Exclusive: New Honda CR-V Review – 7 Seats, More Space, More Features
What you are seeing here is the fifth-generation 2017 Honda CR-V, which is expected to make its way to India sometime next year. We have managed to test drive the car in Australia, and here is our first drive review.
Honda CR-V needs no introduction to Indian. Having established itself for its entirety as a 5-seat no-nonsense, low-maintenance, petrol SUV. However, with the all-new generation model, Honda aims to change that image with a 7-seat option, and if reports are to be believed, a diesel engine as well.
As far as the exterior is concerned, the 2017 CR-V sports aggressively styled front and rear fascias with optional LED headlights. It isn’t a large departure from the outgoing CR-V’s design in that the overall shape remains more-or-less the same, especially when viewed from its side profile. There are no over-the-top design elements to make the CR-V look rugged, rather, the CR-V gives a rather good impression of being a practical family tourer which wouldn’t be uncomfortable with mild off-roading.
Where the outgoing CR-V measured 4,545 x 1,820 x 1,685 (L x W x H in mm), the 2017 model is longer and wider at 4,596 x 1,855 x 1,679, albeit a tad bit shorter. The wheelbase has also increased from 2,620 to 2,660 mm, which is apparent when you walk around the SUV.
Step indoors, and you are greeted with a modern, well built, user friendly cabin. As soon as you are sat inside, you notice the sheer space on offer: I felt I was sitting inside a much larger Toyota Land Cruiser-sized vehicle!
The driver is treated to a VW-like fully-digital instrument cluster which, as you might have guessed, can display various things like music, navigation, vehicle settings, service intervals etc., The minimalist center console features a 7-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The design of the screen itself, without any borders, is very BMW-like, though this Honda system is very easy to use in comparison to an iDrive. Unlike other displays which are quite inconvenient to touch, the 2017 CR-V sports a capacitive type unit, and features like pinch-to-zoom work rather well.
Below the display rests the gearbox and a few buttons such as the E-CON (energy efficient mode), electronic parking brake and brake hold buttons, while aft of that, there is generous amount of space to place your mobile devices. The HDMI, AUX and USB ports are tucked inside the central armrest console.
Moving to the second row, ingress and egress are a breeze thanks to the door which opens 90-degrees, though the same cannot be said about the last row. Honda has used the old-school method where you need to first fold the seat back, and then use another lever to tumble it forward, whereas manufacturers are embracing a single step operation these days. The second row is just as spacious as the outgoing CR-V if not more, though the seats could have improved thigh support.
The third row seat, as you might have guessed are best suited for children, or adults with a slim build, and that too for short distances only. Competitors such as the Ford Endeavour or the Toyota Fortuner score better in this aspect. Still, with all seats in place, the 2017 CR-V offers a decent 150 liters of luggage space, expanding to 472 liters with the third row folded and 967 liters with the second and third rows folded.
One thing I disliked about the new CR-V’s boot was that the third row seats don’t fold flat, though the parcel shelf can be aligned to make for a flat floor.
Under the hood, the 2017 CR-V I drove was powered by the 1.5-liter VTEC turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine putting out 188 hp at 5,600 rpm and 240 Nm of torque between 2,000-5,000 rpm paired to a CVT with 7 stepped ratios. For the Indian market, Honda is reportedly considering its 1.6-liter i-DTEC diesel engine in addition to a petrol option.
The VTEC turbo engine retains Honda’s trait when it comes to refinement. Even on the move, the engine makes itself audible only during high throttle inputs. I reckon the 1.5L VTEC Turbo moves the CR-V from 0-100 km/h in around 10 seconds, which isn’t too shabby. A surge of power kicks in post 2,000 rpm, and pulls the 1.5-tonne SUV strongly till around 4,000 rpm. However, the CVT with its inherent ‘rubber-band’ effect, does make sure you are applying gentle throttle inputs only.
The 2017 Honda CR-V uses the same platform as the tenth-generation Honda Civic. Overall, the increased stiffness of the chassis ensures that the new CR-V continues to have its car-like handling capability, something which current CR-V owners will be happy to hear.
Body roll, while present, is limited to those times when the driver forgets he/she is driving a vehicle with nearly 200 mm of ground clearance and takes corners aggressively. The ride quality though strikes a decent balance with comfort and sportiness, a typical Honda trait yet again. Note that the CR-V I drove rode on the larger 18-inch alloy wheels.
So, there you have it. The 2017 Honda CR-V is a well thought of successor for the outgoing model. It continues offering all the strengths of the old CR-V – the spacious, easy-to-use cabin, the potent powertrain, good ride and handling – added with the option of third row seats, fresh styling and plenty of added equipment.
The current CR-V sold in India has received lukewarm response from its launch, with sales accounting for around 65 units/month on average. The SUV costs between INR 23-25 lakhs, ex-Showroom, New Delhi for the 2WD and 4WD variants respectively. If Honda can price the new CR-V in the same ballpark, it should have the attention of its target buyers.
A diesel variant of the 2017 Honda CR-V, if launched in India, certainly has the potential to worry the likes of the Toyota Fortuner. Yes, a true SUV enthusiast may prefer the ladder-on-frame Fortuner for its off-roading capability, but for other audience, the CR-V may just fit the bill.
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