The folks with the fancy MBAs like to call it the “first-mover advantage.” Discover a need or niche and fill it before the competition does. If your product resonates with consumers you’ll likely get a lock on the market.
And that’s precisely what happened when Honda introduced the original CR-V, 15 years ago, creating what is now one of the fastest-growing niches in the automotive market: the compact crossover. The Honda CR-V has been the perennial favorite among American shoppers – though the king has tumbled down the hill in recent months as the result of production shortages caused by the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan last March.
Now, as its plants slowly get back to normal, the Japanese maker is ready to roll out a fourth-generation of its compact CUV, but whether the 2012 Honda CR-V can regain its lead remains to be seen. It has a lot going for it, like an easy-to-use, 1-touch system for folding down the rear seats. But the crossover also suffers from a few glaring flaws — notably a numb new steering system — that could provide an opening for the next-generation 2012 Ford Escape, the outgoing domestic model already outselling the CR-V.