The compact exercise
Whenever we learn of a new car, its brag sheet is usually a sea of improvements and additions over the outgoing model. In most cases, daring new shapes hide bigger dimensions and more powerful engines. Although peppered with improvements, the new Honda CR-V is no bigger or meaner than before.
This fourth generation model ties in with Honda’s admirable way of improving a vehicle – almost everything is a little lighter, a bit better, often more compact and more efficient which results in an extremely accomplished car.
This was already evident at its local launch last year and after spending a few days with Honda South Africa’s biggest vehicle, the attention to detail really sank in. Their previous CR-V was very well-engineered yet it feels like they went over every aspect with a fine comb.
You won’t find huge spikes in power output here, nor are there new engines to write about. The Honda CR-V uses existing motors which have all been slightly tweaked for better efficiency. Depending on engine and trim choice, gearboxes and four-wheel-drive systems have been given the same lecture.
Responding to consumer wishes, Honda even introduced a 2-litre petrol 4×2 version at just N$299,900 while their punchy 2.2-litre turbo-Diesel 4×4 model tops the range at N$499,900. Our test car can be found three-quarters through the line-up at N$444,900 and answers to the name of 2.4 Executive AWD.
Only available with a five-speed automatic, the legendary 2.4-litre petrol four-cylinder engine develops 140kW (190hp) or 220Nm in this vehicle. 0-100km/h takes 11 seconds, top speed is 190km/h and average fuel consumption is a claimed 8.7L/100km. Average CO2 emissions are 207g/km.
Our test regime of suburban, city and highway traffic yielded average consumption of 9.8L/100km, not too far off the manufacturer’s claim and acceptable for an automatic vehicle weighing 1,624kg. More importantly, the 2.4 auto CR-V never felt disappointing, old or sluggish.
Sure, there are many nippier cars out there but ye olde Accord engine and the five-speed automatic gearbox with Sport mode and shift paddles produce decent torque and drivability. Full-throttle capers aren’t too impressive but you’ll pass slower traffic with the trademark Honda shriek and super-smooth shifts.
Passenger comfort and road holding are excellent for a modern SUV and the new CR-V’s interior appeared to have been carved from one solid block of whatever they make interiors of. The different materials gel well and show great quality while we only heard a tiny, occasional squeak from the hand-brake.
Seating comfort in both rows is superb and this model spoils front passengers with two-stage heating in their leather seats. The driver gets electric adjustments and two memory settings, too. CR-V’s rear bench contorts in many ways or folds in a 60/40 split to extend boot space from 589L to 1,146L.
The thick steering wheel is fully adjustable and offers multi-function buttons for the trip computer, sound system, Bluetooth and cruise control. All instruments are finely marked and an Econ button with multi-colour displays aims to improve your fuel consumption with reduced throttle response.
Whereas the instruments’ computer is comprehensive, we find Honda’s new infotainment system in the centre console a bit boring and rather limited. Its operation isn’t always intuitive and we miss items like media browsing, vehicle settings, more trip read-outs and an easier Bluetooth setup.
It took me a full five minutes to discover that in order to pair a new cellular phone you have to press “No” when asked if you’d like to add a new ‘phone. Although the voice-guided process is probably a once-off exercise, resetting a trip meter was almost as complicated.
Items which impressed every time included the Executive CR-V’s automatic bi-Xenon headlights with self-adjustment. The sound system is just as impressive and offers CD, mp3, wma, auxiliary, ipod, USB and Bluetooth connectivity to thump your favourite tunes through six speakers and a subwoofer.
Safety is taken care of by ABS brakes with emergency assistants, vehicle stability assist, hill start assist, trailer assist, tyre deflation warning, active cornering lights, six airbags, active front headrests, ISOFIX anchors, alarm/immobiliser, LED daytime lights, auto lock and the optional ADAS driver assist system.
Convenience items include auto wipers, remote central locking, speed limiter, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, front and rear park beepers, rear-view camera, power windows and mirrors (heated, retractable), ambient interior lighting and 11 cup-holders; among others.
Each CR-V 2.4 Executive is sold with a 3-year/100,000km warranty and 5-year/90,000km service plan and while its price is a bit steep, I believe the quality, refinement and road manners of this Honda easily justify its premium. But don’t just take my word for it – go test-drive one today.
0-100m: 7.0s / 77.5km/h
0-200m: 10.9s / 101.5km/h
0-300m: 14.1s / 119.2km/h
0-400m: 16.9 / 131.3km/h
1/4mile: 17.0s @ 81.7mph (131.5km/h)
Climate Sunny, warm
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3