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.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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...

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