Honda CR-V 2017 review
Honda's CR-V is one of the original compact SUVs when it appeared in Australia in 1997, but has recently fallen out of favour. All that could change with the arrival of the fifth generation model.
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It is no secret that there has been a softening of the SUV species of late, with our not-quite-4WDs now designed less for the freedom of rugged outback adventures, and more for picking up adventurous rugs from Freedom.
It's the compact SUV category that really dispels the notion of these cars as go-anywhere warriors. Unless by 'go anywhere', they mean 'go anywhere suitable for a front-wheel-drive hatchback, only slightly taller'.
But all of that clearly matters little to many car buyers, with city-sized SUVs pouring out of dealerships in incredible numbers. The Nissan Qashqai is one such example, blending the ride height and look of an SUV with the road characteristics of a hatch or small sedan.
So for my weekend test I'm driving the 2018 Qashqai N-TEC. Priced at $36,490, the N-TEC sits at the top of a Qashqai range that also includes the ST ($26,490) and the ST-L ($32,990).
This 2018 Qashqai has undergone a mid-life update designed to help it keep up with a formidable small-SUV pack (Hyundai Kona, Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V, etc). While the exterior has been given some minor nips and tucks, it's under the skin where the key updates have taken place. But more on that later.
The question now is, how will the Qashqai N-TEC handle family duties?
We had a busy schedule, the highlight being a trip to a Circus Oz show as part of the Sydney Festival.
This latest Qashqai looks sharp. It's definitely one of the better-looking SUVs in its class, with a number of new and subtle styling cues to distinguish this 2018 model from the one it replaces.
The most noticeable changes are up front, with the addition of Nissan's 'V Motion' grille and sharper LED headlights with boomerang-shaped daytime running lights. Apart from the roof rails (standard on N-TEC), there's barely any discernible changes to the side and rear views.
The ride height is in the goldilocks zone, making for effortless entry and exit (particularly useful for those drivers and passengers who may be nursing dodgy knees and hips).
Inside, the N-TEC's cabin has been gifted a panoramic glass roof that works cleverly to help give the impression of space, which quickly became my favourite feature. The seats (heated in the front) are outfitted in leather and cloth and provide an excellent amount of comfort.
The kids in the back had ample room, and they could make use of two cupholders in the centre armrest or the bottle holder in each door. Legroom is good, with room enough for me to sit behind my driving position (I'm 180cm) with space to spare.
In addition to the extra two cupholders and the glovebox up front, the cabin is peppered with plenty of nooks and cubbies for items of various sizes and shapes. The dash design works well; it's clean, simple and well designed.
The N-TEC is let down somewhat by the 7.0-inch touchscreen, though. It's not as simple to use as others in the class. Screen resolution for the maps is not great, and there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
After a morning of errands we set off for Circus Oz, a trip that would involve both urban and motorway driving. Bouncing around the urban streets is where the N-TEC was most at home. Despite sitting on 19-inch alloys, ride and handling was excellent on uneven roads and it soaked up the speed humps with ease. Ride and handling on the motorway was composed and only let down by the lack of power on tap for overtaking.
On the return trip I was struck by how serene the cabin was, with only minor noise noticeable from the CVT under acceleration or at higher speeds. It's impressive. The serenity was only broken by the kids' verbal battles in the back seat. But I guess you can't have everything.
The schedule today included shopping in the city followed by a trip to the beach in the afternoon, and it gave me the opportunity to further test the N-TECs driving characteristics and luggage capacity.
Nissan has given diesel the punt for this mid-life update, only offering the 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine. Developing 106kW/200Nm, it's coupled with a CVT auto that sends power to the front wheels. As you'd expect, tow figures are modest, rated at 1200kg (braked) or 729kg (unbraked).
The engine and transmission combination works well to propel the Qashqai around the city and urban back streets, but it struggles a little when overtaking on the freeway. Hills (with a car filled with kids and luggage) can be a challenge, too. Not to be relied on to escape any sticky traffic situations in a hurry, then.
City driving in the Qashqai was hassle-free, apart from the car's overzealous sonar beeping when in the vicinity of any object or vehicle – which in the city happens more often than you might think. It became slightly annoying as it continued to draw my attention unnecessarily.
With its reasonably small dimensions, navigating underground city carparks was easy and I quickly managed to nab a 'small car' space, with the N-TEC fitting in with room to spare.
For the afternoon trip to the beach we packed the Qashqai's boot, which at 430 litres is bettered only by Honda's HR-V. Luggage capacity triples to a cavernous 1596 litres with the 60/40 split seats folded down. The boot also features two handy secret underfloor compartments for additional storage.
The safety list in the five-star ANCAP rated N-TEC is exhaustive, with six airbags, ABS, stability and traction controls, forward collision warning, reversing camera, forward AEB, front and rear parking sensors and lane departure warning.
Rounding out the safety kit is an around-view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot warning, park assist and drowsiness detection. Families with small kids can fit a baby car seat using either the three top-tether anchor points or two ISOFIX points.
One small issue; the blind-spot monitoring warning lights aren't particularly bright, and so are hard to notice on sunny days.
According the trip computer my fuel consumption over the weekend was 8.1 litres per 100km - slightly above the claimed 6.9L/100km. I'll take it, though, particularly as the Qashqai is happy to sip 91RON fuel.
The N-TEC is an incredibly easy car to live with, and it does an impeccable job of playing the role of family taxi. I was impressed with its ride, levels of comfort (particularly the quiet cabin) and sharp looks.
It scores well for practicality, too, despite being a cosy fit for five passengers. The engine might lack urgency, but it does the job in the suburbs - which is where the Qashqai will surely spend the majority of its time.
|N-TEC||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$27,990 – 34,990||2018 NISSAN QASHQAI 2018 N-TEC Pricing and Specs|
|ST||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$20,000 – 32,990||2018 NISSAN QASHQAI 2018 ST Pricing and Specs|
|ST N-SPORT||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$20,680 – 26,180||2018 NISSAN QASHQAI 2018 ST N-SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|ST-L||2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO||$24,990 – 37,490||2018 NISSAN QASHQAI 2018 ST-L Pricing and Specs|