Honda may be prepping CR-V with 3-row seating for overseas markets

LOS ANGELES — Honda Motor Co. has been spotted testing a CR-V mule that looked like it’s flirting with a third row of seats for the next-generation model. But don’t bet on that coming to the U.S.

The single photo shows a prototype model shot from the side, with the distinctive CR-V taillights running up the rear of the car. The front is entirely covered, with a pair of bolt-on headlights sticking up from the hood.

But the most interesting bit is the rear door. Or, more specifically, its length. Blacked-out with camouflage tape, the door is conspicuously longer than on the current production CR-V. Could the next-gen CR-V, due in 2017, be available with a third row of seats?

Sources say yes, but not in the U.S.

Abroad, the CR-V competes against other compact crossovers with three rows, which are steadily becoming popular replacements for MPVs, those weird little minivans. Plus, adding a third row to the CR-V puts more space between it and the new HR-V globally.

But in the U.S., where the CR-V is the top-selling crossover, Honda has the Pilot and Odyssey to offer buyers looking for maximum people-moving capabilities. So expect this prototype to keep its residency elsewhere.

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