Honda CRV

Storming the Crossover Segment

Talk about volume sales and we knock on the doors of Japan. It’s no easy job to sustain that reputation and Honda was quick to storm the crossover segment when it was introduced in the mid 90’s. CRV was a hit in the GCC and the trend hasn’t declined as now we see the 4th Generation CRV on the road. It nicely fits a target audience who wants a family car, a midsized SUV, comfortable seating, more cabin and luggage space, one that’s easy to drive and park, has decent handling and of course is a slow drinker – petrol of course!

If you’ve driven a CRV in the past, then you may not find much disparity in the new version. The overall size looks the same, but actually, Honda has shortened the length and height by a mere minute millimeter reading, hence reducing the overall weight by about 36kg. I like the refreshed front end design which looks sleek and aggressive. But going back to the rear side, the design still confuses me. A little healing around the D pillar may compliment with better space inside, but I seriously doubt if it looks chick. Anyway, the design was bracing and I welcome it. Black finished headlights, pointed bumper and the new grille was the main highlight for a high stance look up front.

Driving Impressions

Before we get into the drive piece, let me be clear. This isn’t an off road machine - crucial to inform as many of my friends still perceive that a vehicle is an off roader if it’s not a sedan or hatch. The crossover segment, though grown so big, still needs education. With a 5 speed transmission system and without a V6 engine, Honda did a fairly good job with the CRV - judging by its initial response and performance on a straight line. It could be the result of a combination: new refined gearbox and the all new Real Time Intelligent Control System integrated in its AWD system. “Econ” button on the dash was meant to slot in economical value for the powertrain and A/C, but I rather kept that off as it really effected the acceleration going forward. The ride was smooth, comfy and not much to complain about as long as you drive on a smooth road. On bog surfaces, noise wasn’t limited to the expected level. The same effect was noted while on higher speeds. But overall, it offered a smooth ride with much less to bother about body roll and stiffness.

Interior

Going inside, there is a hi-mounted gear shifter unique to CRV. When I first saw a CRV years back, that part looked awkward but gradually became friendly, thanks to ease and comfort. The rest is the same, cabin and hard plastics, and control knobs are sensibly laid unlike other Honda models, and hence look simple. The rear seating is incorporated with a one-pull folding backseat that allow the rear seats to fold almost flat with a simple tug of a lever. The space around was significant compared to the last version, both front and rear seats. So doesn’t this mean we are getting close to the concept of a family car?

Powertrains & Features

It’s the same old engine: the 2.4 liter, i-VTEC but with some upgrading done to boost a little power and torque output. The result is a slightly advanced figure to 188 hp at 7000 rpm and 222 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm. Transmission is a revised version of the existing 5 speed automatic and is to my amusement. Why not 6 speed? An obvious thing to follow we believe.

The new CRV is equipped with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. Traction control, ABS, EBD and Hill Start Assist are other standard features. The EX model, which we received, had reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity and dual zone climate control. Our car had 18-inch alloys and to be fair, the overall ambience in and out was above par compared to others in the CRV segment.

Verdict

At the end of the day, CRV plays a family car which behaves like a sedan when it comes to parking or while piling in your luggage, and of course is a joyful ride with friends and family. This is a highly competitive segment where we see Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Mazda CX5, VW Tiguan and Nissan X-Trail; Honda CRV looks to be on track to the top of the list.

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