Honda CR-V 2018 review: VTi-L

It’s what I’m calling an in-betweener. More than a five seater, it’s a seven seater when you need it.

Nedahl Stelio

7 Feb 2018 • 15 min read

The Honda CR-V is normally a five seat, mid-size SUV. But the model I drove for a week, the VTi-L, has two personalities.

In its day job, it’s a five seater, and it does that job really well. But in those moments of need, when you really wish you had two extra seats in your car, when you’re honestly thinking about strapping a child to the roof or chucking in them in the boot (I would never do that!), two seats magically pop up in the back and you can throw the extra kids in there. 

It’s what I’m calling an in-betweener. More than a five seater, it’s a seven seater when you need it. And when you don’t? You have a good sized boot. It’s the kind of car you buy when you’ve got two or three children, and might want the option of driving some of their school friends around, (but don’t want to own a big SUV like a Mazda CX-9). So you’d mainly use the second row to buckle in your kids, and then only the back row when you needed it. Here’s how this CR-V VTi-L performed over a week for my family of four. 

How spacious is it?

Let’s go from back to front, because that’s why you’d buy this model. And the back row is easy enough to get into - if you’re nimble - I wouldn’t be asking nanna to climb over the folded seat into the back. The third row has enough space for children and small adults (that’s me - a small adult at 161cm), so I was comfortable, but I’m fairly certain my 185cm husband would object if he had to sit back there. Still, kids will be fine.

I wouldn’t be asking nanna to climb over the folded seat into the back. I wouldn’t be asking nanna to climb over the folded seat into the back.

Moving forward, the second row is spacious, with loads of legroom. Strangely, the top tether for child seats is in the roof, so I secured my child’s seat (in the middle row) with a tether to the roof, and it actually ate into the headspace for the back row. The roof is low anyway because the full-size sunroof (which is a lovely feature) lowers the roof by 8.4cm - a large amount. This would definitely make a difference if you were a tall teenager. You’d just have to configure your child seats so that everyone had enough room. 

The front is comfortable, light and airy. There’s lots of leg space and headspace.

Lots of room up front. Lots of room up front.

Boot space is decent. With all seven seats in action, the boot comes in at 150 litres which is just enough to fit schoolbags and a few grocery bags. If the third row is down, the boot space grows to 472 litres, and I found that to be enough room for a full grocery load, and of course, a pram. It’s about 30 litres bigger than a Mazda CX-5’s. If you want to pop all seats down, the space expands to 967 litres.

With the seats up you'll only fit 150 litres. Just enough for school bags. With the seats up you'll only fit 150 litres. Just enough for school bags.

How does it drive?

Pretty well. The steering is responsive, if a little tight (I noticed this because I did about 50 three-point turns while shooting the video, but you don’t do that in real life, so it’s fine). The drive was smooth, the 1.5-litre turbo engine had enough power to get me up hills easily, and it even has a little bit of zip without being heavy. 

For families on their weekly route of work-school-grandparents-sport-shopping, it’s a great car to drive and will fare you well. Plus visibility is great out all windows and the car is easy to park, with front and rear parking sensors, and a reverse parking camera that also shows you left side of the road when you’ve popped the blinker on to change lanes or park. The turning circle however is 11.4m, bigger than a CX-5’s (11.2m).

How easy is it to use every day?

The doors open to almost 90 degrees, so wide that it’s actually noticeable. It makes getting in and out of the car easier, especially if you’ve got any big boxes you need to transport.

The second row is spacious and the doors open wide for easy access. The second row is spacious and the doors open wide for easy access.

There are two cupholders in the front, two in the middle, and two fold-down, more like bottle holders in the back row, plus bottle holders in each door. 

The centre storage console is deep and also configurable, which I thought was great (there’s actually a shelf to pop your makeup bag on!) and there’s a small spot to throw keys and your phone in the front - super important. 

Plus there’s my favourite feature in cars at the moment - a boot that opens when you touch a button on the key. This is a godsend for parents who are usually overloaded carrying bikes or scooters or both. 

Every car should be able to open the boot with the touch of the key. Every car should be able to open the boot with the touch of the key.

It has three lots of air vents for back passengers - one pair behind the centre console for the second row, one pair in the roof for the second row and another pair in the roof for the third row. It’s plenty breezy, I tested it through the most humid week in Sydney in 15 years, so my children and I can vouch for it. 

What does it look like?

From the outside, it’s bolshy. It reminds me of an English Staffy champing at the bit, ready to race around. Extra muscly and a bit bulky, it’s still a good looking car, even if it could be a bit more streamlined. 

Its a bit bulky but still looks good. Its a bit bulky but still looks good.

The interiors are much more sleek and refined, with matt black finishes on the front centre console, a leather steering wheel which feels great to touch, and leather seats that are also comfortable, but wide - they could hug you a bit more. Everything is well designed and nothing feels cheap. 

Everything is well designed and nothing feels cheap. Everything is well designed and nothing feels cheap.

How safe is it?

It comes with airbags for the front, driver and passenger, plus side curtain airbags that extend all the way to the back row (unlike Hyundai’s Santa Fe which doesn’t cover the back row). It has five tether points for children’s seats plus two ISOFIX points

This model doesn’t come with all the newer safety technologies though, so it’s missing things like auto emergency braking, collision warning systems and adaptive cruise control. According to Honda, these are on the way, but they haven’t arrived quite yet. 

It gets a maximum five star ANCAP rating.

How is the tech?

Plug in your phone for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to pop up and you’re set, ready to use the major apps on your phone like Spotify and Apple maps. The actual screen is also nice, with a matt cover over the top which just means you’ll get less fingerprints on it.

The matte surface of the screen means less fingerprints. The matte surface of the screen means less fingerprints.

The speakers are good enough to listen to loud. It doesn’t have anything else super fancy, but when you have Apple Carplay, that’s really enough.

What does it cost to drive?

The Honda CR-V comes in at around $39,000. Honda claims a fuel efficiency of 7.3 litres per 100kms on the combined cycle, which is good for mid-sized SUV. Honda offers a five year/unlimited km warranty and 12 month/10,000km service intervals with the first 10 capped at $295.


The Wrap

I quite like the split-personality Honda CR-V VTi-L for my family of four. I loved the versatility of having extra seats in case we needed them, it has stylish interiors and it was a comfortable enough drive.

I gave it a family rating of eight out of 10, taking points off for no extra safety features. My children also gave it eight out of 10. They loved the novelty value of jumping in the back row like they were naughty school children.

Likes

Interior
Fuel efficiency
Versatility of the seats

Dislikes

Height in the back
Tether point positions
Doesn't have all the safety features

Scores

Nedahl:

8

The Kids:

8

$38,990

Based on new car retail price

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