It’s completely different, and yet as familiar as a CR-V. The next generation of Honda’s flagship SUV, which will be launched in India next month, comes across as a good combination of decent cabin space, futuristic exterior design, SUV-like functionality and modern technology. We drive it in the Philippines.
How different does it look?
The CR-V has been completely restyled—this is the face of the future Honda. It now has a bigger body, sophisticated chassis, athletic stance, sharper character lines, more defined silhouette, higher ground clearance (208mm), and good road presence. However, it doesn’t look as behemoth of a vehicle as a Toyota Fortuner or a Ford Endeavour. The CR-V is more urban, more urbane.
Is the cabin more spacious?
Honda has a design philosophy called ‘Man Maximum, Machine Minimum’, which maximises the space available for people and minimises the space required for mechanical components. The same is seen in the new CR-V. It’s got seven seats, and is the most spacious CR-V ever made. The front two seats are so spacious that you can move your arms around freely, and the seats are very supportive. The second row can easily accommodate three large-sized adults—the central tunnel, which usually eats into the leg-space of the person sitting in the middle, is almost non-existent. But the third row of seats is tiny, and is good only for small children. Overall, if you really want to buy a seven-seater vehicle, you should go for an MPV such as a Toyota Innova Crysta. The CR-V, on the other hand, is best ‘used’ and must be seen as a five-seater luxury SUV, with two extra seats, if needed.
Is the cabin more luxurious?
The cabin is far too advanced—there are buttons for almost every control, even for changing gears. In this department, the CR-V is miles ahead of a Fortuner or an Endeavour. In fact, the quality of the leather and the fabric used, and that of plastics, matches what you can find in German luxury SUVs made by an Audi or a BMW.
How good is the diesel engine?
The CR-V will be launched in India next month powered by the 1.6-litre i-DTEC turbo diesel engine. This motor produces maximum power of 120ps (118bhp) at 4000rpm and a good torque of 300Nm at 2000rpm. The version we drove in the Philippines is mated to the 9-speed automatic gearbox, which will most probably be launched in India. It has a fuel tank capacity of 57 litres.
How does the CR-V drive?
Driving the CR-V is drama-free—it behaves exactly the way you want it to. On good roads, the ride is very smooth; much like it is in any luxury sedan. The cabin-noise levels are low, and the overall ride is more focused on providing maximum comfort to the occupants. Unlike a Fortuner or an Endeavour, there is very little body-roll in the CR-V. The brake pedal appears well-weighted and the CR-V feels safe even under harsh braking. If you somehow take it off the road, the high ground clearance, large tyres and the 300Nm torque can ensure you won’t get stuck. But it looks so genteel that you won’t want it to take off the road. And it’s fuel-efficient, too. While driving it over two days on both highways and the rush-hour Manila traffic (one of the most congested in the world), the CR-V managed to return about 11kpl.
Is it better than competitors?
The Honda CR-V is a balanced combination of a fuel-efficient and powerful engine, comfortable and spacious cabin, sedan-like drive, and has the looks to go for it. When it is launched next month, it will compete against the Fortuner, Endeavour, Hyundai Santa Fe (all are seven-seaters), and Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodaiq (five-seaters). The CR-V appears to come across as an SUV that gives you the best of these five SUVs—the space of a Fortuner, the driveability of an Endeavour, and the sedan-like mannerisms and luxury feel of the other three. While it doesn’t have is the butch looks that some buyers have come to expect in a large SUV, it’s a five-plus-two-seater SUV that can do a lot of things, from a family trip around the city to an adventure out of town. Its price will be announced next month, and it could be near the `30 lakh mark.