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The Honda CR-V: Six Generations of Interior Space

When shopping for a used vehicle, you have a ton of different features to try to keep track of. Pay attention to each of them and you just might get the right model for your driving needs. One of the details that can be all-too-easily overlooked, however, is the model year; not concerning overall age, which I’m sure you’d notice, but in terms of generations and significant changes from one to the next.
Let’s take, for example, the Honda CR-V, which is a popular compact crossover SUV that’s been around for about 25 years now. If you’re looking for a used Honda CR-V for sale near you, then you’ll find them in a wide range of model years, with numerous generations spread out across them. It’s easy to focus on aspects like engines and tech features when going from one model year to the next, but what about the overall design and layout of the vehicle? Let’s take a look at each generation of the Honda CR-V and pay particular attention to how much passenger and cargo space you can actually get in each model.

Generations and Model Years of the Honda CR-V

Before we dig into the details here, let’s quickly go over what the CR-V has offered throughout its lifespan to get a sense of which model years are most important. The CR-V launched for the 1997 model year with its first generation, offering a few options in terms of features but providing a solid foundation for this vehicle. It was followed by a second generation that launched for the 2002 model year, then a third generation a few years later, for 2007.

For the 2012 model year, the fourth generation of the Honda CR-V was released, with a fifth-generation model offered for 2017. The latest generation of the CR-V has just been released with the all-new 2023 model. There have been some updates and refreshes within these generations, but nothing as major as the redesigns that typically come with the start of a new generation, so we’ll focus on these six model years. The number of trims available has changed quite a bit in this time, but we’ll stick to the base trim on each one to keep things simple. While you’ll obviously want to look at various factors with any used vehicle you’re interested in, I’ll focus on interior space figures for cargo and passengers.

First Generation: The 1997 CR-V

To kick things off, here we have the very first year for the Honda CR-V, the 1997 model that launched the series and its inaugural generation. When it first hit the road, the CR-V offered a total of 98 cu.ft. of interior passenger space, plus 29.6 cu.ft. of cargo volume with the seats up and 67.2 cu.ft. of space with the rear seats down. The CR-V was and has remained a two-row model, so you’ll see seating capacity remain a constant throughout this vehicle’s history. It had a 126-hp engine, which was decent for its time—though it’s been surpassed in succeeding generations. The 1997 CR-V could also handle up to 1,000 lbs of towing; the cargo area had lighting and hooks, but more features would come in future generations.

Second Generation: The 2002 CR-V

For its second generation, the 2002 Honda CR-V launched with a redesign that not only updated it for the start of the new century, but also increased its interior size and configuration. Looking at a 2002 model, you’ll find 106 cu.ft. of total passenger volume, a substantial increase of 8 cu.ft. from the previous generation. These second-generation CR-V models also have 33.5 cu.ft. of cargo volume with the seats up and 72 cu.ft. of space with the seats down, both of which are a significant improvement over the previous year. Thanks to its 160-hp engine, a notable power boost from the first generation, this CR-V can handle up to 1,500 lbs of towing; along with the cargo lighting and standard hooks, for this generation Honda added grocery bag hooks.

Third Generation: The 2007 CR-V

Moving onto the third generation, we have an interesting situation: the CR-V was once again redesigned, but there were some concessions made in doing so. Most notably, for the 2007 model, interior passenger space was reduced slightly to 103.8 cu.ft. at best; some models had just over 100 cu.ft. of passenger volume instead. Despite this change, cargo volume with the seats up was improved to 35.7 cu.ft. and with the seats down it increased slightly to 72.9 cu.ft. The 166-hp engine on this model is suitable for commuting, but it didn’t change its towing capacity. For this third generation, Honda added underseat storage bins and four cargo area tie-down anchors to improve storage functionality.

Fourth Generation: The 2012 CR-V

With the launch of the fourth generation, Honda’s designers and engineers once again redesigned the CR-V. This altered the interior in a few major ways. Passenger volume went back up after the decrease of the previous generation, reaching a maximum of 104.1 cu.ft. of space when properly configured. While cargo volume with the seats up increased to 37.2 cu. ft, it decreased with the seats down to a maximum of 70.9 cu.ft. Performance improved with a 185-hp engine, but towing with the fourth-generation CR-V remained steady at 1,500 lbs; a retractable cargo area cover was added on these models.

Fifth Generation: The 2017 CR-V

As Honda launched the fifth generation of the CR-V, they made improvements to the interior across the board to offer more space than ever before. The 2017 CR-V features up to 105.9 cu.ft. of total passenger volume when properly configured, along with 39.2 cu.ft. of cargo space with the rear seats up and up to 75.8 cu.ft. of cargo volume with them down. This is the only time since the launch of the second generation that each of these interior figures increased across the board. Despite its available 190-hp engine, the 2017 CR-V remains capped at 1,500 lbs of towing capacity; along with features from previous generations like tie-down anchors and a retractable cargo area cover, these models have a multi-function center console for improved storage.

Current Generation: The 2023 CR-V

Finally, we have the current generation of the CR-V, which has just launched with the all-new 2023 model. Admittedly, you’re not going to find a ton of these when shopping for a used model, but I’m including it here as a point of interest. For this newest generation, Honda has again gone in both directions: it has 103.5 cu.ft. of total interior passenger volume, along with 39.3 cu.ft. of cargo space with the rear seats up and 76.5 cu.ft. with them down. With its 190-hp engine, the CR-V continues to top out at 1,500 lbs of towing; that seems to be what Honda’s happy with. On these models, new LED lighting makes the cargo area easier to see at night and the large front center console gives you plenty of additional storage space.

A History of Practicality

As you can see, your choice of model year—and, more importantly, generation—does make a difference in the amount of space you’ll have inside of any given Honda CR-V. This means you want to look at model year as more than simply a number that tracks the age of any used vehicle you’re interested in. Rather, it indicates distinct feature differences.

I suggest looking up the breakpoints for generations and using that to guide your shopping any time you consider a used car. This will help you identify the features you prefer and ensure you drive home a model with enough room inside to suit your unique lifestyle.