Honda CRV

Within the "WORTHY" car zone

"Honda's got the better CVT among all the current rivals"

"The "direct injection" along with the "CVT" is completely new"

"Visually the car looks better and the upgrades inside are chic"

"I think they have been consistent with the original dimensions with minor tweaks now and then. It's a painful job (to limit your imagination), but then it's business, pure business!" said Ershad

Honda CR-V is a mainstay in the compact SUV segment, no doubt. Globally, it's got a reputation and there's a reason why it was the best selling crossover SUV in the United States last year: it's a hassle-free SUV that does the job for a family.

During its launch 20 years ago, it was Honda's first in-house designed SUV. Now here's something hilarious: Honda CR-V was slackly derived from the old Civic. It is still running and now on its 4th generation. I think they have been consistent with the original dimensions with minor tweaks now and then. It's a painful job (to limit your imagination), but then its business, pure business!

When the CR-V arrived to our region, Honda was too generous to say it was a regular drill - facelift. However, we see more on it. The new grille and the bumper are bold. Flashy set of front headlamps with halogen bulbs look great with the LED DRLs and HID projector headlamps. By the way, HID lamps are on hand for the top two grades of the model. Like it or not, the rear quarter looks somewhat odd, partly because of the vertical stance. Our top grade tester had 18 inch alloy wheels and slightly redone tail lamps. The curves and smooth lines complement the long roofline narrowed behind to the spoiler. Apart from the 4WD variants namely LX, EX and EX-Leather, Honda added a new "2WD" LX grade to tackle everyone.

Inside the car, we noticed improved textures and materials throughout. Mainly the old hard plastic part is replaced with a soft-touch dashboard and the reshaped chrome-effect inlay running the width of the dashboard. It now has a 7 inch color Intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) which is placed right under the display on the dash. The new center console storage looks nice and has a sliding armrest feature. There's lot of room inside for passengers and cargo. The easy fold-down 60/40 split rear seat is an easy maneuver that gets you more cargo space. Honestly, aren't we close to the perfect practical car? I can tell that the minor uplift is pleasing, visually!

We have a list of standard and optional features in our tester CR-V EX-Leather. There's an engine start/stop button, power adjustable mirrors with tilt function, window key-off operation, tilt and telescopic steering column and rear wiper with washer. Inside the car we've got dual zone auto A/C with rear A/C ventilations, Bluetooth hands free and rear view camera. For entertainment, they have 6 speakers with inputs from our infotainment board. You can channel them through the regular AM/FM/CD system or USB and AUX ports.

Now, let's check out the main story. The new CR-V ispowered by a direct-injected 2.4 liter 4 cylinder engine mated to a CVT transmission. The "direct injection" along with the "CVT" is completely new. Power output is almost unchanged (185hp) but the torque has improved to 245Nm from 222Nm. 

Safety is important and here's the list I found in the media kit: parking sensors on all grades, rear view camera to reduce pedestrian injuries, front dual SRS airbag system, front side airbag system and side curtain airbags. Honda's got the advanced compatibility engineering (ACE) body structure technology for crash protection and there are active safety features like VSA and Traction control system in addition to ABS brakes, EBD and hill start assist feature.

So what's it like to drive? First of all, the high up driving position was impressive with nice visibility. The steering was well balanced with good feedback. CVT which stands for Continuously Variable Transmission, is lighter and more compact than the previous automatic gearbox. We've seen CVTs in other compact cars and Honda has done some decent job here. It is somewhat responsive than before, thanks to the low end torque. You barely get caught flat-footed in the wrong gear. CVT basically puts a torque converter between the transmission and the engine to give the CR-V a nice takeoff. It holds the engine at a constant rev under hard acceleration.

Brakes were light but ok. The cabin was really calm and that's good for a family. The front MacPherson strut suspension along with rear double wishbone set is retuned for better comfort. I took onto some twisty roads and the response was encouraging. Fuel efficiency is improved slightly and that's a good plus. Honda's lane watch camera that displays a wide-angle view of the right side roadway on the display is a nice addition. CR-V may not be a fun drive on off-road but that's technically not what they want to address. They are being very honest. The overall facelift is pleasant and the CVT proves out to ring bells.

Verdict
As a final note, here's what I want to underline. Visually, the car looks better and the upgrades inside are chic. Spacious, economical, stylish and practical - that's all that matters to a buyer and Honda has done enough (for now) to stay up in that familiar GOOD car zone. They've put a safe price bracket, and Honda's got the better CVT among all the current rivals.

Pros: spacious inside, stylish exterior, cargo space, fuel economy, good handling
Cons: top trim is too expensive, no navigation
Rivals: Toyota RAV4, Nissan X-Trail, Ford Escape, Mitsubishi Outlander, Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5
Engine: 185hp @ 6400 rpm, 245Nm @ 3900 rpm
Transmission: CVT, FWD/4WD
Performance: 0-100 kph: 9 sec, 9 L /100 km, top speed: 199 kph
Weight: 1561 kg

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