Recently Drive Life were invited to experience the new Honda Civic Type-R on track. On the day, Honda had a bit of a surprise for us – the first delivery of 2018 CR-Vs had landed early. As well as launching the Type-R and Civic hatch they also launched the CR-V. A busy day for Honda New Zealand!

The Range

The new fifth-generation CR-V is built on an all-new platform, giving better refinement, body strength and interior space. There will be four versions of the CR-V in either 2WD or 4WD, with five or seven seats.

All feature a 1.5l VTEC turbo engine which makes 140kW and 240Nm. And that torque is made from 2000-5000rpm giving a very flat, useable torque curve. It’s linked to a CVT transmission in all models.

Lots of safety tech is included, including Honda’s excellent Agile Handling Assist system. There’s ABS/EBD, Stability Assist, Lane Keep Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking and adaptive cruise control. There’s a power tailgate – with programmable height for the more vertically challenged.

This is the first Honda to feature Driver Attention Monitor, which detects when the driver is tired and warns them to pull over to rest – even beeping, and vibrating the wheel if the driver gets to the lowest level.

Prices start from $37,900 for the 2WD Touring, $44,900 for the 4WD Sport 7, and the top spec AWD Sport Sensing is $47,900. These prices are an average $2000 less than the outgoing equivalent model with higher equipment levels included. And you get a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

The Drive

Lined up on the Hampton Downs pit lane was a tidy row of shiny new CR-Vs. We didn’t get to take them on track though. Fun though that would have been it wouldn’t have been a very appropriate test for a seven seat SUV. Honda had a 60km one hour route planned out for us. So I picked the nearest seven seater, in what looked like a reddish-brown colour in the shade, and off I went.

First impressions – nice interior, comfy leather seats. The stereo is well integrated into the dash with a very clear display. The digital instrument cluster is nice and clear. I had a play with the head unit. It refused to pair with my Android phone. But it does have Android Auto and Apple Carplay. The satnav worked well and gave good directions. I liked the way it integrated with the dash display and gave a countdown distance to the next turn. They need to work on localising the voice though, it really mangled Maori road names.

I stopped for a few minutes to take photos and have a proper look around the CR-V. In the sun, the Passion Red Pearl paint really stood out and looked far better than my first impression. The two-tone wheels really suited it, and even though I’m not a chrome fan I thought the low-down chrome slash really set off the design. It’s definitely a good-looking SUV.

From the very quick look around I had time for, I thought the inside was really nice, with decent materials and plenty of space. The dash is clean and simple to look at and looks great. The seven-seat system works well, with what seemed like decent boot space with the seats up, and a clever dual-height floor system. To get into the third row you have to fold the middle seats forward and up, but they’re assisted with pneumatic rams to it takes no effort to do.

Once I’d finished checking out the seats I realised I was a bit behind schedule – and I had a race track to get back to. Then I got stuck behind some road works. So once I got onto the back roads I decided to make up for lost time. On the main highway the CR-V was a pleasure to drive. Good ride, good steering, decent performance and a non-intrusive CVT that just did its job.

On the back road, I was very surprised by the way the CR-V drove. That 140kW turbo engine is excellent and gives way better acceleration than I was expecting. Granted it was just me in the car, and it might not be so spritely with seven up and luggage, but there was enough go to put a smile on my face.

Similarly with the handling. This is a petty big car but you can chuck it into corners and it will take them with much more grace than you’d expect. The AHA system helps here – it uses the ABS to brake individual wheels and “help” the car to corner better. It works beautifully. This is a big SUV that you can have some back road fun in.

Overall the CR-V seems like a great choice of full-sized SUV. They’ve already pre-sold over 150 and I think those buyers will be very pleased We should be getting one for a full review later in the year to see how it performs over a proper test, but my initial impressions are very positive.

Vehicle TypeFull-sized SUV
Starting Price$37,900 + on-road costs
Tested Price$47,900 + on-road costs
Engine1.5 litre, 4 Cylinder, 16 valve, VTEC Turbo, intercooled, chain drive DOHC
TransmissionEarthDreams Automatic Transmission CVT with G Design Shift
0 – 100 kphseconds
Kerb Weight1630kg
Length x Width x Height4596 x 1855 x 1689mm
Cargo CapacitySeats up – 522 Litres 5 seater, 150 Litres 7 seater

Seats Folded – 1084 Litres 5 seater, 967 Litres 7 seater

Fuel Tank57 litres
Fuel Efficiency Advertised Spec – Combined –  7.4L / 100km
ANCAP Safety RatingsNot yet tested
Warranty5 years unlimited kilometres

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