Junkyard Gem: 2001 Honda CR-V with 403,757 miles

Several readers have suggested that I document some early compact crossover SUVs during my junkyard travels, making the point that these little truck-influenced machines went on to squeeze most small hatchbacks and sedans out of the showrooms and are thus historically significant. Junkyard Gems are all about automotive history, of course, so I set out to shoot some interesting examples of the early Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V in their final parking spots (a first-gen Ford Escape appeared in this series

a few years back). Here’s a first-gen CR-V with an impressive final number showing on its odometer, found in a Northern California boneyard recently.

Most other U.S.-market Honda and Acura models had gone to electronic odometers by the time this car was built, but the 1997-2001 CR-V has an old-fashioned mechanical unit that can be read without powering up the car’s ECU

. This is the sixth discarded Honda I’ve found that traveled better than 400,000 miles during its life, joining a list that includes a 1983 Accord, a 1988 Accord, another 1988 Accord, a 1991 Accord and a 1996 Civic. I’ve probably walked right by many more such cars, but Honda only started using six-digit odometers here in 1981.

The first-generation CR-V was sold here for the 1997 through 2001 model years, and its chassis was derived from that of the sixth-generation Civic

. This one is an entry-level 2WD LX, with front-wheel drive.

It’s a tall Civic at heart, the successor to the Civic Wagovans of the 1980s. The list price was $18,750, or about $32,321 in 2023 dollars.

As is the case with most extreme-high-mile vehicles I find in car graveyards, the interior in this one looks pretty good.

Under the hood, a B20 DOHC straight-four engine rated at 146 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque. Speed-crazed Civic owners often grab these engines for a cheap power upgrade, though most junkyard shoppers would think twice about buying this one after a glance at the odometer.

An automatic transmission was standard equipment in the 2001 CR-V 2WD LX, while the 4WD LX and 4WD EX trim levels got a five-speed manual (the automatic was an extra $800 for those two, about $1,379 today). The top-grade 4WD SE got a slushbox at no extra cost.

A clever feature of the early CR-V was this cargo-area cover that unfolded into a picnic table. Someone had bought the one out of today’s Junkyard Gem by the time I arrived, but I already own one that I grabbed from another junked CR-V


Why did it end up in a place like this, after 22 reliable high-mile years of service? It appears that it broke down on a San Francisco Bay Area freeway and was towed off by the Bay Area Freeway Service Patrol. Perhaps the engine or transmission finally gave up after the equivalent of more than 16 trips around the Earth’s equator and the owner couldn’t or wouldn’t pay for repairs.

Just the car you need for Mars. The JDM ads for the early CR-V featured copyrighted music by Billy Joel or Elton John and thus can’t be embedded here.