Like many Honda products past and present, the 2009 Honda CR-V is a top seller because it just makes sense. Safety? Check. Crash test scores don't get any better than the CR-V's. Versatility? Check. Maximum cargo capacity is a substantial 73 cubic feet of space, and there are numerous nooks and crannies in which to stash your stuff. Comfort and convenience? Check. The driving position is close to ideal, the controls are idiot-proof and the spacious rear seat both reclines and slides fore and aft. Secure handling? Check. In fact, the CR-V's communicative steering makes it downright entertaining to drive.
Given the CR-V's all-around competence, we're surprised that Honda hasn't seen fit to give this loyal steed a few more oats. Despite being one of the lightest compact SUVs on the market, the last all-wheel-drive CR-V we tested weighed in at a substantial 3,552 pounds -- yet the only available engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder rated at just 166 horsepower. With that kind of weight-to-power ratio, no amount of VTEC trickery can keep the CR-V from turning in a doglike performance at the track. If zero to 60 in 10 seconds and a 17.4-second quarter mile don't tickle your fancy, check out Toyota's V6-powered RAV4, which nearly matches the CR-V's fuel economy while hitting 60 mph almost 3 seconds sooner.
Other concerns about the CR-V include higher-than-average road noise and the lack of a manual mode for the mandatory five-speed automatic. We're not crazy about the front-end styling, either. But judging by this Honda's sales success, plenty of car shoppers aren't bothered by such issues. The well-rounded CR-V does most things well, and Honda's long-standing reputation for reliability is icing on the cake.