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Missing piece: Honda rules out large SUV expansion with new CR-V set to step up and challenge Toyota Kluger, Hyundai Santa Fe and Mazda CX-8

The new, larger Honda CR-V will give the brand a long-awaited option for bigger families.

The imminent arrival of the new-generation Honda CR-V will finally fill in the biggest gap in the Japanese brand’s line-up.

The just-introduced all-new ZR-V gives the brand two mid-size SUVs at present, but that will soon change with the longer and wider new CR-V set to take on the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-8 and Toyota Kluger.

“It’s really, really soon,” said Honda’s Chief Operating Officer, Carolyn McMahon, about the new CR-V. “It’s around the corner.”

While there’s no official date for it to reach Australian showrooms, McMahon’s comments indicate it’s likely to be before the end of 2023. Which makes sense as the car was first revealed globally in July 2022.

The new CR-V is 59mm longer, 10mm wider and has had its wheelbase increased by 40mm, which pushes it out of its current competitive set of the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Tucson and Mazda CX-5. Instead, it will give the brand a long-awaited rival to the larger Kluger, Santa Fe, CX-8 and similar-sized large SUVs.

The new CR-V is only 91mm shorter than the current Santa Fe, 35mm narrower and only 65mm shorter in the wheelbase.

For McMahon the arrival of the bigger, new CR-V will give the brand a more comprehensive line-up of SUVs to appeal to a broader customer base.

The just-introduced all-new ZR-V gives Honda two mid-size SUVs at present.

“Once we have that full SUV line-up, [we will] really [be] catering to different activities for customers, different lifestyles, different life stages,” she said.

It also effectively ends the years of speculation and questioning of Honda Australia’s plans for the US-designed Pilot. That has been the brand’s largest SUV but only being available in left-hand drive has stopped it from joining the local line-up, despite the obvious need for a bigger SUV. However, McMahon isn’t closing the door to any future large SUVs that could be introduced to our market.

“Nothing planned,” McMahon said when asked about the Pilot. “But we’d always be open to a right-hand-drive product that’s right for our market.”

When the new CR-V arrives, it will seemingly complete the brand’s line-up in the short-term with the HR-V and ZR-V SUVs, and the Civic and Accord hatch and sedan, with McMahon not committing to any significant expansion at present.

The arrival of the new-gen CR-V will finally fill in the biggest gap in Honda's line-up.

“We want to provide good-quality models where the demand is from customers,” she said. “We’ll always continually scan global Honda to see what we can bring to this market.”

While that will seemingly limit the brand’s growth potential, McMahon isn’t concerned, saying Honda’s focus remains on hitting its previously-stated goal of 20,000 sales per year.

“Keep in mind, we’re not necessarily going to be playing the volume game and pushing for significant growth,” she said.

McMahon said she is confident Honda will be able to achieve its sales targets with the addition of the ZR-V and new CR-V as well as improved supply.

Stephen Ottley
Contributing Journalist
Steve has been obsessed with all things automotive for as long as he can remember. Literally, his earliest memory is of a car. Having amassed an enviable Hot Wheels and Matchbox collection as a kid he moved into the world of real cars with an Alfa Romeo Alfasud. Despite that questionable history he carved a successful career for himself, firstly covering motorsport for Auto Action magazine before eventually moving into the automotive publishing world with CarsGuide in 2008. Since then he's worked for every major outlet, having work published in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age,, Street Machine, V8X and F1 Racing. These days he still loves cars as much as he did as a kid and has an Alfa Romeo Alfasud in the garage (but not the same one as before... that's a long story).
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