Honda CR-V, the fourth generation of the compact sport utility vehicle (SUV), that 17 years ago helped define the soft-roader segment, now comes in two-wheel or four-wheel drive variants.
Prices start with the base model 2WD six-speed manual VTi at just over $27,000, while the top 4WD VTi-L five-speed automatic rounds out the range at $42,000-plus.
Previously we had considered the Honda CR-V was overpriced for a plain ‘meat and three veg’ taste of compact SUV living. Thanks, as much as anything to a crowded market, that is a thing of the past with the latest CR-Vs.
Even in base model 2WD form, includes tilt and rake steering wheel, halogen headlights, multi-information display, cruise control with steering wheel-mounted buttons, reversing camera, integrated hands-free Bluetooth phone and audio with MP3 and WMA capability, and USB connectivity. Satellite navigation and DVD are factory fitted options. We’ve been spending some time with the entry-level 2WD in five-speed automatic guise.
The 2.0-litre fitted to the VTi two-wheel drive test vehicle went about producing maximum power of 114 kW at 6500rpm, while torque topped out at 190Nm. Noise from the engine on offer – the 2.0-litre – is not intrusive.
Efficiency is the name of the game here with combined urban / highway fuel consumption put at 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Give or take the odd litre, that’s what the test vehicle came up with in day-to-day running.
To hit the target, the driver is given help by Eco Assist in which dual arcs of light around the speedo will glow green if a certain level of throttle control is exceeded, turning to white during heavy acceleration.
Further savings can be gained by engaging the Econ Mode via a button on the dashboard. This changes the mapping of the throttle system, ensuring a smooth increase in torque and better fuel economy. Further savings are made by its altering the operation of cruise control and air-conditioning system. The sacrifice with Econ Mode, of course, is performance, but that’s a small price to pay for paying a small price for fuel.
The designers and engineers have worked hard on Honda’s theme of ‘bigger on the inside, smaller on the outside’. At 22 mm shorter and 30 mm lower than its predecessor, the flat front makes a bold statement with its three-slat radiator grille and big Honda ‘H’, wraparound headlamps and aerodynamic bumper.
A sedan-style profile is augmented by large wheel arches spanning 17- or 18-inch wheels, the whole package completed with a more sculpted rear-light set-up than previously. The windscreen has been moved forward and the engine compartment reduced to give the driver a clearer view forward while manoeuvring.
Inside, the cabin is designed to give a feeling of openness. With the two front seats further apart than before, there is more shoulder room. In the back there is legroom to burn. The 60:40 split rear seat backs drop at the pull of a handle to clear the way for more cargo than before.
Occupants are further spoilt by a new level of cabin quietness thanks to engine and road noise being kept at bay by improved sound insulation in the floor plan, rear door and wheel arches, door frames, front bulkhead and bonnet.
Not quiet enough? There is an interesting hearing aid. What Honda calls a conversation mirror is attached to the sun glasses holder above the windscreen, so folk in front talking to rear-seat passengers can see their lips move. Obviously the driver should not use this when the vehicle is moving.
Electronic active safety gives confidence to the driver and his charges even in the most testing conditions, including the torrential rain and high winds encountered during our test period. All models in the new Honda CR-V range have stability assist with traction control, adaptive electric power steering which works against understeer and oversteer, and anti-skid brakes with emergency stop.
Passive safety is provided by a body structure developed by Honda to give optimum protection for occupants in crash situations, while the front of the CR-V has been designed to minimise injury to any pedestrian involved in an accident with the vehicle.
Occupants are looked after in the event of a crash by three-point seatbelts in all seating positions. There are dual stage front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, plus side curtain airbags on all outer seating positions.
Ride and handling are up there with the best in class, both with comfort and stability that are almost sedan-style.
The latest CR-V dishes up tasty features at competitive prices.
The complete Honda CR-V range is:
VTi 2WD: $27,490 (manual), $29,790 (automatic)
VTi 4WD: $32,790 (automatic)
VTi-S 4WD: $36,290 (automatic)
VTi-L 4WD: $42,290 (automatic)
Price: from $29,790 automatic
Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
Service interval: 10,000km/6 months
Safety rating: five star ANCAP
Spare: Full-size alloy
Engine: 114kW/190Nm 2-litre petrol four-cylinder; 140kW/222Nm 2.4-litre petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual (FWD only) or five-speed automatic; FWD or AWD
Body: 4.5m (L); 1.8m (w); 1.7m (h)
Thirst: 7.8-8.7L/100km, tank 58 litres; 182-201g/km CO2