A True Crossover: Jacob Sanders’ Lifted 1998 Honda CR-V

Everyone thinks you need a Jeep or a pickup truck to go off-roading. Jacob Sanders showed us how he did it with his lifted AWD Honda CR-V. With a little help from Energy Suspension, Jacob’s crossover is now ready to take on the trails.

When most people think about Honda and off-roading, they think of bikes, quads, and UTVs. However, there are dedicated individuals that turn the versatile but pedestrian Honda CR-V into a rather impressive off-road rig. Jacob Sanders went further by making his CR-V take on a set of 34-inch tires.

In a classic case of trading up, Jacob exchanged his aging Acura Integra for this sweet 1998 Honda CR-V.

He sourced this CUV almost three years ago. He found his 1996 Acura Integra just wasn’t big enough for him. After some searching, Jacob found a CR-V owned by an electrician. The electrician used it as a work vehicle, but willingly traded it for the Integra.

The interior was thrashed, but after sourcing local pull-a-part yards, Jacob got the interior back into halfway decent shape. The off-roading and overlanding bug bit him after he helped his brother lift his 2014 Toyota 4Runner. The experience and the community encouraged him to make his CR-V into a proper trail rig. “It got me thinking that this overlanding and camping stuff looked like a lot of fun,” said Jacob. “Plus, the community around it was nothing like the car show or drift event community. Everyone was very supportive and wanted to see each other succeed.”

Unfortunately, he also found the off-road aftermarket support for the CR-V to be lacking. So, rather than give up on the project, Jacob went to work. He originally started with a 2.75-inch front and 3.25-inch rear spacer setup made by TheRoseFactory with a set of 32-inch BF Goodrich All-Terrain tires. He also included a set of Energy Suspension trailing arm bushings to replace the worn-out Honda parts.

The CR-V now rides on 34-inch BF Goodrich tires and uses Energy Suspension bushings to keep the suspension working properly. “While installing the lift, I realized that the 20-year old trailing arm bushings were shot,” said Jacob, “I went through the same company I’ve used for all the bushings on my vehicles, Energy Suspension. They always have awesome products I know I can count on and not to mention the ease of installation compared to an OEM bushing.”

Of course, once you go with 32s, you want a bigger set of tires. To that end, Jacob sourced a set of 285/75R17 tires on 2014 Toyota 4Runner wheels. These end up measuring nearly 34-inches in diameter, which required more than just the lift. Jacob needed a subframe drop, which he pieced together along with an HRG Engineering Civic lift kit. He also made a longer rear camber arm from steel. This also allowed Jacob to correct the suspension geometry and nearly eliminated any death wobble from that lift.

“My goal with this build was to get out and enjoy the outdoors,” explained Jacob. “I also wanted to have a bigger tire on my Honda than most Toyota or Jeep builds use.”

During the course of his modifications, Jacob purchased a custom QA1 spring and Ground Control spring sleeve setup from another CR-V owner for another inch of lift. Finally, a 2007 Honda Element rear differential replaced the original CR-V unit, which blew up after getting stuck in the mountains during a snowstorm. “I got stuck in the snowy mountains and, when the rear tire caught traction, the differential made a terrible noise and was bouncing in the rear mounts,” recalled Jacob. “I pulled the driveshaft on the side of the road and limped it home in the snow with only the front tires driving it!”

Another typically “Jeep only” thing that Jacob does with his CR-V is remove the front doors. This required hammering out the old door pins and modifying the hinges for a set of quick-connect Hillman square wire lock pins. To stay legal in his state, Jacob adapted a set of Jeep side mirrors, but also added a set of custom-made footpegs to attach to the lower hinges.

Here are some more highlights from Jacob’s build:

  • Exedy OEM replacement clutch
  • 1990 Toyota Landcruiser snorkel
  • Custom exhaust
  • Chrome 1993 Acura Integra turn signals as fog lights
  • Go Rhino roof basket
  • 24 triple LED rock lights
  • Six LED 2×2 pods mounted to the basket
  • Six 6.5-inch speakers
  • 10-inch subwoofer

This is the type of off-roading spirit we love to see, and we’ll be looking for more. Be sure to tag us in your social media posts and maybe you’ll end up as a short feature like Jacob’s CR-V. And don’t forget to check out Energy Suspension’s website and Facebook page for more information on their products.

Photography: Josh Wolff

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About the author

Justin Banner

Justin Banner started as a freelance journalist covering Formula Drift in 2007. His passion for motorsports is unrivaled and if it uses propulsion and wheels, he’s into it. Justin writes and creates content for a variety of organizations.
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