When it comes to compact SUVs or crossovers, cutting edge design, high spec, huge horsepower, or even “cool” are not really words that come to mind. So what should someone expect from the new Honda CRV? Possibly good driver position and clarity, fuel economy, luggage capacity, and that option to go over the gutter onto a grassy field. Well, the Honda CRV does all these things, calmly and hassle free. Let’s quietly take a look.
The Test Drive
Being the “Comfortable Runabout Vehicle” that was first imagined back in 1995, Honda have maintained the CRV as their entry level SUV and is the smallest in their range. Honda’s aim of producing a light wheel base vehicle with smooth handling while catering to the weekend recreational family has shaped the CRV into the spacious car-like vehicle, which I had the opportunity to try out.
The first noticeable feature was the lack of body roll the corners. This was due to the engine location sitting very low towards the rear of the engine bay. The low center of gravity is evidently in the smooth “dream like” ride, a term that I’ve heard .
Ride quality is well balanced and extremely soft in the rear. Sitting atop of some finely tuned double-wishbones, you don’t get much road vibration or feel the bumps, which presents a smooth comfortable ride for rear passengers. But up front, the driver has solid road feedback and handling. This easy to maneuver and simple to drive CRV also features a very delicate and petite steering wheel- the smallest I have encountered so far. Thin and narrow in diameter, it can be uncomfortable for the larger handlers amongst us. But the layout and ease of use of the on-wheel controls were spot on. Activating the cruise controls was as simple as it should be and the motorway drive was a pinch with excellent visibility all round and clear and open peripheral vision. This made blind spots much easier to keep in check. With all these subtle potential problems sorted out, it was the reversing camera that let it down for me. Having a grid or guidelines to help with lining the vehicle would have been more useful, and the slightest bit of water on the camera renders it completely unusable. Something like hiding it a bit further under the Honda badge lip might be just enough to solve this.
In terms of other feedback signifiers, the CRV has a few but also lacks some. As with most eco-cars coming out they all have a leaf or green way to show you’re being eco friendly. The CRV does this by illuminating large crescents in the control cluster from white, meaning driving excessiveness, to green, earth friendliness. Around the narrow Wellington city streets the CRV was averaging around 7.8 to 8.8L/100km for us. A small but annoying problem for me was the lack of information regarding the 4WD. Driving on wet gravel back roads, I was testing how the vehicle would engage the on demand real time 4WD system however there were no icons or sound to let the driver know it was in use, or if the option to turn it on was available. Having a small icon on the dash would be useful. Or perhaps the terrain we were on wasn’t tough enough to engage the 4WD. The onboard GPS is equipped with comprehensive instructions, is easy to use with a responsive touch screen, good bluetooth functions and navigation- all of which are easy features to mess up but Honda have done well.
The new Honda CRV has been revamped inside and out. The CRV N we drove was in the mid field for styling accessories with basic fabric interior and rear parking sensors. However it only had the standard halogen headlights and had none of the driver assist technology, which is what you will find in the Sport NT models. All of the models are available for upgrades both interior and exterior, with look enhancing add-ons, such as LED fog/driving lights, lenses, wheel packages, and garnishing kits.
The CRV’s openness and numerous options available for storage was most impressive. The boot is spacious and well designed to be largely square, making the most of stacking volume. But the shape has been blended into the overall curve and flow of the vehicle as to not look too boxy. Also with side cargo net pockets, the doors also featured layered storage nooks and the centre console featured a pull-back sectional lid that maximised space. If that wasn’t enough, there is even more storage down around the foot space area either side of the centre console. However the glove box was underwhelmingly small. Another feature is the raised gear stick, allowing for even more cup holders and spaces to put things.
Matching the vast space is the all encompassing seats. Surprisingly they feel larger and more supportive than first expected in a compact SUV. For the larger or taller amongst us, they are most comfortable and add to the driving quietness and comfort that the CRV offers. However they are not too encompassing to a point that those with a petite build get sucked into the large seats. Back seats for passengers offer the same spaciousness, comfortably fitting either adults or large items of luggage. The rear seats also feature a lever system that is accessed near the rear door for ease of use in folding down the seats for more trunk space. Several other makes of SUV also offer a similar folding mechanism and it is something that more vehicles should utilise.
Honda did make a couple of questionable decisions for some of their dashboard controls. One of them being the climate controls which are possibly too simplified to a point that they’re limiting. The temperature is only tuneable down to 19 degrees and anything below is just considered LOW. I did find myself at times struggling to get something comfortable. The other questionable decision is something that other Honda models also suffer from: the need to acknowledge the safety warning for operating the media system whilst driving, where if you want to use the radio as soon as you turn the engine on you have to tap OK every time. It’s getting old fast.
What’s it up against?
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Luggage Capacity (Boot Capacity)||Fuel Economy||Price|
|VW Tiguan TSI 4WD DSG||2.0L Petrol 7||132kW / 280Nm||674L||8.6L/100km||$50,990|
|Toyota RAV4 GX AWD||2.4L Inline 4, Petrol||132kW / 233Nm||577L||8.5L/100km||$47,2900|
|Honda CRV N||2.4L DOHC i-VTEC engine, Petrol||140kW / 222Nm||461L||8.6L/100km||$46,600|
|Hyundai IX35 Series II||2.4L In-line 4, Petrol||130kW / 240Nm||465L||9.8L/100km||$44,900|
|Mitsubishi Outlander LS||2.4L In-Line 4, Petrol||126kW / 224Nm||591L||7.5L/100km||$43,900|
|Suzuki Grand Vitara Ltd||2.4-litre In-Line 4, Petrol||122kW / 225Nm||398L||9.9L/100km||$39,990|
What do we think ?
The sporty utility for the urban dweller, this suitably practical, quiet and efficient CRV doesn’t cry out for attention but keeps to the fringes humming away. My only frets were that of the unusual climate controls and the constantly annoying warnings from the media system. On the other hand the bountiful space found inside with the smart use of compartments meant you will be finding things to fill them with. Small families and those of the wiser age will benefit most, gravitating towards the ease of use and functionality of this no frills city car.
Rating – Chevron rating 3.5 out of 5
Honda CRV N
|Vehicle Type||AWD front engine compact SUV|
|Starting Price||$ 34,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$ 46,600 NZD|
|Engine||2.4L 16V DOHC iVTEC engine 140kW / 222Nm|
|Transmission||5 Speed Automatic with on-demand real time 4WD system.|
|Length x Width x Height||4.54×1.82×1.68m|
|Cargo Capacity||1,669L (to the roof/seats down)|
|Fuel Tank||58 litres|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|