The renewed charge
The Honda CR-V enjoys quite a strong following in our neck of the woods, primarily due to its versatility, comfort, quality and incredible reliability. As the fourth generation ties its laces in the starting block, you may even find first or second generation cars still motoring around your neighbourhood.
Launched in 1995, the CR-V was updated in 2001 and again in 2006, raking in an impressive 130 awards worldwide. Honda South Africa immediately admits that their compact SUV is a very important model and one of the company’s life lines in the local market.
2012 proved to be rather challenging and the results of natural disasters wreaked havoc with supply. Production is up and running again so Honda’s renewed charge has a solid cornerstone in the CR-V, one of the pioneering compact SUV’s which has been sold over 5 million times.
South Africa is just one of 160 countries which offer the CR-V and to date, about 17,000 units have been sold locally. This new model was built to continue its predecessor’s popularity while carefully improving on key elements of the vehicle. Efficiency, functionality and confidence topped the list.
The previous car’s looks have been tightened and in Honda’s unique way, the car has even shrunk in some areas. These include length, height, boot floor height, loading lip height and front visibility. Mixed with their innovative engineering, all these decreases actually translate into more versatility and space.
Wheelbase remains the same and the CR-V now has a more car-like driving position, a more adjustable seat ensuring that it doesn’t lose any of the previous car’s driver height. The cargo area is best in class (up from 524 to 589L) and now features a lever near the tailgate which drops the 60/40 split rear seats. Completely flat, obviously.
Another best note goes to the car’s drag coefficient which uses updated aerodynamics and a flat floor to lower drag by 6.5%. LED daytime running lights and LED rear light clusters give the exterior a boost, while the new interior boasts with a clever centre console and pleasing materials.
The CR-V now features Honda’s multi-info central display and revised infotainment controls, more structural rigidity, a comfier suspension with lower mounting points, better turning radius, anti-whiplash front seats, improved noise damping (2db improvement) and ECON mode.
This mode aims to lower fuel consumption and emissions with driver prompts, engine mapping and air-con optimisation. Critically, the new CR-V offers a host of safety systems like ABS brakes with emergency force distribution and assistance, six airbags, vehicle stability assist, trailer assist, deflation warning system and hill start assist.
Honda’s ADAS advanced safety system with adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation and braking as well as lane keep assist is standard on the top model and optional for all others. The same goes for active Bi-Xenon cornering lights, all other models have halogen projector lamps.
Engine tweaks are minor but most certainly welcome – the thriftier 2-litre petrol four-cylinder pushes out 4kW and 2Nm more while expelling less CO2, 2.2L turbo-Diesel also drops its CO2 output while the trusty old 2.4L petrol four-cylinder has been upgraded from 132 to 140kW (190hp).
The five-speed automatic gearbox (six-speed manual also available on some models) offers Sport mode and manual override via two paddles on the steering wheel. The auto-shifter usually takes over again after a few seconds of paddle inactivity except when cornering – we confirmed this on our drive.
Further improvements to the CR-V are a better rolling resistance and revisions to its automated four-wheel-drive system. Where the previous car was front-wheel-drive and only activated the rear wheels when slip was detected, the new car will always start off in 4×4 mode unless it detects dry, level tarmac. Amazing, hey?
This means that the CR-V should be slightly more capable in the mild off-roading world of soft SUV’s. When it comes to commuting around town and zipping along the highway, the CR-V is definitely a top contender. Honda South Africa have even addressed its biggest downfall: the price.
Based on extensive research, they haven’t dropped their prices (and with it, quality or reliability) but are introducing an entry-level, 2-litre petrol, manual, front-wheel-drive CR-V for just N$299,900. The rest of the range climbs through the 300’s and 400’s to end with the 2.2 turbo-Diesel Exclusive for N$499,900.
The updates to this car are small but plentiful and the wider range with varying specifications and options certainly complete a pleasing improvement. All CR-V’s are sold with a 3-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year/90,000km service plan but that is pretty irrelevant as it’s a Honda and likely to go on forever.
Prices [November 2012]
CR-V 2.0 Comfort FWD 6-Manual N$299,900
CR-V 2.0 Comfort AWD 5-Auto N$339,900
CR-V 2.4 Elegance AWD 5-Auto N$399,900
CR-V 2.4 Executive AWD 5-Auto N$444,900
CR-V 2.2D Elegance AWD 6-Manual N$405,900
CR-V 2.2D Elegance AWD 5-Auto N$418,900
CR-V 2.2D Exclusive AWD 6-Manual N$486,900
CR-V 2.2D Exclusive AWD 5-Auto N$499,900