convenience to the CR-V.

Among the Luxury’s features were leather trim, a leather steering wheel, a powered driver’s seat, power sunroof, and parking sensors.

Bluetooth was added to the list of the CR-V’s features in 2012, shortly before the end of the model run, which meant you could sync an iPhone or Android device.

The RE feels roomier than the old model. The RE feels roomier than the old model.

There was a multi-function screen, but it wasn’t a touch screen, sat nav wasn’t available, but there were map reading lights, there was no reversing camera, or a park assist system.

The spare tyre, now mounted under the cargo area instead of on the rear door as it was previously, was a full-sized one.

Cabin

The extra width of the RE meant it felt roomier than did the old model.

The luggage area was increased with the split-fold rear seats. The luggage area was increased with the split-fold rear seats.

Those in the front would have felt comfortable in the wider seats they were provided with; those in the rear might have felt the headroom was a little less than before.

The storage options spread around the cabin were greater, there were cupholders in the front and rear, and the luggage area was increased with the split-fold rear seats up or down.

Lap/sash seat belts facilitated the use of a baby car seat, and Honda was an early adopter of the ISOFIX mounting points.

Engine

The engine was a 2.4-litre i-VTEC unit with double overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and variable valve timing.

It carried over from the outgoing model, but boasted a little more power and torque. When operating at its performance peaks of horsepower and torque it produced 125kW and 218Nm respectively.

It was recommended that it were run on 91-octane regular unleaded petrol.

If pressed the CR-V could complete the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.6 seconds. If pressed the CR-V could complete the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.6 seconds.

Performance, while not scintillating, was perfectly adequate whether fighting the crawl in town or out on the highway.

If pressed the CR-V could complete the 0-100 km/h sprint in 10.6 seconds.

The choice of transmissions consisted of a five-speed manual gearbox or a five-speed automatic transmission, and the on-demand all-wheel drive system was improved.

Driving

Driving the new RE CR-V was ever more like driving a car as Honda strove more and more to make its SUV a more refined vehicle for use around town.

It handled well, steered with admirable accuracy, and stopped confidently.

It’s important to check with the owner if the airbags have been replaced as part of the recall. It’s important to check with the owner if the airbags have been replaced as part of the recall.

The performance with the 2.4-litre engine, even with its higher output, was satisfactory, but not exciting. It was quite sufficient for its intended purpose.

Buyers sometimes complained about the road noise with the original fitment tyres, but almost certainly they would have been replaced by now and the road noise might not be the issue it was when new.

Safety

The new model was well equipped in terms of safety, having frontal airbags for those in the front seat, side airbags, and those who chose the Sport or Luxury got the extra protection of front head airbags.

In addition to the passive safety features the RE boasted ABS anti-lock brakingemergency brakeforce assistance, and electronic stability control.

It was enough that when ANCAP assessed the RE model it gave it a four-star tick of approval.

Any common issues?

Thorough engineering and good build quality generally translate into reliability and durability in service, and this is borne out with the RE CR-V.

Most owners say they are happy with their cars, and few complain about any issues of real significance.

The complaints that do crop up often relate to the paint being easy to scratch, and the failure of the air conditioning compressor or clutch.

There’s also a rumbling noise that can sometimes be heard when reversing or turning, which is usually a sign that the oil in the rear differential needs replacing. It’s a known issue and changing the oil usually fixes it.

Honda engines are finely engineered and depend on regular oil changes to keep them ticking over in tip-top shape. Honda engines are finely engineered and depend on regular oil changes to keep them ticking over in tip-top shape.

But perhaps the most important issue relates to the Takata front airbags, which are the subject or a recall. It’s important to check with the owner if the airbags have been replaced as part of the recall, or if the owner is uncertain, check with a Honda dealer, or directly with Honda itself.

Always when assessing a used car for possible purchase check for a service record.

Honda engines are finely engineered and depend on regular oil changes to keep them ticking over in tip-top shape. The use of 5W-30 oil is recommended.

The engine has a cam timing chain, so there’s no call for regular replacement.

Honda recommends servicing the RE every 10,000 km or every six months.

Capped price servicing doesn’t apply to the CR-V before 2013, hence doesn’t apply to the RE, but the service costs are not excessive. It is worthwhile, however, having it done by a mechanic with knowledge and experience of Hondas.

When new the warranty was for three years or 100,000 km, whichever came first, but that has long since expired.

MORE: If anything crops up, you’ll probably find it on our Honda CR-V problems.

Owners view

Oliver Armstrong: We owned our 2008 Luxury for eight years and had no problem with it at all. It was powerful, the seats were comfortable, and I loved driving it.

Calvin Pope: Our 2008 had 90,000 km on it when we bought it. It’s now done almost 200,000 km and is still going strong. We’ve found it comfortable, economical and a delight to drive.

Helen Backhouse: We’ve had our 2007 Classic since new. It’s now done 150,000 km and is still powering on. There have been no breakdowns; all we’ve done is service it.

Kerry Scott: We’ve owned our 2007 Sport for three years; it’s our first Honda and we can see why others love them. It’s smooth, the seats are comfortable, has great storage capacity, and it’s great to drive around town and on the highway.

Rivals

Toyota RAV4 – Economical, zippy, roomy, and lots of luggage space make the RAV4 a family favourite.
3 stars.

Nissan X-Trail – Roomy, practical family wagon that’s at home on the road and off.
3.5 stars.

Kia Sportage – Highly praised compact Korean delivers on all fronts.
4 stars.

Verdict

Reliable, safe, and sound, the CRV is a worthy used car choice.