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Honda CR-V 2020 review: VTi-S AWD

Mid-size SUVs are very popular and the Honda CR-V is one of the segment's real contenders. 

The revised Honda CR-V line-up is expected here mid-year, but until then you might consider this: the CR-V VTi-S all-wheel drive.

It's a roomy five-seater wagon that looks pretty good and has plenty of safety tech and standard features – but is it any good? Read on.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and all-wheel drive.

This CR-V's price as tested is $36,490 (plus on-road costs).

  • It has AEB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker stereo and leather steering wheel. (image: Marcus Craft) It has AEB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker stereo and leather steering wheel. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • I did have some minor issues with with the CR-V’s 7.0-inch touchscreen. (image: Marcus Craft) I did have some minor issues with with the CR-V’s 7.0-inch touchscreen. (image: Marcus Craft)

It has AEB, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, eight-speaker stereo, leather steering wheel, power mirrors and tailgate, active cruise control, dusk sensing headlights, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist.

It also has a full-sized alloy spare spare wheel.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

All mid-sized SUVs have a generic look, I reckon. So unless a vehicle manufacturer's design team has been hitting the "magic water" too hard during sketch time, SUVs are usually pretty easy on the eye, albeit a tad boring, perhaps.

  • The Honda CR-V VTi-S all-wheel drive is a family-friendly mid-sized SUV suited to real life. (image: Marcus Craft) The Honda CR-V VTi-S all-wheel drive is a family-friendly mid-sized SUV suited to real life. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • The Honda CR-V is 4596mm long (with a 2660mm wheelbase), 1855mm wide, 1689mm high and it weighs 1597kg. (image: Marcus Craft) The Honda CR-V is 4596mm long (with a 2660mm wheelbase), 1855mm wide, 1689mm high and it weighs 1597kg. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • All mid-sized SUVs have a generic look, I reckon. (image: Marcus Craft) All mid-sized SUVs have a generic look, I reckon. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • The CR-V strikes a nice balance between being generic-esque and sharp enough to draw an admiring glance here and there. (image: Marcus Craft) The CR-V strikes a nice balance between being generic-esque and sharp enough to draw an admiring glance here and there. (image: Marcus Craft)

The CR-V strikes a nice balance between being generic-esque and sharp enough to draw an admiring glance here and there.

Inside is more pleasing with a nice-looking and considered lay-out replete with neat fit and finish and solid build quality all-round.

  • Inside is more pleasing with a nice-looking and considered lay-out. (image: Marcus Craft) Inside is more pleasing with a nice-looking and considered lay-out. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • It’s also a very impressive cabin: it's basic, it’s not spectacular, but, as mentioned, fit and finish is really nice, and build quality is solid. (image: Marcus Craft) It’s also a very impressive cabin: it's basic, it’s not spectacular, but, as mentioned, fit and finish is really nice, and build quality is solid. (image: Marcus Craft)

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

This CR-V has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine (producing 140kW at 5600rpm and 240Nm at 2000-5000rpm), a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and, of course, an all-wheel-drive system.

It's all a tidy combination and, while some people may dislike CVTs in general, the CR-V's is fine.

This CR-V has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine (producing 140kW at 5600rpm and 240Nm at 2000-5000rpm). (image: Marcus Craft) This CR-V has a 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine (producing 140kW at 5600rpm and 240Nm at 2000-5000rpm). (image: Marcus Craft)

How practical is the space inside?

The Honda CR-V is 4596mm long (with a 2660mm wheelbase), 1855mm wide, 1689mm high and it weighs 1597kg. And it seems like Honda has really maximised every bit of space these dimensions afford the interior because there's plenty of room for everyone, so it makes for a comfortable space for longer road trips.

It's also a very impressive cabin: it's basic, it's not spectacular, but, as mentioned, fit and finish is really nice, and build quality is solid.

There are lots of storage spaces and I also like the fact that many of those storage spices have a grippy textured base that holds onto your bits and pieces, your cups so that even if the CR-V is bouncing around, on an uneven road or track surface, those stored items will stay where they are.

  • There’s plenty of room for everyone, so it makes for a comfortable space for longer road trips. (image: Marcus Craft) There’s plenty of room for everyone, so it makes for a comfortable space for longer road trips. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • The second-row seats have three top tether points and two ISOFIX points. (image: Marcus Craft) The second-row seats have three top tether points and two ISOFIX points. (image: Marcus Craft)

I did have some minor issues with with the CR-V's 7.0-inch touchscreen though: it's really not big enough. It's quite colourful and clear enough but I found it quite difficult to operate it and to sort out the functions.

Boot space is claimed to be 522 litres with the second-row seats in use. And back there, you get a power socket and tie-down points.

With the second row down and out of the way, there's a claimed combined 1084 litres of cargo space.

The second-row seats have three top tether points and two ISOFIX points.

  • Boot space is claimed to be 522 litres with the second-row seats in use. (image: Marcus Craft) Boot space is claimed to be 522 litres with the second-row seats in use. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • back there, you get a power socket and tie-down points. (image: Marcus Craft) back there, you get a power socket and tie-down points. (image: Marcus Craft)
  • With the second row down and out of the way, there’s a claimed combined 1084 litres of cargo space. (image: Marcus Craft) With the second row down and out of the way, there’s a claimed combined 1084 litres of cargo space. (image: Marcus Craft)

There are two cup holders in the centre fold-down arm-rest, as well as USB points and air-vent controls in the back of the centre console.

And it's comfortable – when I sat behind my driving position there's a fair bit of head, leg and knee room.

What's it like as a daily driver?

As mentioned, the CR-V's interior is an easy space in which to spend time.

The seats are fairly flat and straight up and down, but they do feel sculpted to your body and so they do feel snug.

On-road, it is a light and tight drive. It's quite manoeuvrable for a mid-size wagon. Steering is well-weighted with a nice overall feel to it.

The CR-V is right at home on city streets or suburban streets, even when they are very wet and slick as they were on several of our test days, especially the day we shot the accompanying video review.

Some people have a problem with CVTs – in that they strongly dislike them (mostly based on their experiences with CVTs of old) – but I don't have a problem with the transmission, especially in the CRV. It's non-intrusive, never slushing about to find the sweet spot.

The CR-V's suspension is quite firm for a city and/or suburbia-based people-mover, but never terrible.

There is some body-roll through corners but I did have to pitch the CR-V into those quite heavily to cause that.

The left-hand wing mirror / camera system, which kicks into action when you use the left indicator and shows the view down that side of the vehicle on the media screen, is a handy addition.

What's it like for touring?

The CR-V's all-wheel-drive system is a real bonus, as there's plenty of grip and it offers ample surefootedness on the aforementioned wet bitumen. An AWD system in something like the CR-V is aimed at giving the driver traction in low-traction situations, such as on a wet highway or a loosely-gravelled track – and it does more than a commendable job of achieving that.

Bear in mind, that AWD is not intended to transform the CR-V into a hard-core off-roader – but it would surprise a lot of people how much these vehicles are actually capable of.

Case in point: we took on a steep little-used road that consisted mostly of broken bitumen, peppered with gnarled tree roots and potholes. The CR-V did the entire stretch of road, up and down, with controlled momentum – no slipping tyres, no lost traction, no problem. Note: there's no need to heavy throttle in these types of conditions either; you simply maintain steady, sustained throttle.

Unbraked towing capacity is a claimed 600kg and braked towing capacity is 1500kg.

How much fuel does it consume?

Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, on a combined cycle.

It was showing 10.5L/100km on our dash, but our actual fuel consumption on test was: 9.1L/100km.

The Honda CR-V has a 57-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The CR-V has a five-year / unlimited km warranty. Service intervals are recommended at 12 months/10,000km.

If you're in the market for a light-duty mid-sized SUV that really is city-focused, you could do a lot worse than the Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD.

Fit and finish is nice, it's a nice thing to drive and it really is roomy: it's spacious, it's family friendly – and you have the bonus of that effective all-wheel drive system.

$36,490

Based on new car retail price

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Adventure score

3.5/5

adventureguide rank

  • Light

    Dry weather gravel roads and formed trails with no obstacles, very shallow water crossings.

  • Medium

    Hard-packed sand, slight to medium hills with minor obstacles in all weather.

  • Heavy

    Larger obstacles, steeper climbs and deeper water crossings; plus tracks marked as '4WD only'