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2018 Honda CR-V Road Test

Introduction

Carmakers in India tend to exploit the phrase ‘all-new’ but when it comes to the latest iteration of the Honda CR-V, it is appropriate. This 2018 model is the biggest generation change yet for the SUV, and it’s a stronger proposition than ever as a result. The CR-V, in fact, now has a completely new look inside-out, a new platform and for the first time, a diesel powertrain. It is safe to say that it represents Honda’s best effort yet at competing in the premium SUV segment, led as ever by the Toyota Fortuner and now the Ford Endeavour and the Skoda Kodiaq. Here we have sampled the diesel-automatic version for the full-on road test treatment and other than the cramped third row and the rather ordinary infotainment system, there is plenty to like about the ‘all-new’ CR-V. Here’s how it fares.    

Design and Style

There is no doubt that the new CR-V cuts a striking form. It is, subjectively, a looker in a segment where road presence and visual cues are the norm. Slightly longer, wider and taller than its predecessor, the 2018 model has what it takes to be visually appealing. Firstly, there’s the crisp front-end with the all-LED headlights and fog lights that we like – they are bright and look great when lit. What’s more, the aggressively styled headlamp units with the wing-shaped daytime running lights and the flared wheel arches give the CR-V that much needed muscle. The CR-V looks noticeably wider than the old car and that’s because of the strong shoulder line that tapers upwards towards the rear. At the back, you no longer get a split-tailgate arrangement, however, we are glad the CR-V still maintain its low loading lip.

At 4592mm in length, 1855 in width and 1689 in height, the CR-V is fairly big but it’s nowhere as tall or long as big ladder-frame SUVs like the Fortuner or the Endeavour. That said, it matches the Fortuner for width and also, the 2660mm wheelbase is rather impressive for a soft-roader.  

Interior

Inside, the CR-V continues to impress. A big departure from the old-school look of the previous gen CR-V, the cabin is both spacious and well laid out with some cleverly placed storage bins that not only lend it an air of plushness, but also make for a practical daily driver. The build quality is right on the money and barring the plasticky steering mounted buttons, nothing in here feels cheap or badly put together. In fact, the cabin design and layout is a big highlight of this car, given its in here the owners will spend time, it’s a big draw card for choosing it over the rivals. The dash for instance is all black with shiny gloss black trim pieces whereas the door pads are a mix of beige, wooden inserts and gloss black trim pieces. Somehow, this amalgamation of materials works well to create a soothing ambience. All in all, the cabin has got character for sure and though it’s not quite as contemporary as the Kodiaq, it certainly looks and feels better than the Fortuner. 

The new CR-V leaves a good impression when you set yourself into the front seat. Even though you tend to sink deep into the seat rather than that ‘on it’ feeling you get from some of the rivals, the space in here is great for a mid-size SUV. The front seats are snug and supportive and foot well is generous as well despite the wide centre console. Visibility, too, is excellent thanks to the huge glass area and a driving position that’s set high enough to provide good all-round vision. But if that’s still not enough, there is a segment-first camera based system which enhances driver’s view of side traffic. Honda calls it ‘Lane Watch Camera’ and this system uses a camera on the passenger-side mirror – the driver can have a live feed of the traffic in the car’s blind spot, on the infotainment screen. All said and done, it really works and offers a lot of convenience on our often jam-packed roads.   

Space in the second row is good for this segment – there is plenty of legroom and the rear seat itself is nicely contoured and offers adequate thigh support. The seat back and the base are properly bolstered although it’s best to have two occupants for that cocooned feeling. What’s not so impressive is the third row accommodation – there is no legroom for adults when the sliding second row is set far back. Also, the rear most occupants (presumably kids) would be forced to sit in the knees-up position due to the high floor and the low seat height although to be fair the CR-V isn’t a proper 7-seater. It’s more of a 5+2 offering where the third row is ideal only for short distances. We would like to add that the 7-seater configuration is available only in the diesel version (the petrol version seats five only). Overall, the third row can only accommodate short occupants and you might want to line the passengers up by height and relegate the shortest in here.

 

With all rows up, the boot space is 150 litres which is good enough for a couple of soft bags at most. But with the last two seats folded, it can be extended to 472 litres. Better still, there’s all of 936 litres of luggage space when both rows are folded. 

Safety and Equipment

Moving on to the piece de resistance which is the 7-inch infotainment system. It’s not earth-shattering by any means, but it does offer decent sound quality. While the 7-inch display looks premium, it’s hardly user-friendly – the whole UI looks aftermarket and switching between the menus takes a while. What’s more, the graphics aren’t what you would expect to see in a car of this segment. Similarly, the fully digital instrument cluster isn’t that impressive under sunlight as the screen looks dull and not as crisp as we would have liked. That said, it does make for a visual treat at night, standing out from the rest of the interior bits. 

The top-spec CR-V also gets a two zone climate control, roof mounted air-vents, push button start/stop, electric lumbar adjust and a panoramic sunroof. In terms of safety, there is ABS with EBD and brake assist, front and side curtain airbags, ESC, motion-adaptive power steering, driver attention monitor, electronic parking brake, automatic brake hold and hill assist.

Engine, Performance and Braking

Things get a little interesting as we move onto the drivetrain. With a 1.6-litre diesel motor, the CR-V isn’t the strongest pick in its segment when it comes to engine displacement. Putting out 120bhp and 300Nm, you might even call it underpowered and deem it rather slow. Having said that, it gets the job done most of the time. The noise insulation is superb and you don’t hear the engine clattering under normal driving, but there is no getting away from the fact that it’s a modest engine at best, offering adequate punch around town but lacking mid-range oomph and that relentless surge when going flat out or in situations that call for strong acceleration. 

All in all the CR-V hums along nicely, thanks largely to the 9-speed automatic which offers smooth and barely perceptible gear changes. It is a smooth transition from stop and go traffic snarls to triple digit speeds on the highway. The only complaint we have is that the difference in performance in D and S mode is insignificant - it’s just that in S you will have some engine braking whereas in D, the CR-V begins to coast as soon as you get off the throttle. One might be wondering if they really need 9 gears and in the city, the answer is no. However, when you have modest power outputs, the short gear ratios actually allow the engine to spin at the meat of its torque band more often than you would imagine, which does help in real world performance. Speaking of which, the CR-V completed the 0-100kmph sprint in a surprisingly quick 11.62 seconds. It went on to hit 150kmph in 29.45 seconds. However, under roll-on acceleration tests it struggled a bit, taking 9.24 seconds and 7.03 seconds to complete the 40-100kmph and 20-80kmph runs respectively. 

 

Ride and Handling

The ideal way to drive the CR-V is to stick the gearbox in S and make the most of the midrange grunt and the thoroughly comfortable ride. The MacPherson struts out front and a multi-link rear offer a firm, yet comfortable low speed ride. Bumps and road imperfections are barely felt inside and overall, the noise intrusion is among the lowest in this class which is commendable considering that Honda India’s other diesel-powered models are known to be a tad unrefined and noisy. At high speeds, there is a bit of road noise but that’s par for the course. What’s impressive though is that the CR-V remains planted at speed and that’s down to the trick dampers which come with two different sizes of tubes, one for small vertical movements and the other one which is engaged when it senses longer suspension travel. It does work on the road as the car absorbs and isolates sharp undulations effectively and the damper’s resistance calibration means the body remains settled, too, with none of the jolts that you get from larger rivals.

Like its predecessor, the new CR-V’s steering and chassis has a lot to give. Unlike other SUVs which cannot really mask their weight at speed, the CR-V feels like a car, ducking into corners eagerly and staying flat mid-corner. The body control is fantastic though what’s even better is the steering feel – it’s light, direct and offers just the right amount of resistance as you go off centre. Modest drivetrain aside, the diesel CR-V is genuinely fun to drive and deserves a punchier motor.

Price and Fuel Economy

The new CR-V can be had in three variants – 2WD petrol auto, 2WD diesel auto and AWD diesel auto. The base petrol costs Rs 33.21 lakhs whereas the AWD diesel auto is priced at Rs 39.24 lakhs. The 2WD diesel auto comes in at Rs 36.75 lakhs. All prices on-road Mumbai. 

As for the all-important fuel economy, the CR-V diesel posted probably the highest figures we have had from a mid-size SUV. In the city, it delivered 12.33kmpl whereas on the highway, the 9-speed auto kept the engine spinning relatively low to deliver as much as 17.86kmpl.  

Verdict

The way we see it, the new Honda CR-V is a solid all-round package. It looks posh, has a top-notch cabin and rides brilliants. The excellent visibility, light controls and a spacious rear seat give it an edge over the competition. It’s not all roses, though – the third row accommodation is tight and that unresponsive infotainment system is a spoilsport. More crucially, for all its efficiency and refinement, the diesel CR-V could do with a few more horses. However, if you can look past the cramped third row and the moderate power output, it wouldn’t take long to appreciate how well the CR-V blends luxury, refinement and ease of driving. As an alternative to the Skoda Kodiaq or even ladder-frame SUVs like the Fortuner and the Endeavour, it is an intriguing proposition, one that ticks a lot of right boxes.

 

Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi

Click here for our review of the new Honda Jazz

Click here for our comparison test between the Honda City and the Toyota Yaris

 

Specification

CAR NAME Honda CR-V
Variant 4WD Diesel Auto
ENGINE  
Fuel Diesel
Installation Front, transverse
Displacement 1597cc
Bore/stroke 76mm/88mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl
Power 118bhp at 4000rpm
Torque

300Nm at 2000rpm

Power to weight 67.81bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 172.4Nm per tonne
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
CHASSIS & BODY  
Kerb weight 1740kg
Tyres (F/R) 235/60 R18
Spare Full Size
STEERING  
Type Rack and pinion
Type of assist Electric
Turning circle 11.5m
BRAKES  
Front Ventilated Discs
Rear Discs
Anti-lock Yes

Test Data

CAR NAME Honda CR-V
Variant 4WD Diesel Auto
PERFORMANCE & BRAKING  
0-20kph 0.90s
0-40kph 2.48s
0-60kph 4.73s
0-80kph 7.63s
0-100kph 11.62s
0-120kph 17.41s
   
20-80kph in 3rd gear 7.03s
40-100kph in 5th gear 9.24s
   
80-0kph 2.79s / 24.48m
FUEL ECONOMY  
City 12.33 kmpl
Highway 17.86 kmpl
Tank size 57-litres
Range 657km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS  
Front  
Legroom(Max/min) 870/640mm
Headroom(Max/min) 960/890mm
Shoulder room 1270mm
Backrest height 640mm
Rear   
Legroom(Max/min) 970/740mm
Ideal legroom 750mm
Headroom 870mm
Shoulder room 1190mm
Seat base length 500m
Backrest height 570mm
Boot  
Length/width/height 830/1040/730mm
Loading lip height 620mm
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Honda CR-V Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Mumbai₹ 33.44 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 35.19 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 32.38 Lakhs onwards
Hyderabad₹ 33.57 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 33.79 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 31.61 Lakhs onwards
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