The CR-V wasn’t the first compact SUV from a Japanese automaker (that distinction went to the Toyota RAV4), but Honda’s “cute ute” and the RAV4 have been slugging it out for sales supremacy over two decades.
It’s impossible to see a busy highway or suburban parking lot without a CR-V (or several), and for obvious reasons. Countless individuals and families consider this Honda to be the perfect vehicle. Owners appreciate nimble handling, generous room for people and their things, and a price that won’t break the bank.
The CR-V serves many functions, according to an owner survey conducted by FIXD. As expected, these vehicles spend most of their use for travel/commuting and family hauling (43.6% and 31.8%, respectively). However, the CR-V gets used for more than ordinary tasks. 4.38% of owners take their Honda offroad, while 4.38% consider their car an office on wheels. Meanwhile, 7.17% give the CR-V props for its sporty and fast driving characteristics, and another 5.01% give this versatile Honda a thumbs up for a luxurious driving experience. Clearly, the CR-V offers something for everyone.
But not every CR-V offers the same thing; some model years are better than others regarding reliability and other factors. To come up with a definitive list of the best and worst years for the CR-V, we reviewed a vast amount of data. Essential information to know if you already have a CR-V in the driveway or are thinking about putting one there.
This analysis dove into the engine reliability reports produced by the thousands of FIXD Sensors currently used in Honda CR-Vs. Additionally, the CR-V survey uncovered insights into overall reliability and specific trouble areas. Further, we blended in vital published information covering crash tests, fuel economy, and other key metrics.
Check out an overview of the results, followed by more detailed information.
|Best Years||Why?||Worst Years||Why?|
|2005-2006||Respectable reliability scores and notable crash test results||2001-2004||Troubling reliability ratings and high potential for pricey repairs.|
|2008-2010||Few expensive trouble areas, good safety scores||2007||First year of 3rd generation, high maintenance costs|
|2013||Solid reliability scores, reasonable upkeep costs||2011-2012||Troubling crash test scores (2011), first year of 4th generation (2012)|
|2015-2016||Excellent reliability ratings, good safety tests, and respectable fuel economy,||2014||Mediocre reliability scores (from owners), likelihood of costly repairs|
|2018-2021||Strong reliability reports, commendable fuel economy (2020-2021)||2017||
First year of 5th generation, finicky infotainment system
Honda CR-V Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings & MPG Year-by-Year
Let’s review the key areas that go into determining the CR-V’s dependability. Specifically, we’ll check engine reliability, crash test scores, and fuel economy.
Does the Honda CR-V generally perform better than average for engine reliability?
Engine reliability comes from two sources, the FIXD car scanner, and feedback from CR-V owners.
You’ll spot low scores for the earliest CR-V years, which isn’t surprising as some of these models hit the quarter-century mark (which qualifies them as classic cars!). We’ll go into detail later on, but this is the number one reason we don’t recommend touching an older CR-V until the 2005 model year.
Otherwise, newer CR-Vs are ranked from 7 to 10 (out of 10) for engine reliability, a commendable rating.
But there is one important exception: an engine reliability score of 4 for the 2021 CR-V. This result is an anomaly due to very few 2021 CR-Vs having the FIXD app installed. These Hondas likely have problems, prompting the owners to install the app to help, it does not necessarily indicate poor reliability with such a small sample size as the 2021 and 2022 years.
In other words, of the small number of 2021 Honda CR-Vs with the FIXD app, most have engine issues that the app can identify. We expect this low score to rise over time as more 2021 Honda CR-Vs get the FIXD app.
When shopping for a used Honda CR-V, it’s essential to remember that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!
Does the Honda CR-V generally have better-than-average NHTSA safety?
Strong safety tests are essential to keep family vehicle occupants safe (and at ease) and the insurance rates low.
But one CR-V model year, 2011, stands out and not in a good way. Its overall 3.8 rating (out of 5 stars) in testing by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) results from poor performance in side impact assessments. This is why the 2011 CR-V gets a double thumbs down in our analysis.
Otherwise, the CR-V does well by scoring at least a 4.6 (out of 5) for the model years we recommend. The 2001-2003 CR-Vs score lower, but we’ve already knocked them out of consideration because of engine reliability.
Let’s review how the CR-V stands against key competitors by analyzing a year (2012) with lower crash test results (4.6). NHTSA data reveals the 2012 CR-V matches the 4.6 overall scores of the 2012 Toyota RAV4 and the 2012 Hyundai Tucson. Meanwhile, the Ford Escape lagged behind with a 3.0.
With the exceptions already noted, CR-V owners and prospective buyers can assume that the CR-V holds its own in government safety testing.
Does the Honda CR-V generally have better than average MPG?
Fuel economy was not a strong point for the CR-V until the introduction of the fourth generation in 2012, when average mileage topped 25 mpg for the first time. Efficiency took another leap forward by introducing a new engine for the 2015 CR-V and the long-awaited debut of the CR-V Hybrid for 2020.
Newer non-hybrid CR-V models (2020 and later) benefited from standard turbocharging technology to elevate average fuel economy to 32 mpg. Well above the 25.7 mpg that the average 2021 light-duty vehicle gets, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Current Market Value of All Honda CR-V Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each
Car models with histories of expensive upkeep frequently suffer when it comes to market value. But the CR-V’s overall positive reputation and relatively consistent repair bills show a proper valuation curve (newer cars are worth more). Four model years (2003-2004, 2008, and 2012) have annual service and maintenance expenses above $800, but this doesn’t significantly impact value.
Important Features Timeline
1997: First year of the Honda CR-V compact SUV
1998: Manual transmission is available, EX trim gets anti-lock brakes
1999: Horsepower is increased to 146, new column shifter for the automatic transmission
2000: SE trim arrives with leather upholstery
2001: No major changes, last year of the 1st generation CR-V
2002: 2nd generation appears with more power and larger cabin
2004: The 2nd generation continues with no substantial updates
2005: Redesigned front-end, many safety updates like standard ABS and additional airbags
2006: No updates, horsepower drops slightly due to new testing procedure
2007: Honda launches the 3rd-generation CR-V
2008: EX-L trim gets a power driver’s seat and dual-zone climate control
2009: Nothing new other than additional color choices
2010: Minor interior and exterior updates, horsepower increases by 14
2011: SE trim launches, splitting the difference between the LX and EX
2012: The 4th-generation CR-V hits Honda showrooms
2013: No changes for the second year of the 4th generation
2014: Another year of the CR-V without any updates
2015: CR-V gets a new engine and CVT transmission, upper trims come with blind-spot monitoring
2016: This CR-V generation gets an SE trim
2017: Debut of the 5th-generation CR-V with optional turbo engine
2018: Predictably, no changes for the second year of a new generation
2019: No substantive changes for this model year
2020: Advanced safety tech and turbo engine standard across the lineup, CR-V Hybrid appears
2021: The CR-V continues without any changes
2022: AWD standard on the Touring trim, last year of the 5th generation
The Best Years of the Honda CR-V
Based on a review of reliability data, crash test results, owner surveys, and fuel economy ratings, here are the Honda CR-V years to consider. We’ve also included, where applicable, common diagnostic trouble code (DTC) information and a quick look at NHTSA recall information.
2005-2006 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 7-8/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 7-8/10
KBB Value: $4,460-$5,041
Fuel Economy: 22 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $536-$591
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 33%
Safety Rating: 4.7
Don’t expect cars with more than a decade-and-a-half of use to be perfect, but seeing engine and owner-reported reliability scores hover in the 7 to 8 range (out of 10) is impressive. The trade-off is you’ll be hard-pressed to find one for under $5,000 unless it’s in sad shape or has over 200,000 miles. But, adding a few thousand to the budget will increase the options.
Another thing to understand, fuel economy isn’t great for these CR-Vs, something we mentioned earlier. But it would take many years and miles to justify buying a new CR-V (which gets 32 mpg) solely for the purpose of fewer visits to the gas station.
Drilling into the owner surveys, we uncover a different way of looking at the 2005-2006 Honda CR-V by exploring owner likes and dislikes. 26% of 2005-2006 owners believe their cars will make it to at least 200,000 miles (or their car already has).
As for dislikes, some were unhappy with seat comfort. And in the perfect example of “to each his own,” the usability of the entertainment system is a dividing issue amongst owners. More 2005 owners like the entertainment system than don’t but it’s close, 25% liked to 17% disliked. The opposite is true for 2006 model owners, 19% Liked to 44% disliked. If you are looking at the 2005-2006 models, play around with the entertainment system a bit to pinpoint any deal breaker issues you may have with it.
Repairs are unavoidable with these CR-Vs, but at least the most common issue is dealing with an engine knock sensor (DTC P0325), a cheap fix that usually runs from $50 to $150. But that’s not to say expensive repairs aren’t ahead. The FIXD app reports that a new catalytic converter (DTC P0420), which runs $1,538-$2,041, could be an issue with these CR-V model years. Replacing the intake manifold runner control (IMRC) position sensor (DTC P0661) and air-fuel ratio sensor (DTC P0135) are typical repairs too. But, these usually cost no more than $150 to swap out.
Compared to some CR-Vs that require spending $800 or more in annual upkeep, the 2005 and 2006 models are downright cheap to own ($536-$591 in yearly expenses). There is a 33% chance of expensive ($500+) engine repairs with the 2005 CR-V, but otherwise, no specific issue screams out from the data.
It’s noteworthy that the 2005-2006 CR-V model years received a 4.7 out of 5 overall safety score based on NHTSA crash tests. Moreover, there are a significant number of recalls (almost two dozen). Still, many are related to the notorious Takata airbag issue, a problem facing other Hondas (and other brands) from the same era.
2008-2010 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 7-8/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 7-8/10
KBB Value: $5,563-$7,587
Fuel Economy: 23-24 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $568-$922
Average Years $500+ Repair in 2022: 93%
Safety Rating: 4.7
For a car buying budget under $10,000, 2008 to 2010 examples are the CR-V models to shop for. These editions benefit from third-generation improvements and solid reliability scores. Like earlier CR-Vs, the fuel economy won’t wow, but you can’t have everything when it comes to a used car.
As with the 2005-2006 CR-V, numerous owners are hopeful these Hondas will hit 200,000 miles. These years also get good marks on driver visibility and their entertainment system. Interestingly, a similar number of owners didn’t like the stereo in the 2008 and 2009 CR-V, but the negative feedback dropped substantially for the 2010 edition. This was when Honda added Bluetooth and a USB port.
Replacing the catalytic converter (DTC P0420) is a known problem for these CR-V models. The other issues that commonly arise are much less severe:
- Mass air-flow (MAF) sensor (DTC P0171, repair costs: $172-$309)
- Evaporative emissions (EVAP) canister purge solenoid/valve (DTC P0497, repair costs: $50-$150)
- Idle air volume learning procedure(DTC P0507, repair costs: $50-$150)
Both 2008 and 2010 have higher annual maintenance and repair expenses ($854 and $922, respectively) than most other CR-V years. Data shows you can expect to spend money on brakes, the 2008 had a 21.43% chance and the 2010 had a 23.81% chance. The 2009 had a 7.14% chance of a brake repair (in 2022) however, the 2009 models’ HVAC system had a 23.0% chance of needing repair (in 2022).
Recalls approach two dozen instances, but many of these actions still involve the troublesome airbags. And drivers (and passengers) will appreciate a 4.7 overall safety score via NHTSA testing.
2013 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 8/10
KBB Value: $10,097
Fuel Economy: 26 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $556
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 86%
Safety Rating: 4.6
What’s not to like about a ten-year-old crossover that won’t drain the wallet to buy or keep? The 2010 CR-V scores an 8 in reliability from both the FIXD app and CR-V owners. Plus, low annual service and repair cost of $556 makes it one of the cheapest CR-V years to maintain.
Meanwhile, owners are optimistic about the CR-V’s longevity potential, and the stereo wins more than a few thumbs-ups. But before we get overly starry-eyed, there are a few complaints to consider.
Half of the responding owners of the 2010 CR-V cite limited interior storage as a negative, while one-fourth weren’t favorable about drivers’ outward visibility. This last one is a bit of a head scratcher, as this issue failed to arise beyond single digits with other CR-Vs from this generation.
The only major repair from the owner survey is a timing chain problem (DTC P0341, repair cost: $1,046-$1,615). Unlike most cars that use a rubberized timing belt (that requires periodic changing), the 2010 CR-V uses an actual metal chain that seldom needs to be replaced. The instance that arose is likely the exception, not the rule.
Recalls have dropped significantly; there’s only one on record for the 2013 CR-V. This Honda enjoys a strong 4.6 overall safety score from NHTSA.
2015-2016 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 9/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 8-9/10
KBB Value: $12,241-$16,734
Fuel Economy: 28-29 mpg
Average Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $536-$563
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 95%
Safety Rating: 4.6-4.8
The final years of the 4th-generation CR-V ended with honor and distinction thanks to near-perfect (9 out of 10) engine reliability scores. That’s impressive for vehicles approaching almost a decade of use. Owner-reported reliability ratings of 8 or 9 also deserve recognition.
Many owners are enthusiastic about their 2015-2016 CR-Vs running until at least 200,000 miles. On the other hand, the most significant complaint was a lack of cabin storage, something we’ve heard before. Additionally, there was negative feedback about the CR-V being expensive to repair.
Interestingly, the timing chain issue arises again with the 2015 CR-V. But other repairs are minor, with the fuel filler cap (DTC P0455, repair cost: $58-$165) showing in the data as the most common problem having a DTC. This code signals a fuel vapor leak which must be diagnosed and corrected (often with a new gas cap).
2018-2021 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10 *(2021 was 4/10 – small survey group)
Owner-Reported Reliability: 8-10/10
KBB Value: $20,985-$25,779
Fuel Economy: 29-32 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$673
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 96.6% (small survey group)
Safety Rating: 4.6-4.8
The 2018 to 2021 Honda CR-Vs are new; many may still be protected by the original warranty. For the most part, reliability scores are strong, and we wouldn’t worry about the 2021 edition getting a 4 from the FIXD app. This low ranking comes from too few 2021 CR-Vs to accurately reflect engine reliability for this model year.
Despite this “blip,” we give this group of CR-Vs a noteworthy place on the best years lists. There are no diagnostic code issues to speak of, fuel economy is meaningful (up to 32 mpg), and crash test scores ranging from 4.6 to 4.8 inspire confidence.
Further, owners give these newer CR-Vs high marks for good drivers’ outward visibility, an easy-to-use entertainment system, and many believe their crossovers odometers will reach 200,000 miles.
The only thing that remains is time to see if any issues develop in the future. In the meantime, the 2018 to 2021 CR-V is a must-shop for those looking for a compact crossover that does it all.
A Note About The 2022 and 2023 Honda CR-V: Given the lack of meaningful data, we have left the 2022 CR-V off this best and worst year summary. The same applies to the just-launched 2023 CR-V, which represents the start of the sixth generation.
The Worst Years of the Honda CR-V
While widely praised, the CR-V is proof that no automaker is infallible. Our data review reveals several CR-V model years that should not be on anyone’s shopping list. And owners of these vehicles need to keep an eye open for potential problems.
2001-2004 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 3-5/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 6-9/10
KBB Value: $3,071-$3,603
Fuel Economy: 21-25 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $250-$1,179
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 74.5%
Safety Rating: 4.2-5.0
If you remember one thing about CR-Vs from 2001 to 2004, it’s abysmal engine reliability ratings reinforced by subpar reliability data from owners. These alarming numbers can be attributed to age, but they don’t exempt these CR-V models from the worst years list. Simply put, stay away from these cars.
If that doesn’t get the point across, then excessively high annual upkeep ($1,179 for the 2003 and $875 for the 2004) should. Still need more proof? There’s a strong probability of needing expensive ($500+) engine or HVAC repairs. This is backed up by 25%-75% of owners (varies by year) reporting their CR-Vs are costly to repair.
We’ll also add that 2002 marks the arrival of the second-generation CR-V. We regularly advise avoiding the first year of an all-new car, no matter the manufacturer. Read on, as this is a repeated recommendation for the CR-V.
2007 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 8/10
KBB Value: $5,372
Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $731
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 91%
Safety Rating: 4.7
On the surface, the 2007 CR-V’s strong reliability scores should make this Honda a keeper. But, fears of first-year gremlins for the debut of the third-generation CR-V are best considered. And 38% of responding owners report this particular CR-V is expensive to repair. Plus, that pesky and expensive-to-replace catalytic converter is the most common repair for the most common trouble code, P0420.
25% of 2007 owners are confident their CR-V will see 200,000 miles, 13% of owners believe their 2007 CR-V won’t.
25% of owners liked the car’s entertainment system. 0% disliked it.
Could you make a case for buying a 2007 CR-V? Possibly, But we suggest playing it safe, mainly because there are less-dubious model years to consider.
2011-2012 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8-9/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 7-9/10
KBB Value: $7,271-$8,372
Fuel Economy: 24-26 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $721-$789
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 85.5%
Safety Rating: 3.8-4.6
The 2011 and 2012 CR-V are more examples of model years with notable reliability scores, but troubling characteristics surface once the data is thoroughly analyzed. However, these two CR-V model years get the thumbs down for different reasons.
The rationale for putting the 2011 CR-V on the worst years list is simple; terrible crash test scores. The 3.8 overall safety score results from poor showings in NHTSA’s side-impact assessments. And with most other CR-V models scoring a 4.6 or better, there are better (and safer) CR-Vs to buy. Put another way, would you want a loved one driving a car with a low safety score when there are options with greater peace of mind?
Meanwhile, the recommendation for skipping the 2012 CR-V will have a familiar ring. It’s the first year of the fourth generation. Additional reasons for taking a pass include high ($789) annual maintenance and repair expenses. Further, an almost 25% likelihood of expensive engine repairs is a roll of the dice most people don’t want to make.
2017 Honda CR-V
FIXD App Engine Reliability: 8/10
Owner-Reported Reliability: 9/10
KBB Value: $19,626
Fuel Economy: 29 mpg
Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $500
Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: Not enough data
Safety Rating: 4.8
If there’s a best of the worst for CR-V years, it’s the 2017 model year. There’s a convincing argument to make that this CR-V could qualify for a best-year designation. Still, we get back to the issue of buying a first-year/new-generation vehicle (the 2017 CR-V is the debut of the fifth generation). That said, we’ll fall back on our default advice and suggest not taking the risk of first-year problems surfacing.
And perhaps not attributable to first-year teething pains, 29% of responding owners don’t like the infotainment system in their 2017 CR-V. That’s a troublingly higher number for such a new car. At the same time, another 14% feel their Hondas won’t make it to 200,000 miles, another large-ish number for vehicles just six years old.
Frequently Asked Questions: The Best and Worst Years of the Honda CR-V
What years of the Honda CR-V have engine and/or transmission problems?
In general, most CR-V engines and transmissions have an exceptional history of dependability. However, data shows a few models that have less-than-stellar engines. Specifically, the 2001-2003 CR-Vs have up to a 50% chance of expensive engine repairs. Data also shows potential engine troubles for the 2005 and 2012 model years. Yet, only the 2002 and 2006 CR-Vs have a likelihood for transmission problems, with a repair probably of 14.3% for the 2002 and 7.1% for the 2006.
What is considered high mileage for a Honda CR-V?
“High mileage” is a relative term, especially when it comes to the Honda CR-V. The survey revealed that an average of 20% of CR-V owners believe their cars will make it 200,000 miles (or already have). Compared to 7% who doubt their CR-Vs will achieve the same milestone.
CR-V longevity comes down to usage and condition. In particular, a well-cared-for vehicle with 200,00 miles and used primarily on highways is likely to outlast a poorly maintained car with 100,000 driven primarily in stop-and-go city traffic. A thorough inspection is the best way to determine if a CR-V has too many miles.
What other vehicles should I consider?
Besides the CR-V, Honda offers several other crossover SUVs to consider. For more space, there is the two-row Passport or the three-row Pilot. While the smaller HR-V is another alternative. Meanwhile, the Ridgeline offers a more civilized form of a pickup truck, and the Odyssey minivan provides the ultimate people-hauling capabilities. Although discontinued, the Fit combines SUV-like functionality with the qualities of a smaller car.
But Honda hasn’t abandoned passenger cars. The stalwart Civic is still popular, as is the larger Accord.
A note about data and information sources
This article has many details about Honda CR-V reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.
- FIXD App Data: Engine reliability information captured from the FIXD app.
- Owner Reports: Documentation as reported by surveyed Honda CR-V owners, including individual comments.
- KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Honda CR-V with typical mileage for that respective model year.
- Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the U.S. Department of Energy
- Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Honda CR-V owners
- Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA.
- Honda CR-V model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates), Retrieved Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
- Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.