Sometimes it’s good to get a press vehicle with more than 20,000km on the clock because we journalists don’t exactly spare the horses and you can really tell what a real-world example would be like at 40,000km.
In the case of the CRV, it faired very well. It still felt like a new car, but had loosened up nicely. Often we drive cars with less than a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock and they can feel a bit like they’re just warming up and would pull a muscle if all power and fury was available.
Not that much power and fury is available in the CRV. OK, there’s a bit of power, but it’s gentle and comforting rather than raucous and angry. There’s 140kW on tap at 7000rpm and that makes for confident overtaking power when you need it, but it’s not overkill. The N’s motor channels it through a 5-speed automatic gearbox with gear and grade logic (i.e. it detects when you are going downhill and holds it in a lower gear to avoid the speed creeping up). You can change gears yourself using the paddles on the steering wheel, too.
The quoted fuel economy is 8.7l/100km, presumably using the ECON drive assist mode, because I didn’t get near that.
The interior has Honda’s signature all over it. The only blot on the landscape are the slightly naff graphics in the satellite navigation. There are convenient phone-sized receptacles and cup holders between the front seat passengers, while the gearstick is half on the dashboard rather than directly above the transmission tunnel.
The instrument cluster is very clear – a big speedo in the middle that surrounds a trip computer on a small dot matrix screen. It’s not that modern, but it’s very functional. The rev counter, temperature gauge and fuel level play a supporting role one the sides.
The audio system connects to your phone and gives you multiple options for music sources – Bluetooth, radio, SD card, USB.
The seats are wide and comfortable. They won’t support your sideways momentum much if you start throwing the CRV around, but the CRV isn’t designed for rapid changes in direction. In the back there is an almost limousine level of legroom. The rear seats are the ‘one touch magic’ variety where you just need to pull a lever to have them fold down automatically. Check out this video:
This creates a very large loading area with a perfectly flat floor. The boot capacity is 556 litres with the rear seats up.
There are 6 airbags and Honda’s version of electronic stability control (Vehicle Stability Assist) which brakes each wheel independently to prevent you from spinning. If you go for the Sport NT it adds driver assist aids such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist System and Collision Mitigation Braking System. It gets a 5-star ANCAP crash test rating.
Exterior design is best described as ‘safe’. There’s nothing offensive. It looks like an SUV without any particularly strong design cues. You could probably stick a different badge on the front and fool 90% of people. The front and side views are much better than the rear. It’s apparent when you do look at the rear from the outside that the rear window has a small aperture and this becomes very apparent if you try to manoeuvre without using the reversing camera.
The CRV is four-wheel drive when it’s needed. In everyday driving there’s only power to the front wheels, but once they start to lose traction, power is transferred to the rear wheels and you get the benefit of additional security on slippery surfaces. Coupled with its 170mm ride height, you’ll find that you can get a little way off the road.
Honda has improved the CRV since the last model. There’s more power, better fuel economy, and some extra safety features (especially if you go for the NT). It’s a solid performer, but with stiff competition from the likes of the Mazda CX-5, it doesn’t stand apart from the crowd. If anything, it suffers from being a little bit anonymous. But if you have teenage kids (and teenagers seem to be extremely tall these days) they are going to really appreciate the large legroom in the back. There’s plenty of boot space, and the four-wheel drive gives you that bit of extra confidence on adventure excursions. But most of all, this CRV seems to have survived 20,000km of being a press runabout and demo car without any obvious signs of degradation, and that’s impressive in itself.
- Large and comfortable, especially in the back
- Seems a bit anonymous
Words and photos: Darren Cottingham