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Honda CR-V VTi 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
7.5
The fifth-generation CR-V continues the Honda renaissance; yet another excellently appointed, practical and good-value vehicle from a Japanese brand that has taken its boring clothes off, at last.

The days of self-imposed automotive purgatory are well and truly behind Honda, with the brand now finding itself on something of a roll in Australia.

The all-new Civic is crazy practical (while the Type R version is just straight-up crazy), the HR-V is doing big things in the small SUV segment, and even the halo NSX supercar  is… well, it’s not doing much of anything, to be fair. But it’s undeniably cool, even if few Aussies are stumping up for one.

And having just spent a week with the fifth-generation CR-V, tested here in entry-level VTi guise, we’ve got a feeling that winning form will be continuing for a while yet.

Honda CR-V 2017: VTi (2WD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$27,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

Most important, perhaps, is that it doesn’t feel over-designed, with Honda’s crayon-wielders penning a more subdued design than the one you’d find on the Civic.

Outside, you'll find black-on-silver 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Outside, you'll find black-on-silver 17-inch alloy wheels. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Outside, black-on-silver 17-inch alloy wheels, a single sharp body line and a little aggression around the wheel arches keeps the side profile calm enough. And while the front end - with its big and plastic-wrapped grille, swept-back headlights and bottom-mounted fog lights - doesn’t look overdone, it does give the CR-V a strong road presence.

Special mention up front goes to the LED DRLs, which sweep under the headlights, while a clever design quirk makes them look like they continue into the centre of the grille.

The rear view is less convincing, though, with the CR-V looking too tall and skinny from the back, but the twin exhaust tips (even on this base-level VTi) add a little flair.

  • The fact that advanced technology like AEB and lane-keep assist aren't standard here is a real misfire from Honda. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The fact that advanced technology like AEB and lane-keep assist aren't standard here is a real misfire from Honda. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)
  • Keep it humming along around the early to middle of its rev range, and the 1.5-litre engine feels plenty capable of shifting the VTi’s 1536kg mass. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Keep it humming along around the early to middle of its rev range, and the 1.5-litre engine feels plenty capable of shifting the VTi’s 1536kg mass. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Inside, the cabin is anything but entry-level, with the digital driver’s binnacle, cleanly designed infotainment screen and red-glowing start button all adding a sense of premium to the VTi’s cabin.

Elsewhere, the two-tone cloth seats are ribbed through the centre, and the materials all feel fine to the touch.

How practical is the space inside?   8/10

In a word? Very. The CR-V is a big car, and it feels it in the cabin, with upfront riders treated to plenty of space to move about. There are two cupholders, as well as two bonus storage spaces; a shallow bin, and a deeper-than-Atlantis central storage space that can be split into sections courtesy of a sliding separator. Two 12-volt power sources, twin USB ports and a HDMI connector make up a strong tech offering up front.

The CR-V is a big car, and it feels it in the cabin. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The CR-V is a big car, and it feels it in the cabin. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Climb into the back seat and the space is genuinely ridiculous; you could fill it with water and host pool parties back there. You’d need a tape measure to accurately measure the space between my knees and the front seat to my own (five-foot, nine-inch) driving position, and there’s plenty of clear air between my head and the roof, too.

There are two USB connections for backseat riders, and air vents that lack temperature controls. The pull-down seat divider is home to two bonus cupholders and there’s space in every door for bottles. The backseat is also home to three ISOFIX attachment points.

The boot is a large, flat area, with simple handles to drop the 60:40 split rear seats. Seats up, there's 522 litres to play with, with that number climbing to 1084 litres with them folded flat.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   8/10

Our VTi is the entry point to the CR-V range, sitting below the VTi-S (also available with all-wheel drive) the VTi-L and the VTi-LX.

At $30,690, the VTi isn’t the cheapest way into a mid-size SUV (the equivalent CX-5, for example, will set you back $29,890, while the 2017 VTi was $29,790)  but it does arrive admirably equipped.

Dual-zone climate, push-button start and power windows also make an appearance on the standard goodies list.

Expect 17-inch alloy wheels, proximity unlocking and twin chrome exhaust tips outside. Inside, the CR-V’s seven-inch touchscreen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped, and pairs with an eight-speaker stereo.

The driver’s binnacle is a customisable LCD display, too, while dual-zone climate, push-button start and power windows also make an appearance on the standard goodies list.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The VTi (like every CR-V) is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine which, on paper, doesn’t sound particularly suited to the job of shifting a big SUV. But in real-world conditions, and especially in the city, the 140kW at 5600rpm and 240Nm at 2000rpm on offer never feels underdone.

The VTi (like every CR-V) is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) The VTi (like every CR-V) is powered by a 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

That engine pairs with a CVT automatic, sending its power to the front wheels in our test car, or all four should you spring for a model further up the family tree.

How much fuel does it consume?   7/10

Honda claims a 7.0L/100km fuel use figure on the combined cycle, but the on-board computer was reading a smudge over 10 litres after a week of mostly urban use.

Emissions are a claimed 160g per kilometre of C02.

What's it like to drive?   8/10

It’s delightfully non-eventful, the CR-V. And I don’t mean that in an insulting way, more that it’s simple. Intuitive even. And while it doesn’t serve up much in the way of excitement, it doesn’t deliver any unwanted surprises either.

Keep it humming along around the early to middle of its rev range, and the 1.5-litre engine feels plenty capable of shifting the VTi’s 1536kg mass, and the single gearbox on offer, a CVT automatic, is actually refreshingly smooth and quiet in the city for a transmission of this type.

Inside, the CR-V’s seven-inch touchscreen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Inside, the CR-V’s seven-inch touchscreen is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto equipped. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

Some cracks do appear when you ask too much of the four-cylinder, with the drone of the gearbox suddenly becoming more apparent, and sadly not made up for by any benefit in increased forward momentum.

It’s also surprisingly flat through corners. Not in a sporting way, so much, but certainly in a way that inspires confidence behind the wheel. The steering feels connected to the road below, too, and the brakes are really very good, pulling up the big CR-V with ease.

But how it actually drives falls a distant second to the practicality on offer here, and the CR-V serves up plenty of cabin space, easy vision from the driver’s seat and, while it feels a big car, the fade-away bonnet makes navigating tight spots pretty easy.

A genuine all-rounder, then. And one that ticks plenty of SUV boxes.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   6/10

The CR-V VTi’s standard safety story begins with a swag of airbags including front, front-side and curtain, and adds the usual braking and traction aids like EBD and Stability Assist, as well as a tyre-pressure monitor.

 Seats up, there's 522 litres to play with, with that number climbing to 1084 litres with them folded flat. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton) Seats up, there's 522 litres to play with, with that number climbing to 1084 litres with them folded flat. (image credit: Andrew Chesterton)

The fact that advanced technology like AEB and lane-keep assist aren't standard here is a real misfire from Honda when you consider the strength of the safety offering put forward by its key competitors.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   8/10

Expect a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, with servicing require every 10,000km. Honda's capped-price servicing program limits the cost of each dealership visit to $295 for the first 10 services.

Verdict

It does a whole lot of things right, this entry-level CR-V, not least of which being the fact that it never feels like an entry-level car. Practicality in spades, comfortable and easy to drive and attractive to boot, it's only the level of standard safety offerings that disappoint in the CR-V VTi.

Is Honda back on track as a car company, and would you buy one? If so, which one?

Pricing Guides

$33,790
Based on 95 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$23,990
Highest Price
$39,900

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
LE (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $20,900 – 26,510 2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 LE (4x2) Pricing and Specs
LE (4x4) 2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $23,650 – 29,150 2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 LE (4x4) Pricing and Specs
VTi (2WD) 1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO $27,990 – 28,990 2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 VTi (2WD) Pricing and Specs
VTi (4x2) 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO $23,990 – 26,895 2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 VTi (4x2) Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7.5
Design7
Practicality8
Price and features8
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption7
Driving8
Safety6
Ownership8
Andrew Chesterton
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$25,490

Lowest price, based on 11 car listings in the last 6 months

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