Full Throttle

First Drive Review: The New Honda CR-V

There’s good news and there’s bad news. The bad news is that there is no diesel and will not be for the foreseeable future.  The good news is, CR-V is now being assembled in India and prices have gone down by a whopping 2.7 lakh rupees. Well, that’s incentive enough to show some love for a petrol SUV, so let’s find out if the new price and features make it a good bargain; also how far the fourth generation CR-V has departed from the model it replaces.

Design

While the new CR-V’s structural design stays true to its roots, it flaunts a more sculpted body. Major changes are up front – the old-fashioned grille has made way for a more contemporary one. The three-bar grille flanked by swept-back HID headlamps lends the car a younger and distinct stance. Changes in profile are subtle, although the large ten-spoke alloy wheels and bold fender flares create a rugged presence.The vertical tail lamps, which have been a design fixture of the CR-V for many years, get a more three dimensional treatment that enhances the appearance and aerodynamics of the vehicle. The new CR-V gets a shark fin antenna that accentuates its sportiness.

The overall interior design of the new CR-V has been largely improved. Honda’s ‘man maximum, machine minimum’ packaging approach has created a spacious, functional cabin. The dual tone cabin feels classy with beautifully soft leather seats and a well appointed dashboard solidly made from good-quality plastics.

One of the most significant new interior features is the ‘one motion dive down’ rear seats. If the vast expanse of cargo area is not sufficient for you, just pull a lever near the tailgate and the rear seats flat-fold to free up 1648 litres of cargo space.

Another thoughtful addition is the Eco Assist system, along with a new ECON operating mode. When in use, the system adjusts the overall performance of the vehicle to improve fuel efficiency. While testing the system, the CR-V returned 14.5 kmpl, as against the claimed mileage of 13.7 kmpl.

Performance, Ride and Handling

Like Honda’s other i-VTEC engines, the 2.4 litre DOHC unit is a gem of an engine that revs with verve to 7000rpm where 190 PS is produced. This is 29 PS more than the outgoing model. Also available is a 2.0 litre SOHC i-VTEC that develops 156PS and 190 NM of torque. Both engines are mated to a 5 speed automatic transmission; the 2.0L variant comes with a 6 speed manual transmission, too.

The 2.0L CR-V’s auto box shifts neatly but isn’t as decisive as the best automatics around, so I prefer the manual. The 2.4L gets paddle shifters for a more controlled drive, so you can have some fun taking it out on the highway or up the twisties.

The CR-V has been among the SUVs that drive more like a sedan than an off-roader and the tradition continues in the fourth generation. You will particularly be impressed with the overall ride quality of the new CR-V, thanks to the tweaked suspension isolation properties, additional noise insulation and greater body rigidity. The advanced suspension design means the driver feels more confident around sharp corners and the passengers have a pleasant time over rough roads.

On the safety front, the CR-V gets Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) as standard equipment, along with ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, G-CON, Hill Start Assist, dual front and curtain airbags, whiplash mitigation front seat etc.

Overall, the fourth generation Honda CR-V brings you everything you loved about it, plus a little more. Although the lack of a diesel engine is a major downside, the increasing diesel cost and the aggressive pricing of the new CR-V will give some nightmares to the top dogs in the game.

Honda has priced the base 2.0L MT variant at Rs 19.95 lakh and the 2.0L AT at Rs 20.85 lakh. The 2.4L AT comes at Rs 22.40 lakh and the top trim level 2.4L AVN at Rs 23.85 lakh.

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Yahoo India | Photo by Clint Thomas
Sun 24 Feb, 2013 6:30 PM IST

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