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Bargain medium-SUV buyers should make a move on the current Honda CR-V right now, especially as stock numbers are high, because the next-generation version due late this year or in 2024 is expected to jump up in price significantly.
While the existing model launched back in 2017 ranges from $35,900 drive-away for the Vi 2WD with a 113kW/189Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine – making it one of the least-expensive medium SUVs in its segment – to $53,600 drive-away for the VTi-LX AWD with a 140kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbo, the newcomer is poised to kick off from about $50,000 or more (drive-away), and likely breach $70,000 drive-away for the high-tech flagship grade.
For starters, the new CR-V needs to move up to make space for the all-new ZR-V coming in May. Slotting in above the HR-V, the recently-confirmed Civic-based SUV is anticipated to begin from about $45,000 in its vital role as Honda's latest weapon against the Toyota Corolla Cross, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Forester and MG HS.
This, in turn, means that the new CR-V grows larger and wider than before, with a substantially longer wheelbase (up by 40mm) for a 15mm rear legroom stretch, the largest cargo capacity in the series' 27-year history and the continuation of an optional seven-seater configuration. Now it rises to better challenge the larger medium SUV set, including the all-conquering Toyota RAV4 hybrid, as well as the Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail e-Power and incoming Mazda CX-60.
Speaking of electrification, the 2024 CR-V will be the last model in the Japanese brand's shift to offer hybrids across its range in Australia, gaining its fourth-generation two-motor e:HEV hybrid system in higher grade five-seater versions, which in turn would likely see the price reach towards $70K and beyond.
Subsequently, at the other end of the range, the new CR-V will probably lose the base 2.0L engine opener, further distancing the newcomer from the current version's pricing structure. It is expected that a modified version of the existing 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine with improved turbo technology will be the mainstay powertrain, driving either the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Still on the subject of drive, an overhauled all-wheel-drive system (dubbed Real Time AWD in Honda-speak) adopts better traction management abilities, with the system now able to distribute up to 50 per cent of torque to the rear axle. The front tracks are also wider than before too.
The 2024 CR-V will also gain a whole lot more hardware as well as software tech as standard, which inevitably bumps up prices.
These include a much-stronger body structure that deflects crash forces away from occupants, a donut-shaped driver's airbag and three-chamber passenger airbag to help cradle the head to mitigate brain injury, front knee airbags, rear passenger-side impact airbags, wider-angle view side/rear camera views, blind-spot alert, low-speed braking control, traffic-sign recognition and driver-attention monitoring, as well as updated lane-keep and adaptive cruise control functionality.
Bigger wheels and tyres are also in the mix, eschewing today's standard 17-inch items for 18- and 19-inch hoops.
As with every CR-V in Australia since the third-gen RE debuted in 2007, the vehicle will be sourced from Thailand, as the latest model is neither made nor offered in Japan – that role has been taken over completely by the ZR-V.
Despite now being the oldest model in the company's line-up, the CR-V remained the best-selling Honda vehicle in Australia last year, accounting for over 57 per cent of all sales, while so far this year that's increased to nearly 77 per cent, underlining the importance of the medium SUV to its maker.
The CR-V was at the vanguard of Australia's wholesale move from large passenger cars like the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon to medium SUVs, launching in 1997. The 2024 RS series will be the sixth-gen version.