Honda struck pay dirt with the original CR-V back in 1997. It appeared that they found a good vehicle to lead the SUV charge for the brand. It is not to discredit the rebadged Isuzu Rodeo known as the Passport, but the original CR-V was the result of learning how to produce one that attracted the right customer with its capabilities and overall design.
There is some truth to this. Consider how the first generation RX-7 became an icon by focusing their rotary engine development towards performance to engage with enthusiasts looking for something different in the marketplace. One could argue that the 626 had a sporty demeanor that could be seen as a 3-Series fighter – sort of.
Translation: Japanese cars were thought of as cheap tin boxes that would never make it through a Minnesota winter. That was the mentality of the American consumer until the last couple of decades. It does help that several Japanese automakers set up shop building vehicles on our soil to change our collective minds.
The turn of the 1970s was a time of transition. It was clear that Richard Nixon wasn't going anywhere. His administration oversaw the first landing on the moon by human beings, but the escalating war in Vietnam dogged his leadership. In 1968, many thought Nixon was the peace candidate for President. He would end up sending more USA troops into Southeast Asia.