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Honda CR-V to expand seven-seat availability, AEB limited to AWD

It's looking like the CR-V won't match the CX-5 for range-wide safety gear any time soon.

Unexpected demand for seven seats is set to spawn more variants, while active safety expansion won't be across the board, yet.

When the fifth-generation CR-V arrived on Australian shores in August last year, there were two clear chinks in the armour of the otherwise benchmark-setting new model. 

The fact that seven-seat packaging was limited to a sole variant was forgivable, given the relative rarity of such options in the mid-size SUV segment at the time of the CR-V's genesis. Less understandable, however was the lack of active safety equipment on all but the $44,290 top-spec VTi-LX. 

The CR-V's key mid-size SUV rivals come with at least AEB across the board, with the top-selling Mazda CX-5 adding rear auto emergency braking as well. 

Honda Australia acknowledged this shortfall at the time, and suggested such technology would be expanded to other variants in the near future. 

Speaking with Australian media this week, Honda reiterated their plans to expand availability of the 'Honda Sensing' suite of active safety features, but the timing of such an update is still yet to be confirmed.

Currently comprised of Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System (AEB), Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation System, and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, the addition of Honda Sensing across the CR-V board would align with the current status quo for its class. This would have also assured the top spot in our recent under $35k mid-size SUV comparo.

However, it's understood that Honda Sensing has at this stage only been engineered to suit all-wheel drive (AWD) versions of the CR-V, which suggests the expected incremental CR-V safety update will only see the technology expanded to other AWD variants.  

This would be despite two-wheel drive variants making up the majority of local sales, and also preclude the family-focused seven-seat layout currently not available with AWD. 

Given the existing line-up, at best this would mean the AWD version of the VTi-S in addition to the existing VTi-LX. 

Unexpected demand for the seven-seat VTi-L grade has driven plans for a separate expansion of seven-seat variants later this year. 

This could mean seven-seat versions of the VTi and VTi-S, in addition to the existing $38,990 VTi-L. A seven-seat CR-V in the low thirties makes a lot of sense, and would compete with similarly priced versions of the Mitsubishi Challenger and Nissan X-Trail which blazed the trail for such seating capacity within a mid-sizer. 

It would also bolster the growing number of smaller seven seaters which includes the Skoda Kodiaq and upcoming Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace.

Would a lack of AEB stop you from buying a CR-V? Tell us what you think in the comments below.