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Honda CR-V VTi-LX 2017 review

EXPERT RATING
8
The Honda CR-V VTi-LX sits at the very top of the range, and it's also the most expensive. But in a world in which you get what you pay for, it's also the one that makes the most sense.

There is actually no such thing as a Honda CR-V. Nope, it’s actually a Honda CR-V VTi. Or it’s a VTi-S, or a VTi-S AWD, or a VTi-L, or a VTi-LX. You still with me?

Good, because as well the five different versions, all with impossible to remember 'surnames', there is also nearly a $15k difference between the entry grade and the one this review covers - the top of the range VTi-LX.

So what’s the reward for paying more? Certainly nothing you can really notice from the outside. But Honda has saved some great features just for the VTi-LX, plus it’s arguably even more practical than the seven-seat version that sits below it in the lineup. 

Our test car spent a week with my family as we drove it into a perfect storm of three separate Father’s Days and three different birthdays. It was the ultimate pressure test for a family-focussed SUV. 

Honda CR-V 2017: VTI-LX (AWD)
Safety rating
Engine Type1.5L turbo
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.4L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$33,790

Is there anything interesting about its design?   8/10

Will people know you’re driving the top-spec VTi-LX just by looking at it. Probably not, unless they can tell the difference between LED and halogen headlights because those, along with the LED fog lights and the tinted rear windows, are the only outward differences between this car and the VTi-S or VTi-L below it in the range.

This new generation CR-V arrived in 2017 looking a lot like the previous one, only noticeably broader and bigger - especially from behind with its wider hips that give this SUV a tougher stance. 

It is bigger, though, at 4585mm long, 1689mm tall and 1820mm wide. That makes the CR-V longer than most of its rivals: the Hyundai Tucson is 110mm shorter, the Toyota RAV4 is 90mm smaller and the Mazda CX-5 is 30mm shorter. Only Nissan’s X-Trail is 100mm longer.

The CR-V is good looking but not stunning. (image credit: Richard Berry) The CR-V is good looking but not stunning. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The slim A-pillars either side of the windscreen are excellent in that they don’t obstruct vision, but I found the bulging bonnet reduced visibility, especially in car parks, but raising my seat solved that issue.

It’s good looking but not stunning, and with perhaps more ‘chromey’ bits than necessary. The CR-V is up against prettier foes like the CX-5, but can outdo the Mazda for practicality, which is attractive in itself.

Inside, the VTi-LX’s cabin feels modern and luxurious with a well-crafted feel to the fit and finish. I like the large clear panel that the touchscreen (which is disappointingly small) hides behind. I even like the digital instrument cluster - even if its toy-like look doesn’t match this grown up SUV.

And that’s what the CR-V is; a grown up SUV for people that rate practicality above looks, but still aren’t blind. 

How practical is the space inside?   9/10

Ok, the sentence after this one could be the most important words you’ll read in this entire review. 

I can sit in the second row behind my driving position in the VTi-LX with plenty of head and legroom, but I can’t in the VTi-L. That’s because the sliding mechanism under the second row in the seven-seat VTi-L raises the seat higher, making headroom so limited that I can’t sit up straight. I’m 191cm, which isn’t outrageously tall, but it’s enough to make that car a no-go zone for me.

Rear doors open at 89 degrees to the side of the car make for a wide entrance to the back seats. (image credit: Richard Berry) Rear doors open at 89 degrees to the side of the car make for a wide entrance to the back seats. (image credit: Richard Berry)

This review isn’t about the VTi-L, but I feel you should know that as it makes the case for the VTi-LX even stronger.

Cabin storage is excellent with two cup holders in the rear fold-down armrest and two more up front. There’s bottle holders in all doors and a shape-shifting centre console storage area which is the best I’ve seen in all the current mid-sized SUVs out there, even if I’m still unsure how to unleash its full potential.

The CRV VTi-LX’s boot capacity is 522 litres, which is bigger than in the CX-5 and the Tucson but smaller than the Volkswagen Tiguan.

The CRV VTi-LX’s boot capacity is 522 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry) The CRV VTi-LX’s boot capacity is 522 litres. (image credit: Richard Berry)

Rear doors which open at an outstanding 89 degrees to the side of the car make for a big, wide entrance, and so it is super easy to put kids into their car seats. An auto tailgate will stop closing if it detects fingers in the way and a walk-away locking function are just a few other features which makes the CR-V one of the most practical mid-sized SUVs about.

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

The VTi-LX is the top-of-the-range CR-V, and that means it’s the most expensive at $44,290. But in return, it comes with a mountain of standard features.

We’re talking about a seven-inch screen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, digital radio, Bluetooth, an eight-speaker stereo and sat nav. There’s a multi-angle reversing camera with guidelines, a side-view camera, front and rear parking sensors and an automatic tailgate. Wait, I’m still going… 18-inch alloys, sunroof, leather seats (heated up front and the driver’s is power adjustable), LED headlights and daytime running lights and auto wipers.

The seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. (image credit: Richard Berry) The seven-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. (image credit: Richard Berry)

What you need to know is that most of those features come standard on the grade below it, the VTi-L, which is cheaper at $42,290 and has two more seats (the VTi-L is a seven-seater, the VTi-LX seats five). So why get the VTi-LX? The advanced safety package, that’s why. Read about it in the safety section below.

Only the VTi-LX comes with LED headlights and fog lights, digital radio, an all-wheel-drive system and tinted rear windows. Those are also excellent reasons to step up to the VTi-LX. Oh, and I can’t sit upright in the second row of the VTi-L, but I can in the VTi-LX. Yes, tall people will find they have practicality issues with the seven-seat version – read about that bombshell in our practicality section.

Tinted windows are a massive plus for parents with kids, and only the VTi-LX comes standard with them. On our trip to Newcastle it meant we didn’t have to put up our daggy sunshade for our toddler in the back.

Rear air vents were also a bonus given the three-hour trip was made in 30-degree heat.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   7/10

All CR-V’s have the same engine – it’s a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine which makes 140kW and 240Nm. That’s a small engine, but it has decent grunt thanks to the turbo.

The 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine offers 140kW/240Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry) The 1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine offers 140kW/240Nm. (image credit: Richard Berry)

The CVT is good… for a CVT, which is a type automatic transmission which is great at fuel economy but won’t be remembered by anybody for its sparkling personality and sportiness. 

Not all CR-Vs are all-wheel drive, but the VTi-LX is and can send 40 per cent of its torque to the rear wheels if needed to maintain better traction, and will switch back to front-wheel drive when cruising. 

How much fuel does it consume?   8/10

If you’re concerned that the all-wheel-drive VTi-LX is going to cost you more to run than a two-wheel-drive CR-V then don’t be. Honda’s official combined consumption figure is 7.4L/100km for the VTi-LX while the two-wheel-drive VTi-L is 7.3L/100km.

I rarely manage to get within a litre of a manufacturer’s claim, but our test car’s trip computer said that it was using 7.5L/100km after about 300km of urban, city, country and highway adventures. That’s outstanding.

What's it like to drive?   7/10

The CR-V VTi-LX has a comfortable ride, pretty good handling (for the segment), great steering and an excellent braking response. If only it had the six-speed auto from the Mazda CX-5 and the V6 from the Hyundai Santa Fe. 

Instead the CVT auto lacks sportiness and the engine is no more than adequate. There also seems to be some road noise from the tyres intruding into the cabin - it's not a deal breaker but it is noticeable on course-chip roads. 

Still, the good points outweigh the bad and VTi-LX is great to drive.

The advanced safety equipment is excellent. I was impressed by how well the adaptive cruise control worked and I didn’t have to touch the accelerator or brake once for more than 100km on the motorway from Newcastle to Sydney.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

5 years / unlimited km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

The CR-V has yet to be given an ANCAP crash rating, but the previous generation scored the maximum five-star rating.

The VTi-LX comes standard with an advanced safety equipment package called Honda Sensing. The safety pack includes forward collision warning and AEB, lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

A quirky Honda feature in the VTi-LX is the side view camera which shows you the view of your blind spot on the left of the car when indicating – it’s a good idea but can be distracting.

You’ll find three top tether anchor points (roof-mounted) and two ISOFIX points (window seats) in the second row. The roof mounted anchor points are a Honda thing - according to their PR people, the company feels it’s safer to latch to the actual structure of the car than a seat and it’s hard to see how that’s not true.

The VTi-LX also has a full-sized spare wheel.

The VTi-LX has a full-sized spare wheel. (image credit: Richard Berry) The VTi-LX has a full-sized spare wheel. (image credit: Richard Berry)

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   9/10

Servicing is recommended at intervals of 12 months or 10,000km and is capped at $295 per service all the way up to 100,000km.

All CR-Vs also come with Honda's five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Verdict

There’s a stack of reasons to buy the VTi-LX over the other grades in the CR-V line-up: advanced safety tech, LED headlights, all-wheel drive, tinted rear windows and a second row I can sit in (unlike the VTi-L). 

Keep in mind, though, that in 2018 we’re expecting Honda to make the safety gear available on all grades. 

The Honda CR-V VTi-LX handled all its family duties easily. I, however, did not.

Do you think Honda's CR-V is the perfect mix of form and function? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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
8
Design8
Practicality9
Price and features8
Engine & trans7
Fuel consumption8
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership9
Richard Berry
Senior Journalist

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