The new Honda CR-V might not get everyone’s pulse racing, but neither will it send your blood pressure through the roof by dropping you in the dwang. It’s this reliability that’s made the CR-V one of the most popular SUVs ever, says Pierre Steyn.
After the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, a self-pitying President John F. Kennedy declared: “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan”. At the other end of the success-spectrum, people queue up to claim that they are the inventor of something spectacular… like the internet. Even a guy like Al Gore, who nearly became American president, boldly claimed that he was the father of the World Wide Web. The same goes for car manufacturers that seemingly take turns to claim that it was their company that put the first SUV on the market 20 or 30 years ago. This parental possessiveness boils down to the success of the SUV segment, the only one that seems to be growing in a struggling economy. These days every manufacturer has an SUV, even ultra-luxury brands such as Lamborghini and Bentley have built one. It surely doesn’t matter if you were the first to sell an SUV in 1989, 1991 or 1995; what matters now is how many you can sell. And it’s here where the fourth-generation Honda CR-V has been crowned as the world’s most popular SUV, selling 9 million cars in 150 countries in little more than four years.
It’s not a flashy car, but it’s a reliable all-rounder that’s safe, cheap to run, built to last, and has good resale value. Now there’s a brand new fifth generation in the market. We chose a wet day in the Western Cape to find out if Honda was silly to mess with a winning concept. The short answer is no, they didn’t – and here’s why.
On the outside
Honda’s designers tried to incorporate some of the more extrovert elements of the smaller Honda Civic, things like pronounced contour lines on the bonnet, curved headlights, and sharp-angled rear lights, into the design of the CR-V. But this doesn’t turn it into a rap artist. Instead, it still resembles a wellgroomed, neatly dressed gent that combs his hair and applies Nugget to his shoes. Protective cladding applied to the lower sections of the car’s body panels and scuff plates at the front and rear of the car are there to remind you that it’s fine to tackle the occasional gravel road in a CR-V.
On the inside
The interior bears testament to some of the major upgrades in the new CR-V. Even though the car is not necessarily larger than its predecessor, the interior does feels roomier thanks to the wheelbase that’s been extended. Legroom in the back has grown by 9 cm, and there’s more shoulder room for both front and rear passengers. The back seats now fold down completely flat, which effectively doubles the cargo space from 522 ℓ to 1 084 ℓ. The days of analog dials are over, and in the new CR-V all the essential information is now shown on a digital display. There’s another digital display in the central dashboard, just above the gear lever, that controls the car’s infotainment system. It syncs easily with your Apple or Android device.
Under the bonnet
The most notable change is the addition of a turbocharged petrol engine, which is a first for the CR-V. There was once a time when Honda was as averse to turbocharged engines as Romain Poite is to running-rugby, but the world has changed. Now there’s a 1 498 cc turbo engine in the two top CR-V models (the 1.5 T Executive and the 1.5 T Exclusive), and a computer decides how much power the part-time AWD system should send to the front or back wheels. The engine, linked to a constantly variable transmission (CVT), delivers 140 kW at 5 600 rpm and 240 Nm torque through a broad range between 2 000 rpm and 5 000 rpm. Who knows, one day we might even get a >
It’s the kind of car you tackle the long road with - en route to a favourite holiday destination. Secure in the knowledge that you’ll tour in in comfort.
French rugby referee that doesn’t feel the need to blow his whistle every 30 seconds. (I’m not holding my breath. – Ed) The two entry-level cars, the 2.0 litre Comfort and Elegance, use the same four-cylinder i-VTEC petrol engine that did duty in the previous CR-V. A CVT transmission sends power to the front wheels only. This engine produces 113 kW at 6 500 rpm and 189 Nm at 4 300 rpm.
Behind the wheel
The fifth-generation CR-V rides on a brand new chassis, and the biggest advantage of this is probably the car’s increased torsional rigidity. Practically this means road-holding and ride comfort are better than before (not that it was at all bad in the old CR-V). The front and rear suspension has also been tweaked, once again to make the ride more comfortable. Honda may be heavily involved in Formula One but the CR-V is not the kind of car you’re going to go drag racing with. Instead, you’ll tackle the long road to a favourite holiday destination with your family, secure in the knowledge that you’re going to tour in comfort. It’s the kind of car which Grand Prix racers like Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne (his name really is Stoffel and he really is Alonso’s teammate at McLaren) will buy for their parents because they love their papa and mama.
All the elements that contributed to the success of the first four generations of the CR-V are still present in the new car. It’s just been refined and the technology updated so that it’s now a thoroughly modern car. Although the competition is fierce in the world of SUVs, this particular king might still rule for some time to come. go! Drive & Camp says The warranty on the whole range is 200 000 km or five years, and a service plan of 90 000 km or five years is included.
NEW FRONTIERS. Honda’s gone for a more extroverted look this time round. This is the first time CR-V uses a turbopetrol, which found a home in the two top models. The ECU decides when to send power to all fours.
HIGHLY RATED. A touch display allows integration with smartphones and control of infotainment. The rear seats can fold virtually flat, maximising cargo room when the need arises. A longer wheelbase means that taller rear passengers won’t scrape knees...