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2019 Honda CR-V Vi Review – good value or budget offering?




What is it?

The Honda CR-V Vi is the new entry-level variant into the CR-V line-up, replacing a spot previously occupied by the CR-V VTi and expanding the range to 5 model grades. It’s priced from $28,290 plus on-road costs, under cutting the popular Mazda CX-5 Maxx and Toyota RAV4 GX.

Design wise, it looks identical to the VTi model, despite costing $2400 less. This means you do miss out on the upper grades’ chrome garnish on the lower front bumper and door guards, as well as rear privacy glass (tinted glass). Unlike many rivals’ range-opening variants though, the Vi does come equipped with proper alloy wheels and not steel wheels or nasty plastic wheel covers, even though they are just 17-inch items, an inch smaller than higher spec models.

What are the features?

As expected for a basic model, the feature list is, well, pretty basic, though all the essentials are still there. Standard equipment include the aforementioned 17-inch alloy wheels and a full size spare, reversing camera, LED Daytime Running lights and tail lights, electric parking brake with auto Brake Hold, and Bluetooth and USB connectivity with audio streaming on a 5-inch display.

Those wishing for digital radio and better smart phone integration would have to opt for the upper spec models as the Vi misses out on DAB, Apple Carplay and Android Auto phone mirroring, all of which comes standard in rivals such as the slightly pricier Mazda CX-5 Maxx and Kia Sportage Si.

While the CR-V Vi lacks modern passive safety tech such as blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist (both of which is again standard on the CX-5 Maxx and Sportage Si), safety is, nevertheless taken care of by 6 airbags, tyre pressure monitoring system, hill start assist, cruise control and the assurance of a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

How practical is it?

The CR-V’s interior is perhaps, the mid-size SUV’s biggest selling point. With that we meant Honda’s family-friendly cabin design, space and practicality. And despite its entry-level status, we are glad to find the Vi grade has not been skimmed.

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.

Passengers would appreciate the impressively roomy cabin 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 configurable center storage under the center armrest, which is large enough for a handbag or two bottles of milk.

That said, the Vi is left with just one USB port, down from 4 found in all other variants.

Getting in and out of the rear seats of the CR-V is a breeze for families with little ones thanks to rear doors that open at almost 90-degree angle. With 522 litres of rear cargo space, the CR-V’s boot isn’t the largest but is certainly at the pointy end of the segment.

What’s under the bonnet?

The CR-V Vi is powered by a 113kW/189Nm 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine matched with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as standard instead of the higher variants’ 140kW/240Nm 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC engine.

Can the lesser engine handle the daily grind? The power and torque deficit compare to the turbo four isn’t apparent around town, with the atmospheric 2.0L still delivering brisk and linear response getting off the lights or coming out of intersections.

Out in the open road with a full load though, you’d need to carefully plan your overtaking manoeuvres as it does take some effort to pile on the speeds.

The CVT that’s paired with it is one of the better ones we have sampled, however, with it working quietly in the background without bringing attention to itself. It’s exactly how a CVT should behave in a passenger car.

How does it drive?

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 1.5 tonne of SUV around, though things will still remain confidently neat and tidy through the corners.

The Vi model is only available in front-wheel drive form, which isn’t an issue for most buyers who never take it off-road. But if you do or have the need to do heavy towing, you’d need to be looking at some of the other all-wheel drive variants.

What is the running cost?

Honda now offers a competitive five-year warranty with no cap in mileage. Although unlike some rivals, there is no complimentary roadside assistance during the warranty period.

The entire CR-V range also qualifies for capped price servicing for up to 10 services or 100,000km at an average price of $295 per service plus any consumables.

That said, the CR-V’s servicing interval of every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever occurs first, is more frequent than many rivals (many now have annual 15,000km intervals).

Verdict

Design & Comfort

8.0/10

Performance & Handling

7.0/10

Quality

7.5/10

Economy

7.5/10

Equipment & Features

7.0/10

OUR SCORE

3.8/5

Our Score: 3.8/5

+ Plus

  • Spacious interior
  • Practical
  • Fine ride and handling balance
  • Relatively economical

Minus

  • Lethargic powertrain under load
  • Lack of modern audio connectivity
  • Rivals are better equipped

Overall

The Honda CR-V Vi is a welcome addition to the range and should appeal to those on a budget looking for a practical mid-size SUV. With a price that undercuts nearly all key competitors, the CR-V Vi offers a spacious interior, dependable and reliable powertrain, and low running costs.

However, as a range-opener, the Vi misses out on features such as smartphone integration, lane keen assist and blind spot monitoring, technologies that are becoming increasingly common on many rival brand’s entry level models.

2019 Honda CR-V Vi Pricing and Specification

Price (Excl. on-road costs): From: $28,290
Warranty: 5 years/unlimited kilometers
Country of Origin: Japan; Manufactured in Thailand
Service Intervals: 12 months/10,000 kilometers
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol:113kW @ 6,500rpm, 189Nm @ 4,300rpm
Transmission: CVT automatic
Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive
Power to Weight Ratio (W/kg): 75.1
Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km): Claimed: 7.6 / Tested: 7.9
RON Rating: 91
Fuel Capacity (L): 57
Body: 5-door SUV, 5 seats
Safety: 5-star ANCAP, 6 Airbags, Reverse Camera, 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): 1,504
Towing Capacity (kg): Braked: 1,500kg / Unbraked: 600kg
Entertainment: 5-inch colour touchscreen, 4-speakers, Bluetooth/USB

Competitors:

Ford KugaHolden EquinoxHyundai TucsonKia SportagePeugeot 3008Mazda CX-5Mitsubishi OutlanderNissan X-TrailRenault Koleos, Subaru Forester, Fiat 500X, Volkswagen Tiguan, Skoda Kodiaq, Suzuki VitaraToyota RAV4Jeep Cherokee

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