Seven seats with snail’s pace

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - TONY O’KANE

COM­PACT Recre­ational Ve­hi­cle – that’s what CR-V stands for. And even though the scourge of ‘bracket creep’ has seen cars grow longer, wider and taller in suc­ces­sive gen­er­a­tions, the all-new fifth-gen­er­a­tion CR-V stays true to its name. At 4596mm long it’s just 66mm longer than the first-gen­er­a­tion model that de­buted in 1997, and among the key al­ter­na­tives, it’s shorter than the RAV4, Forester, Koleos, Out­lander and X-trail.

This helps the CR-V feel wieldy and man­age­able, and yet this new model has grown in a vi­tal area – on the in­side. A 40mm wheel­base stretch and 35mm wider hips help de­liver that, and also makes room for a third row of seats for the first time ( VTI-L grade only).

A high-mounted gear se­lec­tor should feel fa­mil­iar to those cur­rently pi­lot­ing a fourth-gen CR-V, but the new car’s tex­tures, ma­te­ri­als and de­sign im­part a more pre­mium aura. That said, the base Vti’s bare ure­thane steer­ing wheel is a let­down.

An­other neg­a­tive are the roof­mounted – rather than back­rest­mounted – child seat top tether an­chor­ages. Not a great is­sue in the five-seater, but in the sev­enseat VTI-L grade it po­ten­tially ren­ders the third-row seats use­less. You can’t put child seats in the rear­most row ei­ther, so for­get about bring­ing gran, gramps, and the chil­dren along with you on your next fam­ily pic­nic.

The seven-seater’s sec­ond-row bench is also no­tice­ably firmer, flat­ter and higher than that of the five-seater CR-V, com­pro­mis­ing un­der-thigh sup­port, head­room, and com­fort. It takes some of the sheen off the CR-V’S oth­er­wise spa­cious and well-ar­ranged cabin.

At least there’s plenty of facelevel ven­ti­la­tion and a pair of back­seat USB charg­ing points to keep pas­sen­gers con­tent.

On the plus side, Honda has thor­oughly mod­ernised the CR-V’S me­chan­i­cals, slot­ting in the Civic’s boosted 1.5-litre petrol and culling the atmo 2.4.

Based on the tur­bocharged petrol in­line four that pow­ers Civics from VTI-L grade and up, the CR-V’S sole pow­er­plant boasts slightly larger mus­cles. Me­chan­i­cal tweaks, in­clud­ing a larger turbo, see power rise to 140kw and torque swell to 240Nm, mak­ing it the high­estout­put ver­sion of Honda’s 1.5-litre ‘Earth Dreams’ engine – putting it on even peg­ging with its pre­de­ces­sor’s 2.4-litre for power and 18Nm ahead for torque.

The old-tech five-speed auto has made way for a CVT that meshes well with the 1.5L’s re­spectable mid-range urge, and is a lot more will­ing and re­ac­tive than the con­tin­u­ously vari­able tranny in the ri­val Re­nault Koleos. There’s also a Sports shift mode for perkier step-off and quicker re­ac­tions to the throt­tle, should you re­quire.

As agree­able as the driv­e­train combo is, it’s in the ar­eas of sus­pen­sion com­po­sure and ride com­fort that the CR-V shines.

Whether on 17-inch or 18-inch al­loys, the fifth-gen CR-V de­liv­ers a pliant ride. Body con­trol is bet­ter than be­fore thanks to in­creased re­bound damp­ing that elim­i­nates the wal­lowy ride of the out­go­ing model, and im­proves the over­all sense of agility. A faster steer­ing rack (with only 2.2 turns lockto-lock), an ex­tra cen­time­tre of tyre tread width (now 235mm), and a lower cen­tre of grav­ity all con­trib­ute to the CR-V’S wel­come dy­namic ad­vance­ment.

The out­go­ing CR-V was of­ten a back­marker in Wheels tests, but its re­place­ment shows prom­ise. The neg­a­tives are few, and the fun­da­men­tals have been sharp­ened to a level where the CR-V now boasts gen­uine ap­peal in a very com­pet­i­tive seg­ment.

Turbo power and new chas­sis bring marked im­prove­ments

Model Honda CR-V VTI- S AWD Engine 1498cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo Max Power 140kw @ 5600rpm Max Torque 240Nm @ 2000rpm- 5000rpm Trans­mis­sion CVT au­to­matic Weight 1597kg 0-100km/ h 9.9sec ( claimed) Econ­omy 7.4L/ 100km Price $ 35,490 On sale Now

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