Variant: VTi X
Engine / Transmission: 1.5 turbo – CVT automatic transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 7.3L/100km combined
Price: From $40742 drive away
In a nutshell:
The new CR-V is a great family car and I would have no hesitation in recommending one to family and friends, but it’s not perfect.
I really like Hondas. They are bulletproof, often racking up mega mileage without incident, and have the build quality and clever design that makes them fit into any setting, but they are also almost always compromised in frustrating ways. Honda’s latest CR-V is no different. Luckily though, some of these minor criticisms can be addressed by jumping up a notch or two throughout the range.
Commendably, Honda has seen fit to equip all CR-Vs, except the entry level Vi, with Honda Sensing – Honda speak for their collection of driver safety aids. In addition to the expected autonomous braking and active cruise control, this suite of aids also includes one of the better lane keep assist systems available in this price range together with high beam assist – something that is usually reserved for much more expensive makes and models.
Unfortunately, this is where the cracks in ANCAP’s five star safety rating system start to appear. I have no doubt that the CR-V is an immensely safe way to travel, however, the headline grabbing high beam assist, or High Beam Support System in Honda speak, might tick a box over at ANCAP and contribute to the CR-V’s five star rating, but the system fails to take into account that on the non-LED headlight equipped models the halogen high beam is weak and oddly yellow – perfectly adequate in the burbs, or the dealer’s showroom, but next to useless on dark, country roads.
Another tech anomaly can be found in the blind spot warning system. Every other manufacturer in the world uses the ubiquitous little warning light in the side mirrors to notify the driver when there is a vehicle in their blind spot – it’s simple and it works. Kia and Hyundai supplement this system with rear view cameras that feed real time vision of the vehicle’s blind spots to the driver via dashboard displays.
I have previously found this system a novel idea, but, ultimately, I always just revert to relying on mirrors and the aforementioned little warning light. Honda, for reasons only known to boffins at Minato City, have done away with the little warning light and have instead gone with a rear view camera supplying vision of the CR-V’s blind spot to the central infotainment display. It requires the driver to switch their vision from the mirror, to an over-the-shoulder check, to the central display and back to the mirror before making a change of lanes. Worse still, it only operates on the passenger side. Furthermore, the poor resolution of the camera, especially at night, makes the system unworkable. Now, Honda, don’t go all French on us and change things for the sake of it! There is a reason why everyone else does it the same way – it works!
The CR-V is a beautifully quiet and smooth way to travel. The seats are plush and comfortable, vision is excellent and the cabin is breezy. Clever design features abound too, such as the 90 degree hinges for the back doors – why can’t everyone do this! The power tailgate with motion sensors will also prove to be really handy for young families and busy parents. Better still, the combination of deep, deep paint, splashes of chrome and piano finish trim makes the CR-V look much more expensive than it is.
The 1.5 turbo fitted to most of the range is perfectly adequate and mates well with the CVT transmission.
It really is a formula for a great family car.
Not So Impressive:
Unfortunately, despite all of this, Honda has chosen to equip the CR-V with one of the worst gear selectors I have come across in a long time. In this day and age where gears are selected by pressing a button or twirling a knob, the gear selector fitted to the CR-V feels like it’s been lifted straight from an ‘86 Corona. This wouldn’t be such a problem except that the gear selector is a touch point that you use all the time. It really lets down an otherwise classy cabin.
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Mazda’s CX-5 is a sharper handler, Toyota’s latest RAV4 is an impressive effort and the big hitters from Korea, Kia and Hyundai, are always worth a close look, but I like the CR-V a lot. It should definitely be on your short list of family SUVs.