SALUTE THE FLAG­SHIP

The Chronicle - - Motoring - Craig Duff

VALUE

The flag­ship ver­sion of Honda’s pop­u­lar CR-V mid-size SUV is from $47,750-$49,350 on the road. Buy be­fore the end of the year and there’s a seven-year war­ranty backed by a seven-year road­side as­sist deal. The VTi-LX is equipped with leather-ac­cented up­hol­stery, heated front seats, dig­i­tal ra­dio, panoramic sun­roof and LED lights. Ser­vic­ing oc­curs every 12 months/ 10,000km and is capped at $295 for each visit.

COM­FORT

A spa­cious in­te­rior is a CR-V trade­mark and there’s plenty of space in the front or back, though the third row is a kids-only af­fair, as is the norm with mid-size 5+2 seaters. The er­gonomics are good and the over­all lay­out doesn’t give much away to its ri­vals, with de­cent stor­age space and soft-touch sur­faces. The seven-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen han­dles smart­phone mir­ror­ing but looks mun­dane and doesn’t op­er­ate with the classi­ness of the rest of the car.

SAFETY

Au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing is found only on the VTi-LX, bun­dled with adap­tive cruise con­trol and lane-keep as­sist. The Honda more than holds its own in crash tests. ANCAP rates it a five-star car, award­ing a score of 35.76/37 when tested last year. Six airbags are stan­dard.

DRIV­ING

Com­fort is the mo­ti­vat­ing force for the CR-V and it suc­ceeds in be­ing a sup­ple drive without be­ing too soft and spongy over speed humps. The 1.5-litre turbo’s out­puts are re­spectable but the con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion saps some per­for­mance in a bid to save fuel. The steer­ing is ac­cu­rate without much feed­back and the VTI-LX has the re­as­sur­ance of all-wheel drive for ven­tur­ing down sand or dirt tracks.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

VW TIGUAN COMFORTLINE $46,260-$48,100 D/A Sim­i­lar safety gear and a re­spon­sive 2.0-litre turbo make the VW a se­ri­ous ri­val to the CR-V. It atones for its firmer ride around town by be­ing more ac­com­plished as the speedo sweeps to­wards triple dig­its. KIA SPORTAGE $48,900-$50,120 D/A

A nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 2.4-litre has sim­i­lar power out­puts to the Honda but uses 1.1L/100km more fuel. The boot is also marginally smaller (that is, if the CRV’s third row isn’t be­ing used). TOY­OTA RAV4 CRUISER $44,990 D/A

The Toy­ota is the cheapest of the group, though the price ap­plies only un­til the end of the month. You get what you pay for and de­spite de­cent gear the RAV4 doesn’t drive as well as these ri­vals.

VER­DICT

It’s hard to over­look the Honda’s ver­sa­til­ity as an easy-driv­ing and spa­cious SUV. If pace isn’t a pri­or­ity, the CR-V has all the other bases cov­ered.

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