At the time of writing this review, the mid-size SUV market presents buyers with no fewer than 15 choices to choose from. That is a lot and that is the reason why this segment is currently the most competitive and fastest growing passenger car segment in Australia.
If you are here, chances are you are looking to buy one. But you are spoilt with options and you want to make the right purchase. Mazda CX-5 or Kia Sportage? Toyota RAV4 or Hyundai Tucson? Some have premium interiors but lack passenger space, some are sporty to drive but compromised in ride comfort. The biggest problem buying in this segment is finding the right car for you and your family.
There is, however, one model which we think makes the most practical, most all-rounded family SUV – the fifth-generation Honda CR-V. Why? Read on.
Not the prettiest but still looks the part
While the Mazda CX-5 takes the crown for the segment’s prettiest (arguably), the Honda CR-V is not far off. The proportions are good, the front fascia is bold, the sculpted surfaces look muscly and the lines and creases are all in the right places. Even in entry-level VTi guise, the CR-V still looks far from poverty-pack, unlike many rivals in its class.
All models get LED daytime running lights as standard and VTI-S and up roll on stylish 18-inch alloy wheels. VTi is equipped with smaller but just as eye-catching 17-inch alloy wheels.
Segment’s smartest and most practical interior
The CR-V’s interior is quite possibly its biggest selling point. No, we are not talking about style or how good the trim surfaces feel as you run your finger over them (again the CX-5 is the benchmark here). We are referring to the Honda’s family-friendly cabin design, space and practicality. For the driver, the CR-V’s all round visibility is excellent, making maneuvering tight car park spaces much easier than its size would suggest. Of course, there’s the plethora of parking assistant such as reverse view camera and parking sensors to make life easy at the malls, but nothing beats unobstructed forward view through that vast windscreen with relatively thin A pillars and a pair of large door mirrors to take care of the rear view.
The other occupants would appreciate the ridiculously roomy passenger space. Legroom at the back is one of the best in class, so is the amount of useful storage compartment around the cabin. Our favorite is the center storage under the center armrest, which is large enough for a handbag or two bottles of milk. There are not two or three USB charging ports but four, enough to keep the most digitally connected of families happy for long trips.
Getting in and out of the rear seats of the CR-V has never been easier thanks to rear doors that open at almost 90-degree angle. With 522 litres of rear cargo space (472 litres for 7-seat VTi-L variant), the CR-V’s boot isn’t the largest (that trophy goes to the Holden Equinox) but is certainly at the pointy end of the segment.
Smooth and efficient powertrain
Yes it’s only a 1.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine with no diesel option in sight but the turbocharged mill produces a healthy 140kW when revved out to 5,500rpm and 240Nm of torque spread out from 2,000rpm to 5,000rpm. Even with a full load, it gets up to 60km/h before you know it, which is the quickest you are allowed to go in our speed camera-infested suburban roads.
And yes it’s a CVT automatic which a lot of you punters will dismiss immediately, which is fine if this was a BMW M2, but this is a family SUV and the gearbox in it should work quietly in the background without bringing attention to itself. And that’s exactly how the CVT in the CR-V behaves.
The CVT also brings superb fuel economy, recording an average of 8.0L/100km in over 400km of real world driving against Honda’s claimed 7.3L/100km.
Fine ride and handling balance
The CR-V delivers a relaxing drive thanks to a well tuned suspension that soaks up road imperfections with aplomb. Larger bumps can be taken comfortably without the need to slow down to crawling pace and the whole time you’re left with the feeling of absolute control. Quick maneuvers will result in mild body roll to remind drivers they’re directing 1,630kg of SUV around (AWD variant), though things will still remain confidently neat and tidy through the corners.
All-wheel drive equipped models, such as the VTi-LX pictured here, further impress with good traction in all weather conditions and on slippery off road terrains. While CR-V’s part-time AWD is not as sophisticated as the Subaru Forester’s full-time system, it is more than up to the task for the odd adventure excursion.
Dependability and reliability that you can count on
Well, it’s a Honda after all, a brand synonymous with years and years of trouble-free car ownership. Despite being Thailand-made, the CR-V’s fit and finish is one of the best we have seen in the segment, a testament to Honda’s equally stringent quality control in its manufacturing facilities outside of Japan.
However, those who want all the bells and whistles in safety do miss out in the lesser variants as only the range-topping VTi-LX AWD scores the latest active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.
Design and Comfort: 8.5/10
Performance and Handling: 7/10
Equipment and Features: 8/10
Honda has put together a very compelling package with the fifth generation CR-V. If you are looking for a spacious, comfortable and efficient mid-size family SUV, the CR-V will fit the bill nicely. It is, without doubt, the sensible choice for sensible people.
2018 Honda CR-V Pricing and Specification
|Price (Excl. on-road costs):||From: $30,690|
VTi 2WD: $30,690
VTi-S 2WD: $33,290
VTi-S AWD: $35,490
VTi-L 2WD: $38,990
VTi-LX AWD: $44,290
As tested: $44,290 (VTi-LX)
|Warranty:||5 years/unlimited kilometers|
|Country of Origin:||Japan; Manufactured in Thailand|
|Service Intervals:||12 months/10,000 kilometers|
|Engine:||1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol:|
140kW @ 5,600rpm, 240Nm @ 2,000rpm – 5,000rpm
|Drivetrain:||Front / All-wheel drive|
|Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg):||85.9 (AWD variants)|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||Claimed: 7.3 / Tested: 8.0|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||57|
|Body:||5-door SUV, 5/7 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 Airbags, Reverse Camera, Side Vision Camera, Trailer Sway Control, Driver Attention Detection, Tyre Pressure Sensor, Emergency Stop Signal, ABS, BA, TCS, EBD, HSA|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4596/1855/1679/2660|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,630|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,500kg / Unbraked: 600kg|
|Entertainment:||7-inch colour touchscreen, 8-speakers, Bluetooth/USB/HDMI, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite navigation (VTi-S and up), DAB+ (VTi-LX)|
Ford Kuga, Holden Equinox, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Peugeot 3008, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Nissan X-Trail, Renault Koleos, Subaru Forester, Fiat 500X, Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq, Suzuki Vitara, Toyota RAV4, Jeep Cherokee