Cape Town - Though it may not seem like it locally, the CR-V is Honda’s best-selling vehicle globally. Not only that, but the outgoing fourth-generation was also the world’s best-selling SUV prior to the newcomer being launched in the market.
This new CR-V was already launched in international markets more than a year ago, but South Africa had to wait quite a while for the new recruit to arrive on local shores. And now that it has, the big question is whether this SUV has what it takes to again be a force to be reckoned with in this tightly contested segment of the market.
Trim and package
Let it be known from the off that there are no diesels available to the new CR-V range; only a 2.0-litre and 1.5-litre turbo petrol engines. The 2.0-litre models are available in Comfort and Elegance trims, while the turbo models are kitted in Executive and Exclusive trims.
The 1.5-litre sends its drive to all four wheels.
The list of features on the new CR-V is relatively extensive, which is why Honda has no optional extras available to any of the models.
The 2.0 Comfort features front, side and curtain airbags, hill start assist, and a rear view camera, to mention a few.
The 2.0 Elegance features, in addition to the Comfort, leather interior, heated front seats, and paddles behind the steering wheel to change gears with.
The 1.5T Executive sports 18” wheels, a panoramic sunroof, as well as cornering lights. The 1.5T Exclusive, in addition, features Honda’s Sensing driver assist system, lane watch (which is Honda’s term for lane assist), and tyre pressure monitor.
In typical Honda fashion, the interior is devoid of unnecessary clutter and buttons. It’s a clean layout all-round and materials feel sturdy. The dials in front of the driver are digital, but remains easy to read.
With the rear seats folded flat, cargo space increases in length to 1.8m. Six body colours are available.
Engines and gearbox
Both engine choices are mated to one gearbox, only: a seven-speed CVT ‘box. Honda took the gearbox under the proverbial knife again and set about fine-tuning it for application in the CR-V. There is definitely an improvement in the workings of the gearbox, but a CVT remains a CVT - not the most exciting to drive.
Yet, Honda tried to instil a sense of eagerness in the CR-V’s gearbox by making it more reactive to throttle inputs. It worked to a certain extent, but it still lacks instantaneous responsiveness. Changing gears via the steering wheel mounted paddles does create a sense of involvement, but not to the point where it’ll knock the socks off your feet.
The 2.0-litre engine kicks out 113kW/189Nm and Honda claims that it’ll return an economy of 7.3-litres/100km. The 1.5 turbo is good for 140kW/240Nm, but has a slightly better return of 7.0-litres/100km.
Improving the drive
The CR-V does offer a drive quality that is more solid than the trust in SA's government.
The suspension on the CR-V has been improved, but in addition to the MacPherson struts at the front, the rear suspension features an E-type multilink setup. And with more usage of hydraulics on the dampers and other pressure points of the suspension, the SUV’s ride quality does show improvements.
The Honda CR-V offers enough resistance to road conditions to always produce the best possible ride. Steering is direct and meaty at low speeds, but even at highway speeds it doesn’t portray a lack in feel. It’s noteworthy to mention that though the suspension gifts the CR-V with strong driving traits, sound insulation is commendable.
The noise from the 18" tyres and big side mirrors did not distract the ambiance in the cabin and there was almost a quietness about the cabin. Sure, it’s not entirely soundproof, but Honda stuck their heads out to dampen it as best they could. And it worked.
Is it good enough?
Towards the end of the fourth-generation CR-V’s run, the SUV surpassed the nine million mark for units sold in the 150 markets where it is on sale. Clearly, then, the CR-V has enough fire-power to make it a strong contender wherever and whatever it competes against. In light of this, the fifth-generation is an undoubted step up from the outgoing model.
There is improvement in how the vehicle comes together; which should put it in good stead for our market.
South Africans are renowned for being enthusiastic drivers, and the CVT gearbox will not play into those hands - a manual is sorely missed. But apart from the gearbox and any possible qualms Honda’s persistence with it might provoke, the new CR-V is another strong SUV from the Japanese manufacturer who has made it their mission to produce reputable and durable products.
Just putting in out there, but it might not be that big a surprise if the CR-V surpasses the 10 million-mark within the next two to three years.
• 2.0 Comfort CVT - R422 900
• 2.0 Elegance CVT - R477 900
• 1.5T Executive AWD CVT - R584 900
• 1.5T Exclusive AWD CVT - R626 900
All models come standard with a five-year or 90 000km service plan, five-year or 200 000km warranty, and three-year AA roadside assist.