In spite of the wintry blast we received this past weekend, the quest for wheels continued today. At least our sales guy didn't come out and say, "Oh it's you again". The search seems never ending. Today was another round of SUVs. As you recall, last time it was the Highlander and Escape. Now it was a 2002 CR-V and a 2003 RAV4. Both were great vehicles and I didn't dislike either, other than the color, they were both black.
I should state that the terms I use when describing steering are not technical terms, but just me trying to describe how it feels compared to other vehicles, and that aspect that is important to me.
The RAV4 steering had a softer feel than I have been used to, and the 2.0 litre engine seemed to lack get up and go on the highway. There were some nice features including front wheel drive, the outside temperature and a compass on the rear view mirror, the gear stick was on the floor, and it had a center console, albeit a small one.
The CR-V had a nicer ride, it seemed more solid on the road (it was a 4WD and had a 2.4 litre engine), and the steering was more solid, too, although my DH didn't like it as well. The gear stick was on the dash, which is not my choice, but it was OK. It did not have a console, but a cup holder/tray that would fold down to allow access to the back seat. Helpful, but I would prefer a console. I went down some streets that were not cleared, but not slick. It powered through with no problem. On the highway, I felt secure, and it had good power and smooth acceleration.
With regard to ease of parking, I honestly didn't park the RAV4 other than just to stop in an empty parking lot to change drivers. I successfully parked the CR-V between two cars in a 90 degree spot. I cheated and pulled through instead of backing up, so I parked again but this time beside a car with no car on the passenger's side. I find that the shorter wheelbase and tighter turning circle presents a different challenge in that one can cut the wheel too soon when backing up. It is something that would take practice, but is not a negative like the car being too long.
The down sides to both, other than color, were the lack of power seat controls and cloth seating. They put in a sunroof, but no power seats. Go figure. I understand that the CR-V isn't available with these options until the 2009 model. That pushes the price point out of my ballpark. The search continues...