All-new fifth generation Honda CR-V gets more space, tech and even seven seats, but falls short on refinement
What is it?
The all-new fifth generation Honda CR-V. Honda has worked hard to broaden the CR-V’s appeal and it’s grown considerably, adopted more entertainment and driver aid technology and for the first time, the option of seven seats. That should keep some families happy.
What’s it cost?
The Honda CR-V range opens with the CR-V VTi which is priced from $30,690 plus on road costs and climbs to the CR-V VTi-LX, which is priced from $44,290 plus on roads.
We had a look at the CR-V VTi-L ($38,990) and the flagship VTi-LX.
Strangely, the VTi-L is the only model in the CR-V range with seven seats. As the whole seven seat thing is a first for the CR-V, you’d think Honda would try and hawk the three-row option on all models. Not so.
Anyway, the VTi-L is reasonably well equipped. You get dual zone climate control, leather trim with seat heating in the front, satellite navigation, Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, Honda’s sideview camera which is mounted on the left wing mirror, a reversing camera and a tailgate.
The VTi-LX adds adaptive cruise, autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning and all-wheel drive. Not bad value for your $44k odd, but despite all the tech, the VTi-LX isn’t equipped with blind spot monitoring, a fairly common feature on many high end SUVs, including the excellent Kia Sportage Platinum.
What’s it go like?
All Honda CR-V models are powered by Honda’s new 1.5 litre turbo petrol engine that produces 140kW @ 5600rpm and 240Nm @ 2000-5000rpm. A continuously variable transmission is fitted as standard across the range, and power is sent to the front (in this case the VTi-L) or all four wheels (VTi-LX).
A broad torque curve means that powerplant pulls relatively strongly once its spinning beyond 2000rpm, but, lower down in the rev range – i.e below 2,000rpm – the engine can feel a little slow and lethargic.
Engine noise in the cabin is a little too excessive, as is the whine from the CVT. This robs the CR-V of some poise, refinement and polish. It’s not a deal breaker, but it could (and should) be better. That said though, the CVT does a reasonable job of keeping the engine at peak performance and should you choose, you can select simulated gears using paddles mounted on the back of the steering wheel.
Fuel consumption wasn’t horrific either. We managed around 8.5 litres on a combined cycle in the VTi-L and slightly more in the VTi-LX. Given the latter is AWD, this is to be expected.
Handling wise, the new Honda CR-V does what any good SUV should do well – it’s equally at home around town and suburbia as it is out on the open road. The steering is light, without being vague and the CR-V is a doddle to navigate tight streets and car parks.
An SUV for both the school run and family trips away. Perfect.
Whilst we were impressed by the handling and overall feel of the CR-V, felt that the ride was too firm and choppy at times.
The adaptive cruise in the VTi-LX is excellent at identifying and responding to changing traffic conditions, although at times it struggled to maintain the preset speed. The Lane Keep Assist served as a gentle safety net, subtly guiding the car back to the middle of the lane and, it was never obtrusive. The collision warning was a little over zealous though.
Also, it’s disappointing that the VTi-L is only offered in front-wheel drive. The all-wheel drive VTi-LX felt more sure footed, as the VTi-L caught us off guard by chirping the front wheels on mildly slippery bitumen.
Further, as the VTi-L is the seven seater in the CR-V family, the addition of AWD could further enhance its appeal, allowing it to be used by families to access favourite getaway spots.
What’s it like inside?
In a few words? Simple, elegant, comfortable and practical. Honda has put a lot of thought and effort into the interior and it shows. The dash is clean, ergonomic and simplistic – that gear level falls easily to hand, the centre console is absolutely enormous and includes a USB and power point.
Visibility is excellent, offering a commanding driving position – a key selling point in any good SUV – and that mirror-mounted camera makes pulling out of intersections that little bit easier.
The digital instrument cluster is borrowed from the Civic, as are most of the steering wheel controls. The instruments are clear and it’s easy obtain large amounts of information at brief glance.
The seats are comfortable too, although we suspect that the front chairs were designed with American customers in mind, as they’re very wide…
Head, leg and shoulder room are excellent for the first two rows, and you shouldn’t have any dramas fitting three adults.
As for that third row in the VTi-L, it raises and lowers easily – a strap to put the seats in place, and another to fold them back into the floor. They don’t fold completely flat, and this may pose as an issue when loading and unloading large objects.
The last two seats are very much the domain of two small children, as they’re a little tight for grown ups.
What we like:
- Great design inside and out
- Comfortable interior
- Excellent value
- Road manners
What we don’t:
- Engine can be a noisy
- While interior is beautifully designed, a lot of plastics are cheap and it can be obvious where Honda has saved money
- No blind spot monitoring on the VTi-LX
- Seven seat option should be available on all models
Sale or no sale?
Yes. If you don’t need seven seats go for the top of the line CR-V VTi-LX. It’s not perfect, but the new Honda CR-V is a decent value for money proposition. We like it.