How the Honda CR-V Has Become Even More Tech-Friendly Over Time

A grey 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid is shown from the front at an angle.

When Honda debuted the CR-V for the 1997 model year, buyers were slightly perplexed by its design. Crossover SUVs were not exactly popular back then, but Honda took a risk––and that risk paid off. Originally debuting in Japan in 1995, the CR-V was larger than what that country’s guidelines allowed for compact cars, yet Honda found success in the American market.

Year after year, the CR-V has made quite a splash. It has the personality of the smaller Honda Civic, with exponentially more space available in the passenger and cargo areas. There are also a lot of fantastic tech features that have been added over the years. Just look through our inventory for a used Honda CR-V for sale and see for yourself how a model from even a few years ago is well-equipped with modern technology.

This “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle” (or, alternatively, “Compact Recreational Vehicle”––we will leave that debate for a later time) is undeniably fun to drive. The technology included in the CR-V these days really serves to make life on the road a lot easier and more enjoyable. But how did Honda get it to be so refined? What were the older CR-V generations like in terms of tech? Let’s take a deep dive into how technology has evolved on the Honda CR-V over the course of its six generations.

The First Generation (1997-2001)

The technology on the first generation of the Honda CR-V was, by today’s standards, sparse. But back in 1997, Honda equipped the CR-V with some functional and user-friendly features. Honda put an AM/FM stereo in the vehicle, and a digital clock was included along the dash. A four-speaker sound system was also built into the cabin, emitting a reasonable amount of sound with decent audio quality. However, a CD player was an option accessory.

The Second Generation (2001-2006)

The second generation saw some additions made to the CR-V in terms of technology. For example, a CD and cassette player was made a standard feature, giving you more than just AM/FM radio for listening to audio. Further, you could upgrade to a multi-disc CD changer and a six-speaker sound system for enhanced sound quality. Honda also included a pair of 12-volt power outlets for accessories––one in the front, one in the cargo area.

In 2005, the Honda CR-V was redesigned. A Special Edition (SE) debuted for that model year, equipping the two front seats with a heating function. Heated side mirrors were also provided, but the entertainment technology was not given any significant upgrades. Major tech changes were on the horizon, but Honda was not quite there yet.

A blue 2011 Honda CR-V is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has a used Honda CR-V for sale.

The Third Generation (2007-2011)

The 2007 model marked a massive redesign for the Honda CR-V, marking the introduction of the third generation. A four-speaker sound system is standard on the base LX trim level and is accompanied by an auxiliary input jack. This setup includes a CD player that drivers can use to keep themselves entertained, but drivers can also plug in their MP3 players if they want to listen to a broader range of music. The EX trim level upgrades the CD player with a CD changer and adds a six-speaker sound system.

On the EX-L trim level, Satellite Radio is included as a standard feature. What’s more, the EX-L allowed buyers to opt for a DVD-based navigation system package. This system comes with a rear subwoofer, an enhanced stereo amplifier, a backup camera, and a PC card reader. Parking sensors could be installed by Honda dealers on the lower CR-V trims if buyers wanted them equipped, and a backup camera accompanies the navigation system in the CR-V for extra safety precautions.

The Fourth Generation (2012-2016)

The 2012 model year marked the introduction of the fourth generation of the Honda CR-V, and it showcased a much longer list of features. It was in this year that Honda really got with the times by adding an SMS text messaging function (with six preset responses that could be issued as a reply to an incoming text played over the car’s audio) and Pandora internet radio. The rearview camera and Bluetooth features became standard across the entire CR-V lineup, and a rear DVD entertainment system opened up as an option for the very first time.

In 2015, Honda added a seven-inch touchscreen display to the EX trim and above. This touchscreen is paired with the Honda LaneWatch blind spot monitoring system. On the line-topping Touring trim level, buyers get even more advanced driver aids, including Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control. This trim level also features standard HD Radio and a navigation system.

The Fifth Generation (2017-2022)

Big changes were soon on the horizon again with the fifth generation’s debut for the 2017 model year. Sure, the exterior styling was completely overhauled, taking a rather unassuming physical presence into the realm of “Wow!” However, the interior also received a vast number of upgrades, including those to entertainment and safety technology.

Smartphone app integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was made standard on all trim levels save for the base LX. This allows users to sync their smartphones to the infotainment system and use their favorite phone-based apps at their discretion. The LX comes with a standard five-inch LCD for the infotainment system, but stepping up to the EX trim delivers a seven-inch touchscreen.

The EX also adds a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, a Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Monitor, Auto High-Beam Headlights, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and a Collision Mitigation Braking System. There is also a set of USB charging ports for the second row. Upgrading to the EX-L brings an eight-speaker sound system with available HD Radio, and the Touring adds a subwoofer.

A mid-cycle refresh was in order for the 2020 model year. This CR-V gained the Honda Sensing suite of advanced driver aids as a standard feature. The Touring was upgraded with a wireless charging pad for Qi-compatible wireless devices.

A grey 2023 Honda CR-V is shown from the front at an angle.

The Sixth Generation (2023-Present)

Honda realized that the fifth generation’s touchscreen system was somewhat outdated and in need of an overhaul––along with the rest of the CR-V! That brought about the introduction of the sixth generation. Honda made its smartphone app integration wireless, and the line-topping Sport Touring trim level packs a stellar 12-speaker Bose premium audio system and an integrated navigation system that is easy to follow along with and find points of interest. This particular trim level also comes with a heated steering wheel, interior ambient lighting, and other unique features.

A Vehicle of the Future With a Tech-Laden Past

The Honda CR-V sure has come a long way from having just a digital clock and AM/FM radio. The 2024 Honda CR-V dishes out technology that is both user-friendly and contemporary in its design. There is no way that you will feel like you are driving a model that somehow got stuck in the past, even if you pick up a used CR-V from a couple of years ago. Should you decide to visit our dealership and take a CR-V out for a test drive, you will find out for yourself just how technologically sound this compact SUV really is.