New Honda CRV: Utility mixed with a dollop of luxury

By: | Published: September 17, 2018 2:03 AM

This is the face of the future Honda, and inside the cabin there are buttons for every control, even for changing gears. Engines aren’t the most powerful in its class, but are fuel-efficient. And it drives like a luxury sedan.

The new-generation Honda CR-V is an entirely different SUV, and yet, at its core, it retains the characteristics that made it one of the largest selling SUVs in the world.

The new-generation Honda CR-V is an entirely different SUV, and yet, at its core, it retains the characteristics that made it one of the largest selling SUVs in the world—decent cabin space, futuristic design, SUV functionality, frugal engines and modern technology. For the first time in India, it will be launched with a diesel engine (on October 9). We drive it near Jaipur.

First two rows are very spacious; third row is tight, with almost negligible leg-space. To carry enough luggage you’ve to drop down third row seats

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 overall good road presence. But 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 you can move your arms around freely, and the seats are 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, with almost negligible leg-space, and is good only for small children. Ideally, the CR-V is not a seven-seater vehicle, but a 5+2-seater.

Is the cabin more luxurious?
The cabin is far too advanced—there are buttons for almost every control, even for changing gears (in the diesel model; the petrol model has a gear lever). In this area, the CR-V is miles ahead of a Fortuner or an Endeavour. The quality of the leather, of the fabric used, and of the plastics inside the cabin, matches what you find in German luxury SUVs made by an Audi or a BMW.

How good is the diesel engine?
The CR-V has the smallest engine in its class—1.6-litre i-DTEC turbo diesel. It produces 120ps (118bhp) power and a decent torque of 300Nm. But it’s a turbo engine—so while the pick-up is slow in the first couple of seconds, as the engine crosses 1,500-2,000rpm the CR-V gathers speed quickly, and from there on it doesn’t feel lacking in power. The nine-speed automatic gearbox helps both in acceleration and fuel-efficiency (claimed at 19.5kpl).

How good is the petrol engine?
This 2.0-litre motor does feel lethargic, at times—it produces a power of 152bhp. But its CVT gearbox ensures smooth acceleration, and it’s fuel-efficient for its size and weight (14.4kpl). The cabin is very quiet.

How does it drive?
Driving the CR-V is drama-free—it behaves exactly the way you want it to. On good roads, the ride is smooth; much like a luxury sedan. The cabin-noise levels are low (even in diesel), and the ride is focused on providing maximum comfort to the occupants. Unlike a Fortuner or an Endeavour, there is little body-roll. It looks so genteel that you wouldn’t want it to take it off the road, but if you do, the high ground clearance and large tyres can ensure you won’t get stuck.

Is it better than competitors?
The CR-V is a balanced combination of a fuel-efficient engine, comfortable cabin, sedan-like drive, and has the looks to go for it. It will compete against the Fortuner and Endeavour (seven-seaters), and Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Kodaiq (five-seaters). The CR-V offers you the best of these four—the space of a Fortuner, the driveability of an Endeavour, and sedan-like mannerisms and luxury feel of the other two. It doesn’t have the butch looks that some buyers have come to expect of a large SUV, but it’s a 5+2-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 on October 9.

(When buying big cars, you always have to ask yourself do you really need one, especially if you’re the only one driving it—as compared to small cars, they are expensive to maintain and difficult to park. Decide wisely.)

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