A Bimmer and a yacht; now that’s the ultimate driving experience.
‘It shares platforms with the Civic and has liquid-filled suspension mounts’
Every time I drive out to Bataan, it’s in the middle of a bloody typhoon. Standing here atop a rock, facing the tempestuous waves whipped up by Typhoon Gorio, I’m tempted to recite Whitman’s ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ into the wind. Simply surviving the five-hour drive here feels like that big of a deal. “The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won...” And what a prize it is. Sitting there, wet, cold, and miserable on the gravel, surrounded by photographers and assorted camera equipment, is the very first diesel-powered Honda CR-V in the country. A sexy thing, its shark-like LED headlights, pronounced fender flares, bulldog stance, and slashing rear haunches representing a huge improvement over its slab-sided predecessor. Thankfully, this story does not begin or end with a dead seaman. But as a sudden squall nearly bowls us (and half our equipment) over, we retreat to the CR-V’s warm embrace, just in case. Raindrops like icy pebbles come crashing down as we close the doors. We are still wet, but no longer cold and miserable.
The CR-V is an awfully nice place in which to ride out a storm. The old car had the best legroom in its class. A wheelbase stretched by 41mm gives this model an astounding 1,025mm of rear legroom. Slide the second row all the way back and you gain a few fingers more still. Slide it partway forward, and you can fit adults with adult-size legs in the third row.
While cleverly spaced seat rails make for decent third-row foot space, the second row loses the single-touch tilt-and-tumble lever from the previous car—a loss you bemoan when actually trying to squeeze into the space behind. The roof-mounted A/C and panoramic sunroof cut into the headroom back here, but it’s far better accommodations than the woeful jump seats on the 2002 ‘10-seater’ CR-V. And all that glass presents a lovely view of the gray skies outside.
Once the rain lets up, it’s time to pop the parking brake and roll out. That brake is now a push-button device sitting beside a push-button shifter copped straight from the Honda Legend. While flicking between Drive and Reverse this way feels a bit weird, there’s nothing weird about the way the CR-V goes down the road. Built on the same platform as the new Civic, the CR-V boasts liquidfilled suspension mounts, floating subframes, and an ultra-rigid chassis that’s nearly 60% high-strength steel. This all-wheel-drive SX variant further boasts an impressive 208mm ground clearance (up 10mm on front-wheeldrive counterparts), tubular crash bars around the fuel tank, and heavy-duty cast rear suspension arms (versus stamped steel on other variants). Despite the huge 235/60 R18 Michelin tires, these improvements give excellent wheel control, and eliminate shimmy and judder over deep ruts. It’s a huge leap over the soft-riding predecessor.
A widened track, thick anti-roll bars, and Honda’s Agile Handling Assist system make short work of the twists and turns of Bataan’s hillsides, though conditions are nowhere near dire enough to trigger the all-wheel-drive system. The recalibrated electric steering is satisfyingly sharp and firm,