Introduced in '97, Honda's CR-V took the mini-ute market by storm. Besides its evolutionary new sheet metal, the secondgeneration '02 CR-V features a new interior, more powerful engine, revised suspension/ brakes/antilock system, plus other previously unavailable equipment. The CR-V's new 2.4L I-4 employs Honda's variable cam timing and valve lift technology known as i-VTEC. Although no V-6 will be offered, the engine delivers dramatically improved throttle response with much-needed horsepower and torque increases, cleaner emissions, and improved fuel economy over the old 2.0L.

Its new suspension and stiffer unibody better the CR-V's already carlike ride and dramatically reduce interior noise levels. While its overall exterior size has grown fractionally, cleverly redesigning the CR-V's interior has yielded even more room, including sliding/ reclining/tumbling rear seats. Good news/bad news on the rear glass and door: Flip-up glass is now part of the door itself and can still be opened separately; however, the door still swings toward (thus blocking) a right-side curb.

Our first drive proved tremendously positive with the CR-V's improvements representing a giant step forward for this class of vehicle. Available by December, the '02 CR-V is poised for continued success. Current fans will have even more reason to love it, and potential buyers will find it loaded with value, refinement, and style.