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2005 vs. 2006 Honda CR-V: Which Is Better?

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Near identical second-generation models, the 2005 and 2006 Honda CR-Vs really only differ when it comes to pricing, safety ratings, and front-wheel drive availability. 
Both sturdy and practical, the Honda CR-V helped introduce the world to the “cute ute” or “mini ute.” It’s a small SUV on a car-based platform with more agility than some truck-based midsize SUVs. 
Since 1997, the CR-V has continued to find that happy medium between family car and rugged SUV. Its second-generation models easily boast superior handling and ample engine power, despite having four cylinders to some competitors’ V6s. 
If you come across either a 2005 or 2006 Honda CR-V at the used car lot, determining which SUV is the better option may be difficult. So, read on for an in-depth comparison. From pricing differences to individual safety ratings, here’s how the 2005 and 2006 Honda CR-Vs compare. 

2005 Honda CR-V vs. 2006 Honda CR-V: what’s the difference?

The 2005 Honda CR-V marked a mid-cycle refresh from the 2004 CR-V design. Changes included bigger 16-inch wheels, new headlights and taillights, a two-bar grille, and longer bumpers—all of which carried over to the 2006 model. 
Frankly, the 2005 and 2006 CR-Vs couldn’t be more alike. Sandwiched between the 2005 facelift and the 2007 third-generation redesign, both models match each other most closely in nearly every cosmetic and mechanical aspect. Truly, the only notable differences are slight variations in pricing and an added front-wheel drive
EX trim
configuration for the 2006 CR-V. 
To get a better idea of how these models compare, let’s take a closer look at some specs and ratings. 

Pricing

Though
pricing on the used car market
varies by location and vehicle condition, the 2005 Honda CR-V is generally $200 to $500 cheaper than the 2006 CR-V in every trim. You’re going to end up paying the most for the
SE trim
in either model, but considering the SE’s niceties—like leather upholstery and heated seats—this is to be expected. 
Here’s a look at the fair market ranges for each four-wheel-drive (4WD) configuration according to Kelley Blue Book. 
Model
2005 fair market range
2006 fair market range
Honda CR-V LX 
$3,186 to $6,397
$3,564 to $6,823
Honda CR-V EX
$3,783 to $7,022
$3,898 to $7,195
Honda CR-V SE
$4,070 to $7,383 
$4,271 to $7,600
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Though Kelley Blue Book does not list fair market values for the 2005 CR-V’s front-wheel-drive (FWD) configuration in the LX trim or the 2006 CR-V’s FWD configuration in the LX or EX trim, these models tend to cost a little less than their 4WD alternatives. 
That said, used car prices are also at a record high, so you may find used 2005 and 2006 Honda CR-Vs listed for as much as $10,000 or $11,000. These inflated prices are due to widespread microchip shortages and a lack of new vehicle inventory, which has led to greater demand and lower supply in the used car market. 
Cars.com reports that average used car prices have jumped by about 37% since 2019—this may be a useful number to keep in mind when gauging used CR-V prices today. 
MORE: Are Hondas expensive to maintain?

General specs

Aside from the 2006 CR-V’s front-wheel drivetrain for the EX trim, not much differs under the hood of the 2005 or 2006 Honda CR-V. Each model and trim gets the same four-cylinder engine with i-VTEC technology for optimized fuel economy. 
A five-speed automatic transmission comes standard on all but the 2006 4WD EX trim, which has a five-speed manual transmission instead—an option for the 2005 EX trim. 
Maximum ground clearance is a reasonable 8.1 inches for both model years. But aside from decent winter confidence thanks to its Vehicle Stability Assist anti-lock brake system, neither CR-V is much of an off-roader. 
The 2005 Honda CR-V barely beats out the 2006 Honda CR-V when it comes to torque—162 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM vs 160 lb-ft @ 3,600 RPM. And both vehicles have the same tight 33.8 feet turning radius for sharp maneuvering. 
Here’s a rundown of these (mostly shared) powertrain and drivetrain specs:
2005 Honda CR-V
2006 Honda CR-V
Engine
2.4-liter four-cylinder (156 horsepower)
2.4-liter four-cylinder (156 horsepower)
Transmission
CVT (standard) or manual (available on EX)
CVT (standard) or manual (available on EX)
Drivetrain
FWD (LX), 4WD (LX, EX, SE)
FWD (LX, EX), 4WD (LX, EX, SE)
Maximum towing capacity
1,500 lbs
1,500 lbs

Fuel economy

Thanks to Honda’s i-VTEC technology, both the 2005 and 2006 CR-V feature intelligent fuel-saving variable valve timing, which gives them decent fuel efficiency for their model year. Considering the identical powertrains between models, it may come as no surprise that the 2005 Honda CR-V and 2006 Honda CR-V have identical mileage ratings, as well. 
Here’s a look at how each model’s fuel efficiency adds up based on transmission and drivetrain: 
  • CVT transmission w/ 2WD: 23 mpg city / 26 mpg highway / 20 mpg combined
  • CVT transmission w/ 4WD: 22 mpg city / 25 mpg highway / 20 mpg combined 
  • Manual transmission w/ 4WD: 21 mpg city / 24 mpg highway / 19 mpg combined 
To save the most at the pump in the CR-V, you’ll want to opt for either a 2WD LX trim in either model or a 2WD EX in the 2006 model. 
MORE: How to choose the best gasoline or fuel for your car
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Safety ratings

Here’s where the 2005 Honda CR-V and 2006 CR-V may differ the most. The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
released five-star crash test ratings for the 2005 Honda CR-V but did not release public ratings for the 2006 model. That said, it is publicly known that the 2005 Honda CR-V has 14 formal recalls from NHTSA and the 2006 Honda CR-V has 13
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the 2006 model is safer, though. The overall reliability rating for the 2006 Honda CR-V on Consumer Reports is 3 out of 5. Its most common trouble spots are anti-lock brake failure and wear in the drive system components, like the wheel bearings and CV joints. Because of this, the brake system received a 1 out of 5 consumer rating, and the drive system received a 2 out of 5
The 2005 Honda CR-V did slightly better amongst consumers with a 4 out of 5 overall reliability rating. Common issues are worn-down chips in the anti-lock brake computer and AC electric failures. The brake system got a 3 out of 5 rating as a result. The climate system got a 3 out of 5, as well. 
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave each model year identical crashworthiness safety ratings. Both received a top “Good” score for frontal and side crash safety but the lowest “Poor” score when it comes to head restraints and seats. This is because center rear head restraints were found to be too low to prevent whiplash in taller passengers.
MORE: How to find vehicle safety ratings 

Styling and interior changes

If you stepped inside a Honda CR-V and had to guess if it was a 2005 or 2006 model—chances are you couldn’t. Almost nothing changed between model years in appearance and layout
Therefore, you can expect the following style, comfort, and tech in your ride no matter which CR-V model year you choose: 
  • 33.5/72.0 cubic feet of min/max cargo volume
  • 60/40 split-folding rear seat 
  • 16-inch alloy wheels 
  • New (from 2004) cylindrical headlamps 
  • Easier-to-see turn signals from 2004 model
  • Standard cruise control 
  • Six-disc in-dash CD player 
  • Collapsible front seat compartment (w/ cup holders and cell phone recess) 
  • 21 storage nooks throughout the cabin  
  • Keyless entry (EX, SE trims) 
  • Moonroof (EX, SE trims) 
  • Steering wheel audio controls (EX, SE trims) 
  • Heated leather seats (SE trim only) 
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob (SE trim only) 
  • Heated mirrors (SE trim only) 
  • Body-colored trims instead of gray bumpers (SE trim only)
If you’re looking for the comfiest and coolest-looking CR-V, you’re going to want to look for an SE model of either year. Otherwise, the EX trim offers more versatile drivetrain options (in the 2006 model) with some of the interior amenities you may be looking for.  

2005 Honda CR-V vs. 2006 Honda CR-V: which should you buy?

Honestly, both the 2005 Honda CR-V and 2006 Honda CR-V are so similar that you’re best bet is to base your decision on the individual vehicle
Some things to look for when buying a used car include maintenance records, tire condition, and accident history. You’ll also want to look into which features, drivetrain, and transmission system are listed for each used car, especially if there are specific amenities you can’t live without. 
Bottom Line Go with the CR-V that satisfies most of your preferences for the best price and quality—regardless of which model year that is.  
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Reviewed by Jessa Claeys.
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