After a decade of pretending to be a pint-size, box-shaped bushwhacker, Honda's 2008 CR-V has finally given up the ruse. It's a baby crossover. There, Honda, you've admitted it. Isn't it a relief to drop the pretense that the CR-V is some sort of pseudo Land Rover LR0.5? With crossovers of any scale being the rage these days, this latest CR-V is going to be a topical addition to our long-term ranks. And, as with all new arrivals to our garage party, it's introduction time. So tell us about yourself, CR-V.

CR-V: Well, for starters, I'm not bigger-in-every-way than my predecessor. That surprises you, doesn't it? Defying Moore's lesser-known Law of Next-Model Growth, I'm actually slightly shorter. It helps that my spare tire is stashed underneath my, um, stern, you might call it. I'm also fractionally stubbier in wheelbase but, sad to say, 1.4 inches wider-ah, you Americans and your fast-food lunches. Actually, some of that width doesn't make it to my interior, as it's sacrificed in the name of my curvaceous, crossover style. Speaking of which, what do you think of it?

Motor Trend: Well, let's say you're "interesting" to look at. Your styling is-what's a gentle word here? Turbulent. That reverse-taper C-pillar for instance. And that underbite grin-doesn't Honda have dental benefits?

CR-V: No. I was designed this way by my maker. And I'm proud of it. Gosh, you magazine writers can be rude.

Motor Trend: Hey, we're no Halle Berrys or Brad Pitts, either. And those dimples on your rocker panel are certainly fetching. Your fit and finish, however, is positively watch-like, as in Swiss, not Swatch. And speaking of hinges in the right places, changing to a lift hatch instead of wrong-side opening door is an attractive move. On the other hand, we've noticed you sometimes sashay a bit on grooved freeways, and with just 166 horsepower from your 2.4-liter four banger, you're not exactly the fastest car in the fleet, so to speak.

CR-V: Don't read the papers do you, Car Expert? Gas is three bucks a gallon, pal. The world's overheating. Listen: Honda has the best fleet mpg of anybody, and I'm doing my part. "Fast," you see, is an issue of context. Do you mean across the intersection, or how quickly you blow your paycheck at the gas station, Mr. Journalist-Wages?

Motor Trend: Touche. This looks like the start of an interesting friendship.


OUR CAR: 2008 HONDA CR-V EX-L NAVI
Base price $24,685
Price as tested $28,635
Vehicle layout Front engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
Engine 2.4L/166-hp/161-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
Transmission 5-speed automatic
Curb weight (dist f/r) 3549 lb (57/43%)
Wheelbase 103.1 in
Length x width x height 177.9 x 71.6 x 66.1 in
0-60 mph 9.5 sec
Quarter mile 17.2 sec @ 79.0 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 128 ft
Lateral acceleration 0.76 g
MT figure eight 29.5 sec @ 0.53 g (avg)
EPA city/hwy econ 20/26 mpg
CO2 emissions 0.87 lb/mile
Total mileage 5349 mi
Average test mpg 22.2 mpg
Unresolved problem areas None