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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)|
|Engine Type||1.5L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Regular Unleaded Petrol|
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
5 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
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.
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.
|LE (4x2)||2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$21,340 – 26,950||2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 LE (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|LE (4x4)||2.4L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$24,090 – 29,700||2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 LE (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|VTi (2WD)||1.5L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$27,990 – 29,990||2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 VTi (2WD) Pricing and Specs|
|VTi (4x2)||2.0L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$23,990 – 26,990||2017 HONDA CR-V 2017 VTi (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||7|
“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). ”
Do you think Honda's CR-V is the perfect mix of form and function? Tell us what you think in the comments below.