Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2020 Honda CR-V Touring is shown driving through a tunnel.

The Used Honda CR-V and the Single Driver

As John Cafferty sang almost 40 years ago, Things are Tough All Over. It’s harder than ever to make ends meet with gas prices on the rise and the cost of living higher than ever. This is especially true if you’re a single driver looking for a comfortable, fuel-efficient vehicle that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Your best bet is to find a dependable crossover like the used Honda CR-V.

Kelley Blue Book recently named Honda the Best Value Brand for the seventh straight year. This means that you will see your car money go further when you buy a Honda than when you buy from any other mass-market automaker. The Honda CR-V itself has won its fair share of awards over the years because it is so dependable and reliable. What’s more, buying a used CR-V will allow you to get an even better deal on this affordable crossover, as the pricing for used vehicles often reflects the fact that cars lose up to half of their value to depreciation during the first three years of ownership. This means that you can get more Honda CR-V for your money when you buy one used.

Five Generations of a Capable Crossover

Honda first introduced the CR-V in the 1996 model year. Since then, the venerable Japanese automaker has produced five generations of the CR-V, with the most recent generation debuting in 2017. If you are looking to buy a used Honda CR-V, the majority of models you’re likely to see were built for either the fourth or fifth generations.

The fourth generation was first produced for the 2011 model year, and the design of the CR-V began to resemble its three-row, midsize big sister, the Honda Pilot. While the CR-V has only two rows of seats, that is still plenty of room for you and up to 4 of your closest friends. In addition, the CR-V has always been known for having great trunk space, with those fourth generations having up to 72.9 cubic feet of trunk space with the rear seat folded down. This expanded to 75.8 cubic feet on the fifth generation of the CR-V. When Honda made a redesign of the CR-V for the fifth generation, it increased the overall size of the vehicle slightly, providing you with more overall interior space. Even if you want to leave the rear seat up, you can still fit up to 39.2 cubic feet of luggage, groceries, or other stuff in the back of your used Honda CR-V.

Fans of Dr. Who might be convinced that the Honda CR-V is really a TARDIS since the cute exterior hides a very roomy and comfortable interior. I don’t know how Honda does it myself, but I really think the CR-V is bigger on the inside than the outside. What’s more, Honda has chosen to use the finest fabric and leather for the seats, depending on your choice of trim level on your used CR-V. This will make driving your used Honda CR-V even more comfortable, whether you decide on the fourth or fifth-generation model.

A grey 2020 Honda CR-V shows two rows of seating.

Fuel-Efficient Engines With Exceptional Performance

Honda has always been known for making smaller vehicles with very efficient and powerful little engines. This goes back to Honda’s origins as a motorcycle company. Actually, the first Hondas sold in America were the compact motorbikes like the one immortalized in the Beach Boys’ song, Little Honda. But the CR-V has a major advantage over those motorbikes since it can fit up to 5 passengers as well as all their belongings. Try doing that on a motorbike!

Nevertheless, the used Honda CR-V shares a powerful, fuel-efficient engine with those famous little Honda motorbikes. The fourth generation model introduced in 2011 sports a 2.4-liter I-4 gas engine paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission. This was the first model of the CR-V to eliminate the standard 5-speed manual transmission, so you wouldn’t have to worry about working a clutch and a stick shift. This engine is capable of producing 180 horsepower and generating 161 pound-feet of torque.

In addition, the 2011 Honda CR-V comes with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The front-wheel drive models provide slightly better fuel economy, with an estimated 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 miles per gallon on the highway. The all-wheel drivetrain gives you better traction with 21 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 miles per gallon while driving your used CR-V on the highway. These two drivetrain options on the Honda CR-V would continue to this day.

During the fourth generation of the CR-V, Honda made a number of upgrades to the model for the 2015 model year. One of these was to change the transmission on the CR-V. While the engine is the same 2.4-liter I-4 gas engine on older models, the 2015 model replaced the 5-speed automatic transmission with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The CVT does not have set gear speeds like a regular transmission, instead having the transmission constantly adjust the engine speed to better suit the driving conditions. This improves both engine performance and efficiency.

The engine now produces 185 horsepower and generates 181 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the fuel efficiency improves to 27 miles per gallon in city driving and 33 miles per gallon in highway driving on front-wheel drive models, and 26 miles per gallon in city driving and 32 miles per gallon in highway driving on all-wheel drive models. If you are looking at the fourth generation used Honda CR-V, then this might be the model to consider buying to get the best performance and fuel economy.

The fifth generation ushered in another era of fuel-efficient Honda CR-V crossovers, building on the expertise developed over four generations of this model. The 2017 CR-V offers you a choice of two great engines, each paired with a CVT transmission. The 2.4-liter I-4 was continued, although fuel economy dropped slightly to 26 miles per gallon in the city and 32 miles per gallon on the highway with front-wheel drive models, and 25 miles per gallon in the city and 31 miles per gallon highway with all-wheel drive.

The new engine introduced in 2017 is a 1.5-liter turbocharged I-4. While smaller than the other engine, the turbocharged engine did a great job boosting performance. This engine produces 190 horsepower while generating 179 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the improved performance did not come at the expense of fuel economy, as the front-wheel drive CR-V with this engine gets 28 miles per gallon in city driving and 34 miles per gallon on the highway with front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive models will give you 27 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon in highway driving.

In 2020, Honda decided to discontinue offering the CR-V with the 2.4-liter I-4 engine, making the 1.5-liter turbo standard on all models. In addition, Honda began offering the CR-V with a 2.0-liter Atkinson cycle 4-cylinder hybrid engine with dual electric motors. The Hybrid CR-V represents the most fuel-efficient model so far, with an estimated 40 miles per gallon in city driving and 35 miles per gallon on the highway. Its dual electric motors make it all-wheel drive standard, with the gas engine helping to keep the hybrid battery charged. The engine on the Hybrid CR-V combines with the dual electric motors to produce 212 horsepower and generate 232 pound-feet of torque.

A grey 2020 Honda CR-V is shown from the front driving over a bridge after looking at a used Honda CR-V.

That’s Infotainment!

Every model of the fourth and fifth generation Honda CR-V comes equipped with Honda’s infotainment system. This combines an exceptional stereo system with critical vehicle information and connectivity, such as Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, all on an easy-to-use color touchscreen. The specific features, as well as the size of the touchscreen, depend on the model year and trim level you choose. Opting for a more recent used Honda CR-V with a higher trim level will give you a larger screen with more functionality, and even in some trims, a premium audio system. This is a great system for folks who love some music to provide a soundtrack on their commutes to work.

The Used Honda CR-V Makes Life a Little Less Tough

While times may be tough, getting a used Honda CR-V is a great way to make things just a little bit better. From an affordable price tag to superior fuel economy, the used CR-V will help you stay within your budget while also giving you a great ride wherever the road may take you.