Seven seats with snail’s pace
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