/ 30 March 2024

Honda’s CR-V veers into premium segment

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Big tag: The new Honda CR-V 1.5 CVT is attractive and comfortable but it could offer more oomph for the price.

Since the late 1990s, the Honda CR-V has become ever more common in shopping malls and school parking lots. 

It’s a small SUV that has, over the years, proved to be practical, reasonably priced and dependable. 

However, the new generation of CR-V has aimed to raise the bar, resulting in a R1 million vehicle. There is a level of expectation that comes with a price tag of this size and, well, I think it’s nearly — but not quite — there.

The most noticeable change to the CR-V is the increase in size and, while it has seven seats, it is a good-looking SUV. 

Although the addition of a detachable shelf helps optimise the boot space, the presence of a third row of rear seats reduces the cargo area.

As for seating space, a regular trump card for the CR-V, the middle row has a good amount of legroom and is a comfortable place to sit for long trips. 

But the real highlight is the cabin experience, with its high-tech atmosphere that reflects a more premium experience. The CR-V boasts a 9-inch infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is straightforward to use, overall. 

The digital instrument cluster is easy to interpret and provides a simple yet pleasant aesthetic when reading your speed, revs and getting other driving information. 

There are less-than-premium plastics scattered around the cabin, which is off-putting, and the overall ambiance is dark — but this might appeal to some buyers.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to the driving characteristics of a family SUV, one of the more essential being the power figures and whether it can handle a full load and possibly a trailer. 

Unfortunately, the CR-V could do with a little more shove, especially considering the price. 

It comes with a 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 140kW and 240Nm of torque.It’s bolted to a CVT transmission, and this is where the question marks start to appear. 

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For one, the CR-V isn’t compact by any means. If you are alone or have only a couple of passengers, the power is adequate, but it needs revs to harness maximum output. Luckily, this is not too big an ask since this CVT is quite rev-happy. 

Its tendency to be noisy under acceleration — and not in the pops and bangs kind of way that we tend to  enjoy — is definitely a drawback. 

It takes a while to get going once you bury the accelerator and we’re confident that a hybrid-electric variation would address these issues with a bit more torque. The hybrid CR-V is out there but, unfortunately, it’s not available in SA just yet. 

The CR-V offers a claimed consumption of 7.4l/100km, which isn’t bad considering its size, but at Gauteng altitude, it does creep into the 8.0 l/100km range.

Good ride quality and ground clearance are also important in an SUV. I’m pleased to report the CR-V is a compliant bump absorber and it’s especially evident on rougher surfaces. With ample clearance for speed bumps and potholes, it provides a calm, comfortable driving experience.

Honda’s CR-V is a good car and one I’d easily recommend — if it weren’t for the price. 

The CR-V comes in two model grades in South Africa, starting with the Executive at R959 900. The model we drove is the top-spec Exclusive and comes in at R1 039 900. This places the CR-V up against cars such as the Kia Sorento, which is a well-rounded product with more torque and better fuel consumption.

All things considered, it’s a good representation of Honda’s potential within the more premium segment. As much as this CR-V is largely an improvement over the previous model, a bigger, more powerful motor would do the price some justice. 

CR-V has a beautiful design, particularly from the front, and a cabin that contributes to a more premium experience. It is spacious, with plenty of entertainment and safety systems. 

A larger motor, or even a hybrid-electric model, would be a more tempting offer, but the price at the moment is a little on the steep side, even for the modern market. 

At least your kids will be lugged around in something that looks trendy enough to be bragged about at school.