Car reviews - Honda - CR-V
Reasonable value for money, outstanding hybrid fuel economy, refinement and build quality, cabin quietness and outward visibility, balanced ride and handling mix, sorted ergonomics, child-friendly rear seat access and accommodation, welcomed larger boot
Room for improvement
Pricier than predecessor, hybrid not available in lower grades, no remote release for rear seats, outdated and clunky gearshift lever, no head-up display, no spare wheel on hybrid variant, petrol engine lacks the torque offered in e:HEV hybrid
Honda’s new mid-sized SUV is polished, practical and not too badly priced
18 Oct 2023
By MATT BROGAN
HONDA has launched its sixth-generation CR-V this month, the Medium SUV priced from $44,500 drive-away and set to continue its place as a rival to the likes of the Hyundai Tucson (from $35,150 plus on-road costs), Mazda CX-5 (from $36,110 +ORC) and Toyota RAV4 (from $43,310 +ORC).
Offering what Honda says is a more spacious, better performing and handling vehicle with improved connectivity and safety technologies, the CR-V (or Comfort Runabout Vehicle) is offered with petrol and petrol-electric hybrid drivelines, mimicking those found in the latest generation Civic.
Longer and wider than before, the Honda CR-V will now sit above the HR-V and ZR-V in Honda Australia’s SUV portfolio, bringing more choice than ever to local buyers. The seven-variant range is available in five- and seven-seat formats, all boasting more premium finishes, improved ergonomics, and a more intuitive human-machine interface.
The main technology highlights of the CR-V cabin include a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment array with wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto connectivity, front and rear illuminated USB outlets, improved wireless phone charging with faster charge times.
A greater array of standard safety inclusions see the CR-V fitted with Honda’s latest range of Sensing driver-assistance technologies, including a new front camera and radar system, and updated Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure.
Honda Sensing functions now include a collision mitigation braking system (essentially AEB with vehicle, pedestrian and moving bicycle detection), a road departure mitigation system, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane keep assist, traffic jam assist, auto high beam, front and rear low-speed braking, traffic speed sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, rear and multi-view camera, driver attention monitor, blind spot monitor, rear seat reminder, and adaptive headlights (e:HEV RS only).
A total of 11 airbags are standard across the range.
Like the Civic and HR-V before it, the front of the cabin has been re-engineered to allow improved outward forward and lateral vision, the range of visibility between the A-pillars increased by 4.4 degrees.
With its larger body, the new CR-V provides greater cargo space than before (+67-litres), as well as second row sliding seats (fore-aft 190mm) and increased rear-seat legroom (+15mm). In five-seat format, the CR-V offers 589-litres of luggage area, rising to 1072-litres in two-seat mode. In seven-seat mode the CR-V offers 150-litres of cargo space, unchanged from the current model.
All grades receive a handsfree tailgate with clever walkaway close-and-lock function.
Styled to complement the HR-V and ZR-V, the CR-V now measures 4704mm in length (+69mm), 1866mm in width (+11mm) and 1655mm in height. The wheelbase grows 40mm to 2700mm, while the front and rear track is broadened by 10mm.
The CR-V is said to feature “sportier proportions” when viewed against the outgoing model and features a new frontal mask with more upright grille, thinner LED headlights, and low-set air intakes (with active shutters) on each side of the lower bumper cover.
Depending on variant, three alloy wheel diameters are available: 17-inch on VTi-X in Sparkle Silver, 18-inch in Sparkle Silver or Berlina Black on VTi-X, and 19-inch in Berlina Black on VTi-LX or e:HEV RS (hybrid).
Wheel choices are complemented by a range of largely carried over paint hues, including Ignite Red, Platinum White, Lunar Silver, Meteoroid Grey, Crystal Black, and Canyon River Blue (new).
Inside, an “intuitive and intelligent” technology bundle includes 7.0- or 10.2-inch instrumentation screens, the aforementioned 9.0-inch infotainment array, and Bose branded audio on high-grade variants. Satellite navigation is offered and is backed by a five-year over-the-air update program.
Keyless entry and push-button start is standard across the range, as are several connected services functions.
Under the bonnet, the CR-V is offered with the choice of a direct injection and turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit offering 140kW/240Nm coupled with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and front-wheel drive, or a direct injection 2.0-litre petrol unit with two-motor electric hybrid arrangement providing 152kW/335Nm also utilising a CVT and driving all four wheels via Honda’s Intelligent Control System. Note the 12kW/95kW advantage offered by the e:HEV variant…
Three drive modes (Normal, Sport and Econ) are available, as is hill descent control. All variants ride on a strut (front) / multi-link (rear) suspension arrangement and are halted by four-wheel disc brakes. Steering is all electric and tuned to provide what Honda says is “excellent feedback and improved straight-line stability”.
Additional measures to reduce the CR-V’s noise, vibration and harshness attributes focus on wind, mechanical and road noise, with petrol models receiving an acoustic windscreen for a quieter cabin.
Warranty provisions extend to five years with unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are set at 12 months or 15,000km (whichever comes first) with service pricing capped to $199 per service for the duration of the warranty period.
The Medium SUV segment is to the Australian new car market what once was the domain of the Commodore and Falcon… except there isn’t a locally made offering in sight, and buyers now have a lot more choice than ‘wagon or sedan’.
Five- and seven-seat options; two- and all-wheel drive; diesel-, electric-, hybrid- and petrol-powered options… the list goes on and on.
In short, we are spoilt for choice.
There is also a price point out there to suit almost any budget; though increasingly with a value proposition that is hard to justify when coughing up for models that once began at less than $30K on-road and were arguably just as useful as those we now add to our shopping lists.
Of course, practicality is just one of the selling points of the family SUV. It must now also be safe, fun to drive, reliable, attractive, connected, affordable, spacious, economical, powerful, and offer decent resale come trade-in time. Understanding what it is buyers want is an ever-moving feast.
Get it wrong and you might as well pull up stumps.
It comes as little surprise then that Honda has gone ‘all out’ with its latest CR-V. The model will be on the market for quite a few years to come, so future-proofing its design – aesthetically and from an engineering standpoint – was something it had no choice but to get right.
As we mentioned above, the CR-V is a broad offering and one that offers decent value for money. No, it isn’t the cheapest option on the market (not even close), but it does provide a lot for your coin, both in terms of its construction and equipment, and what it costs to own and operate in the long run (consider the average Aussie holds on to their car for up to 10 years and this becomes a very important selling point).
Walking around the CR-V it’s nearly impossible to pick up a blemish. All the panel gaps are tight and consistent, as is the fit between plastic and metal surfaces and the lustre and finish of the paint. There are no obvious shortcuts, no dags, no compromises. Just as we’ve come to expect from the brand.
Step inside and the feeling is much the same. The door jambs are clean and well presented. The way the seats are mounted to the floor is tidy. The cargo floor is flat. The plastics are of a high quality with no rough edges. Everything opens and shuts the way it should, and all the switchgear feels top notch.
Take a seat and you’re almost instantly set. No endless fiddling to get the seat and steering wheel set. No reaching for controls. No ‘what the heck is that’ moments… In short, the cabin ‘just works’… a line from an old Honda TVC if I remember rightly.
The 90-degree opening doors and simple-to-operate tilt and slide second row make it easy for kids to clamber in and out; and while the third row (where so equipped) might be only suitable for primary school aged kids, there is airbags, vents, and power outlets for everyone – as well as darkly tinted windows on certain grades. Bingo!
Outward visibility from any seating position is great – even for the shorter among us – and the driving position outstanding. Honda’s thin A pillars, broad windscreen and spaced-from-the-body wing mirrors offer an unmatched view of the road ahead. If you need more help, the camera system is terrific.
Another bonus is that the driver assistance systems seem well calibrated and cooperative. No jumping at shadows and no mind-numbing chimes every time something ticks it off. Again, it just works – and it works well.
Importantly, the CR-V is also a pleasure to drive – particularly the e:HEV (hybrid) RS. There’s a fluidity to the controls and an even-handedness to the response of the driveline that gives the CR-V a premium feel.
The pedal box is well positioned and the pedal stroke smooth and predictable. The steering is ideally weighted with accuracy that is hard to fault. The quietness of the cabin is welcomed and relaxing… though perhaps slightly less so on the base model with its cheaper tyres.
Acceleration is likewise linear and crisp. Honda’s TURBO VTEC powertrain is well regarded for its lag-free response, cooperating well with the continuously variable transmission to provide capable performance in city and highway situations alike.
Sure, it isn’t the strongest performer on the market, but the numbers don’t really tell the entire story here. The petrol-powered CR-V gets along just fine and is more refined than many we care to name. It is also quite economical returning a mid-to-high 7.0-litre average on the launch route, the front-wheel drive option achieving slightly better efficiency than the heavier all-wheel drive.
But for us, it is the e:HEV (hybrid) variant that is the pick of the bunch.
Sure, it doesn’t offer seven seats or a spare wheel (petrol models are available with a full-size spare in five-seat grades and space saver in seven-seat grades) – and it isn’t available lower in the grade walk – but it is considerably more powerful with plenty left in reserve for overtaking.
The driveline isn’t disjointed like some hybrids we could name and provides a ‘clean’ driving experience irrespective of the terrain encountered.
We tackled the winding roads and hills of the Mornington Peninsula on launch, as well as extended freeway sections and inner-urban traffic. All extracted a feeling of quiet confidence from the hybrid powertrain while returning an impressive fuel economy average – how does 5.1 litres per 100km sound?
Arguably, we could have done better. With more judicious use of the throttle and Eco mode engaged, the CR-V felt like it had more to give. Perhaps this is something we can revisit down the track…
On the whole, it is safe to say the CR-V gets the nod from us. It has enough moxie to satisfy Aussie buyers and feels sorted and comfortable on even the most average of road surfaces. Add to that a cabin that as stylish and it is spacious, and we reckon Honda might just have a winner on its hands.
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