DRIVEN: Honda CR-V 1.5T Executive AWD
Cape Town - If your're tired of seeing Hyundai Tucsons and Toyota Rav4s around you in traffic, perhaps the new Honda CR-V will give you some visual relief.
The forefather of SUVs (or so Honda would like us to believe) was given a thorough overhaul just in time for 2018. The CR-V has been one of Honda’s sales darlings, outselling rivals SUVs in the US. But will it have the same appeal for us here, down South?
Honda is aiming to move 150 units per month, and judging from how well it’s been received by the local motoring media, the odds that the CR-V will find more South African owners, are looking up indeed.
What makes the CR-V special?
To me, it’s all in the design language. Where the fourth-gen CR-V looked more mom’s taxi than rugged SUV, the new CR-V looks determined, tough, and a little bit angry, as if to ask, "am I to experience nothing more extreme in life than the school parking lot"?
And the new CR-V has a point. The 1.5-litre turbo CR-V is equipped with all-wheel drive, sending torque to the front or rear wheels as needed, and would very much like get down and dirty.
With soft suspension and decently-sidewalled tyres that won’t shake your hip joints loose over badly rutted dirt-roads, the CR-V also scoffs at rural potholes and severe city speed-bumps. But don’t expect Land Rover-like off-road ability - the CR-V is still classified as a soft-roader and won’t be crawling over any serious rocks anytime soon.
On the inside, all is clean, practical, and conducive to a relaxed, but alert driver (driver attention assist is a standard feature, which will encourage you to take a break if it senses you’re too quiet and perhaps nodding off). The gearbox is situated directly underneath the 7" touchscreen and not on the centre tunnel, freeing up oodles of usable space, which Honda utilised by creating more practical storage cubbies.
The cabin is composed of upmarket materials, high-end surfaces and sophisticated switchgear. Not even the fake wooden inlays with their strange orange sheen could put me off.
Typically Honda, the CR-V’s cockpit scores top marks for ease of use. And those black leather seats? They support you in all the right places, and are electrically adjustable too. They’re available as standard on the Elegance derivative and upwards.
When you have children, a car with a full tank of petrol and a humongous boot of 522 litres, a road-trip is a must. As we headed onto the Akkedisbergpas on our way to Struisbaai, I was surprised by how composed the CR-V remained around the bends.
For a relatively large SUV with outdoorsy tyres and a very practical amount of ground clearance, the CR-V delighted and surprised me with its direct steering, grip, and road-hugging disposition. With 140kW at my disposal, overtaking slower traffic is a cinch - and acceleration is almost instant.
Honda’s CVT gearbox does a fine job of not sounding like an overworked hair dryer and is very much suited to the CR-V’s touring personality, and there are steering-wheel mounted flappy paddles to be used in conjunction with Sport mode for a little grown-up driving fun. All that power means the CR-V is no fuel-economy superstar - at 8 -10 litres per 100 km I thought it best to keep Eco mode active.
The Japanese are serious about their technology, and Honda is skilled at making it accessible for everyone. There’s a dedicated smartphone USB-port below the centre armrest, with another HDMI port next to it, and two more USB sockets in the back!
Apple CarPlay took care of all my voice commands via Siri, but if you connect your phone via Bluetooth (without CarPlay), you can also call out commands to your phone, if you‘ve stored voice tags on the CR-V’s system beforehand. If you have butter-fingers, all the switches and buttons are easy to press, lift or turn.
Is the pricey model the only one worth having?
You don’t have to spend R584 900 on the turbo-petrol models to experience the comfort and the safety of the CR-V range - the naturally aspirated two-litre CR-Vs (113 kW & 189 Nm) are all equipped with ABS, EBD and brake assist, as well as hill-start assist, driver attention assist, auto headlamps, stability control and 6 airbags as standard.
With the CR-V, Honda gets the family SUV right, to last detail: With legroom and luggage volume for days, storage binnacles for every conceivable small item, a special rear-view mirror that allows the driver to see the kids in the second row, enough ports to charge everyone’s phones and tablets, and safety features to put your frazzled mind at rest, I certainly hope that the CR-V will find its way into more South African, suburban garages.
For more info and the exact specifications on the CR-V reviewed above, click here.
CR-V 2.0 Comfort - R422 900
CR-V 2.0 Elegance - R477 900
CR-V 1.5T Executive AWD - R584 900
CR-V 1.5T Exclusive AWD - R626 900