Lead­ing SUV keeps get­ting bet­ter

South Western Times - - Wheels - EWAN KENNEDY Mar­que Mo­tor­ing

HONDA was one of the ear­li­est play­ers in the fam­ily SUV busi­ness and has an ex­cel­lent rep­u­ta­tion with ex­ist­ing own­ers.

Many of them have re­mained loyal and moved to each new gen­er­a­tion as they have been launched. This is likely to be the case with the just in­tro­duced fifth gen­er­a­tion Honda CR-V.

This CR-V moves up in size and is of­fered here for the first time with third row seats. One in­ter­est­ing fea­ture is that ground clear­ance has been in­creased to 208mm from the 170mm of the just su­per­seded model.

Thus Honda is sig­nalling that the gen-five isn’t just a pretty sta­tion wagon, it can be used in semis­e­ri­ous off-road con­di­tions. Cen­tre humps on rough and ready bush tracks and fire­traps shouldn’t has­sle the Honda and it’s likely to cope with all but re­ally soft sand at the beach.

The so­phis­ti­cated all-wheeldrive sys­tem is set to bring the rear wheels into play within a few mil­lisec­onds of the fronts start­ing to slip. Some­thing that’s use­ful in day-to-day driv­ing on slip­pery bi­tu­men, not just off-road.

Clev­erly, the same ground clear­ance is re­tained on the two-wheeldrive (front wheels) mod­els so that own­ers who have no in­ten­tion of go­ing off-road still get the tough look of the high rider.

Hav­ing said that, it’s likely the great ma­jor­ity of Honda CR-Vs will spend far more time on the harsh school-shops-ten­nis-foot­ball runs than ex­plor­ing the wilds of Aus­tralia. So the gen-five not only of­fers an­other row of seats, but also has wider open­ing doors, eas­ily ad­justable seats and a vir­tu­ally flat floor through­out.

I found there to be enough legroom in the seat be­hind the driver’s to get com­fort­able for long trips. My age­ing knees weren’t too happy at get­ting into the rear-most seats, but lithe young­sters will wel­come the chance to get back there as far as pos­si­ble from mum and dad.

The cargo area is big in the fiveseater, at 522 litres, is well shaped and easy to load, the se­cond and third rows of seats can be folded flat in var­i­ous ar­range­ments. As is com­mon in this class of ve­hi­cle there is not a lot of space left if all seven seats are oc­cu­pied.

Power comes from a high-tech turbo-petrol four-cylin­der en­gine dis­plac­ing a mere 1.5 litres. Be­fore rolling your eyes up­wards at this ap­par­ently tiny pow­er­plant look at its out­puts – 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque all the way from 2000-5000 revs.

Mod­ern en­gine tech­nol­ogy is stun­ning, with elec­tron­ics keep­ing the en­gine at near to per­fect lev­els by con­stantly re­tun­ing each cylin­der in mil­lisec­onds. Thus ek­ing out the use of fuel and the min­imis­ing pol­lu­tants.

The CR-V’s en­gine is ably as­sisted by a so­phis­ti­cated CVT au­to­matic trans­mis­sion that doesn’t sound as fran­tic as some of the orig­i­nal units of its type. It may not please the revhead, but most driv­ers are un­likely to be aware it's a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. The best news of all is that while prices have risen marginally, when com­pared spec to spec with the out­go­ing model it of­fers sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter value.

On the road dur­ing a drive pro­gram or­gan­ised by Honda for the me­dia launch of the new CR-V we found it to be very smooth, quiet and un­flus­tered.

The en­gine is smooth and re­spon­sive with a min­i­mum of turbo lag. The trans­mis­sion is al­ways in the cor­rect ra­tio - which is hardly a sur­prise given it has an in­fi­nite num­ber of ‘gears’ and that ‘slip­ping-clutch’ noise has all but gone.

All-in-all the fifth gen­er­a­tion Honda CR-V is a most im­pres­sive piece of machin­ery. It’s smooth, quiet, spa­cious and will make an ex­cel­lent long dis­tance fam­ily cruiser. And all at a pretty mod­est price.

Stylish out­side and in, the lat­est Honda CR-V grabs plenty of at­ten­tion.

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