Honda’s next gen CRV builds on a considerable reputation for quality and value.
A buyer once told me that he wasn’t looking at a Honda because it didn’t have enough tech.
That might have once been true, but certainly is not the case now.
The new models are crammed full of electronic goodies. Not only that but the quality of the interiors has improved out of sight.
The new car is bigger on the outside than the old model.
It also makes better use of interior space. The cabin incredibly spacious, and has grown in all directions, and has tons of added tech.
There is a single engine/transmission across a 5-grade range. There is 2WD or AWD, and 5 or 7 seats. This is the first time the CRV has been offered with 7 seats.
The new car has more power and better fuel economy.
The 1.5L Turbo does a decent 140kw at 5,600 rpm, but it is the torque of 240Nm at 2,000 RPM that is somewhat astounding. They’ve managed this by sticking a bigger (single) turbo on the 4 cylinder used in the Civic.
That would normally make you feel like you were driving the slap-you-in-the-back-of-the-head 80’s hot hatch. The power would come on one big whack, and catch the newbies off-guard. Not in this case. The delivery is incredibly smooth and linear
Although late to the turbo party, Honda does a fabulous engine.
Their engineers reduced blades from 11 to 9 so the turbine spools up faster, and more smoothly.
The turbo is boost set to 18.5 PSI max, and the engine will sip the cheap and cheerful 91RON juice.
The grades are: VTi 2wd, VTiS 2wd, VTiS AWD, VTiL 2WD, and VTi-LX AWD. Is that not the daftest nomenclature system you’ve ever heard? Talk about complicating something that should be easy?
The price ranges from 30grand, to 44thou for the range topper.
The prices are up on the old model, but Honda says that is more than compensated for by features, and they’re right. The old car feels a bit last week by comparison.
The top model as always, is the one with most goodies, and the only one with AEB (autonomous Emergency Braking) which will be required next year for 5-star safety ratings. Entry level models are evaluated during these tests. That’s good news for us.
Honda says they will want to roll the full suite of safety gadgets across the range.
They say there is no benefit in it trying to separate the AEB from the rest of the safety suite.
For now, Honda Sensing is in the top model only.
It includes forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning with active assist, road departure mitigation, and active cruise control with a traffic assist feature.
You also get a trailer assistant, multi angle camera, auto high beam, and a thing Honda calls Agile Handling Assist System.
The latter is a really handy little gizmo. It uses the stability control as a driver assistant rather than and emergency feature. It helps the car handle better by actively monitoring the position, speed, and steering, but doesn’t wait for tyres to lose traction before kicking in.
Without the driver being aware of it, a dab of brake here and there is applied to individual wheels to make an average driver look more like Alan Jones the F1 driver, than Alan Jones the radio person. Genius.
The 18” wheels on the VTi-LX made the cabin a little noisier than lower grades on some of the goat tracks masquerading as roads. The handling was pretty sharp, and very predicatable.
Honda has added loads of noise control features, such as traditional sound proofing, thicker glass on the front windows, and active noise canceling across the range. You might have experienced this in the last Legend, and it works well.
Thankfully, CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity is standard and is easy to use. It properly integrates “Hey Siri” into full button-free motoring.
I see this as probably the biggest safety advance since the seat belt.
That’s a big call, I know. How many people do you see driving along, wandering from lane to lane? When you pass them, sure enough they’re texting. A car can travel a very long distance in the time it takes to deal with an SMS.
With CarPlay, you can send and receive texts without having your eyes leave the road.
That is not to lessen importance of the other safety features of course.
On the road.
CRV delivers the agility the company promised. Buyers like the high seating position afforded by SUVs. They like the extra space and the high ground clearance. CRV feels airy, and with good visibility all round, and Honda’s excellent lane watch.
Indicating left will activate a rear pointing camera in the lefthand door mirror. It looks right along the side of the car. You don’t have to guess if someone is in your blind spot, because there is no blind spot.
You probably won’t take the CRV off-road, but you could if you wanted.
The AWD models will benefit from extra grip which would easily handle light work sans tarmac.
Buyers will not immediately notice the benefits of the Agile Handling system. It acts behind the scenes, like nanny watching the kids playing.
It knows the car’s pitch, yore, and speed, and makes cornering smoother and more competent.
The electric steering feels slightly odd at first, but you quickly settle in. Like all new things, it takes getting used to.
Then, there is the electric brake assistance. This innovation replaces the vacuum power boosters in used since last century. Honda says it makes the car safer.
There is a computer controlling every move the CRV makes.
The car can now work as a single unit overseen by a caring, and very smart, friend.
Claims that the SUV is more engaging than the previous model are fairly accurate. It feels solid and sits on the road with the sturdiness of a Sherman tank. I like that.
The CVT has been rejigged to give better feel to the zippy engine. There are paddles, but frankly, what’s the point?
Unless pushed, the revs are kept down to improve fuel economy. With your foot on the carpet, the engine screams for mercy as it steps through computer controlled ratios. Although it simulates gears, and the acceleration still feels somewhat leisurely.
The ride is brilliant.
Since none of the old car was carried over, Honda could concentrate on a ground-up design to exactly suit the needs of 2018 buyers
As you turn in to corners, you feel the weight shift gently, but predictably. We encountered bumps in corners that you might have expect would have upset most cars. The CRV was not bothered.
Our scenic adventure took in country New South Wales and the ACT. Winding through the gentle rolling hills reminded me of exactly how this Honda might be used.
Although the landscape was a nice shade of Aussie Brown, the crispness of the winter air highlighted what a cracker the AWD would be on a skiing trip.
For longer road trips, there is an optional pod for the roof.
Apart from the CarPlay/Android Auto, there are some other natty inclusions. The centre console has a voluminous bin that can be configured 3 ways. It is deep enough to take a bag, or shallow enough for a coffee cup.
There is a raft of bins and cubby holes, and places to charge your devices.
The infotainment system on a 7” LCD responds reasonably. There are touch volume controls there, and more touch controls on the steering wheel. There is no DAB radio.
All models get full size spare wheels.
The 3rd row of seats if fitted, takes some of the boot space, but can be used for shorter occupants. If you don’t like your oranges rolling around the boot, you can put these seats up. It takes the boot down to a manageable 150L.
Tumbling the 2nd row seats forward adds extra space if you need bigger items carried.
Japanese cars are bulletproof. The design is clever, with safety as the first consideration.
Honda thinks of itself as a premium car maker, and so it is.
The cabin, engine, fixtures and fittings, all feel and look solid. The classy design inside is wrapped in a modern, good-looking skin.
The improvements over the last decade have put Honda in a good position. It has sold 21,831 cars this year, meaning it has around 4% of the market.
One last word on the Takata recall:
Honda urges all owners to check for recalls for airbags regardless of age if the car is made after 2001.
Price: $30,690 – $44,290
Engine: 1.5L turbo, 4 cyldiner, 140kw/240Nm
Transmission: CVT “automatic”
Ground Clearance: 170mm
Weight: 1487kg – 1631kg