Honda put what in the back?

As the facelifted Honda CR-V arrives, the CarAdvice team gets chatting…

Honda’s story is one of clever engineering.

Its founder, Soichiro Honda, is recognised as the key protagonist in this tale. He was the sort of guy that held a private pilot’s licence aged in his 70s. His wife was equal-minded, also flying planes late into her senior years, too.

Honda’s famed motorcycles first rose to stardom. During the 1960s, under Soichiro’s watch, its American subsidiary sold a million examples in less than 10 years.

Later on in the 1980s, by this time well-vested in passenger cars, it introduced the world’s first traction control system for front-wheel-drive vehicles.

Such innovation continued through the 1990s and 2000s, with technologies like ‘VTEC’ (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control), and products like the Honda Insight, elevating the brand’s perception to being a contemporary technological leader.

We were discussing some of Honda’s past recently, as a new, facelifted 2021 Honda CR-V rolled into the CarAdvice Sydney garage. You can find that review here.

That conversation started with the first and second generation CR-Vs factory-fitted picnic table…

Let’s take you through that, and some of the other, more peculiar sides to Honda’s fascinating engineering story.

Honda CR-V picnic table

The 2021 Honda CR-V is full of gear. It features every gizmo, gadget and acronym you that can shake a stick at.

However, it’s missing something the first-generation CR-V had.

A built-in picnic table.

The original Honda CR-V launched in 1996, and was based on the ‘EK’ Honda Civic platform of the same era. Technically this was Honda’s second SUV – Its first was a little more interesting.

This era was truly the genesis for the SUV, as the BMW X5 – which proclaimed to be the ‘first’ – was still three years away.

Honda was ahead of the times with the CR-V, and assumed owners would be using the jaunty wagon for lifestyle activities.

Its token gift of appreciation came in the form of a useful inclusion in the boot – something we’ll come to learn that Honda has previous form with.

The floor of the cargo area was in fact a removable plastic table with fold out legs.

Picnic anywhere, anytime.

What’s a picnic without a few bevvies, though?

Honda’s already covered bases. Due to the use of the Civic’s floorplan, there remained a spare-wheel recess, underneath the boot floor.

It went unused, as the CR-V actually had its tyre mounted on its tailgate. As a result, this ex-spare wheel recess became your new esky.

The picnic table was included on first (1996-2001) and second (2001-2006) generation CR-V models, but sadly dropped from that point on.


Isn’t it great when an innovative Japanese brand goes off the Richter?

Honda’s Motocompo is a manifestation of such philosophy.

Back in the 1980s, Honda became concerned with the levels of traffic grid-lock it was seeing globally.

Its solution – which is still being explored by European brands to this day – was ‘last mile mobility’.

In Honda’s case, this solution meant a cute, 49cc fold-up scooter. Its was engineered and proportioned to slot into the back of two of its small cars – its Today, and City models.

In fact, it’s believed that the Honda City’s cargo area was in fact designed with the Motocompo in mind.

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The name of the game was for the owner to park their car a few miles out from work, bust out the Motocompo, and have a right laugh, whilst reducing congestion, over that last mile.

Peugeot has reimagined this idea for today, as has Mercedes-Benz, more recently.

Motocompos have become a cult classic in their own right, and are worth in multiple thousands of dollars.


This next one is less cool, more parent-cool. Or daggy-cool, depending who you talk to.

At the 2013 New York international motor show, Honda revealed a facelifted version of its fourth-generation US-spec people mover, the Odyssey.

As part of the new model, Honda had collaborated with the inventors of the wet-dry vacuum, Shop-Vac.

Together, they integrated a vacuum cleaner in the rear boot section of the Odyssey. It features a replacement filter and debris bag, as well as offer storage for attachments, and a hose.

I’m sure all parents reading this are wistfully swooning at the idea of an integrated vacuum cleaner in their car.

As a result of such likely behavior, Honda still offers its HondaVAC in the current, American-spec Honda Odyssey.

What do you love about Honda?

Do you own a Motocompo?

Have an interesting story that involves a CR-V picnic table?

Let us know in the comments below.

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