Why does my Honda CR-V have an off-center steering wheel?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

I just bought a new Honda CR-V. As I drove away from the dealership, I discovered that the steering wheel is canted slightly to the left, so that the left side of the wheel is farther away from me than the right side. I took it right back to the dealer and was told that all CR-Vs are made this way. This would work for me if my left arm were longer than my right. I guess most people don't notice it, but now that I have, I can't "un-notice" it. Why would they make the car this way? -- Nancy

TOM: It's a matter of convenience, Nancy. Their convenience, not yours.

RAY: There are other cars that have this odd characteristic, and most people never notice it. It's usually done because -- for some design reason -- the manufacturer couldn't put the steering column exactly where it wanted to.

TOM: I'm not sure exactly what necessitated an off-center steering wheel in the CR-V. Usually, it's some insignificant piece of equipment -- like the transmission, engine or suspension -- that would not allow the steering column to be placed exactly perpendicular to the front axle.

RAY: In the case of the CR-V, the vehicle was originally designed as a right-hand-drive vehicle for the Japanese home market. So it had to be modified, after the fact, for the United States.

TOM: And rather than redesign a crucial, expensive component, or widen or lengthen the wheelbase of the car, they got it as close as they could and figured it was good enough. And for most people, it is.

RAY: But not for you, Nancy. So unless you want to look into getting your left arm stretched, I'm afraid you'll have to either get used to it or trade it in for something else. Sorry.

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