There’s no point beating around the bush here… we like the Honda CR-V. The 2.2 diesel was particularly impressive with its useful torque and effortless performance. Its smaller sibling – the Civic has featured the impressive all new 1.6 diesel at 120Ps for a little while now and the revised 2015 CR-V now boasts this cracking unit too. Uprated to 160 PS thanks to an all new twin stage turbo, the CR-V now boasts not only superb power to weight and torque figures that better the outgoing larger engine, but impressive environmental criteria too.
For those who like “two pedal” motoring, the nine YES that’s right… nine speed automatic transmission is also all new for the CR-V. Manual versions continue with a smooth changing six speed gearbox but I opted to sample this all new automatic during a family holiday to Norfolk. I wanted to dislike the package (I still remain unconvinced of auto’s on anything other than large cars) but came back suitably impressed – it performs really well and its super smooth!
Other changes for the car include new bumpers front and rear, a similar uprated and easier to use “infotainment” system as you find in the top line Civic and subtle changes to the vehicles suspension package and settings. Honda tell us they have redesigned the suspension bushes, changed the dampers, altered the geometry of the front bottom suspension arms and widened the track by a smidge. Usually these subtle kinds of alterations go un-noticed but I can honestly say that the CR-V is nimble and capable through your fingertips. The ride is improved at speed (not that it was ever regarded as being poor to start with) and the steering has some welcome feedback – the latter was a minor let down on the old model, it even corners quite flatly too almost belying the cars high roofline and stature.
The aforementioned chassis alterations allied to the new driveline being over 60Kg lighter have banished any of the old 2.2D feeling of being slightly nose heavy, it really does ride and handle quite well for such a lofty car. As before, interior refinement remains very impressive unless you really spin the rev counter needle into oblivion. At speed on the motorway or plodding through heavy traffic, the CR-V is blissfully refined and smooth as it goes about its business – everything and more that you expect from a Honda in fairness. Flick the lever into sport mode and use the paddle gear change finds you able to really hustle and shuffle the car in a satisfying fun kind of way. The engineers have done a belting job with the CR-V in terms of driveline and suspension – its good fun!
In terms of performance, the 1.6 160Ps diesel does really well. There’s an initial lack of oomph when you stamp on the throttle from a standing start but once underway it picks up velocity swiftly and quietly with almost unperceptive gearchanges. On the subject of gearchanges, the nine speed auto even block changes under light throttle changing from say 3rd to 5th or 5th to 7th when ultimate speed and acceleration is not a priority. Nor does it hunt around for the right gear which is noticeable and annoying of current Jaguar or Land Rover models with their own nine speed transmission. As far as driveline packaging is concerned, the 1.6i-DTEC in my opinion is one of the most mechanically sorted cars I have driven in recent years.
No major issues with the interior were found. No squeaks or rattles and everything just works with Anglo Japanese efficiency. The huge comfy leather clad chairs remain and despite them looking a little flat in the cushion, they are super snug, support in all the key areas and hold you upright if you push on hard in the bends. One thing was noticed in the cost cutting department – the neat folding lid on the floor mounted cup / clutter holder has been deleted – this was ideal for hiding your phone from view if you popped out of the car for a few moments. I also spotted a poor fitting windscreen demisting vent on the dashboard top but I have an inkling this may have resulted from a cack handed mechanics screwdriver.
As experienced before, the brakes are simply spot on and its great to see that despite Honda’s technological approach to engineering being of legend, a traditional lever type handbrake remains fitted. The overall package of good user friendly ergonomics, impressive quality and well specified interior have not been touched. In fact, they have been boosted by the addition of a rather decent infotainment system that no longer requires a GSE in astro-physics to comprehend. The all new “Honda Connect” system emulates a tablet to some degree and works on an Android operating programme. Just like a smartphone it works on what Honda quote as being “pinch, swipe and tap” – have we lost you here? well don’t worry, its easy to operate, works amazingly well, has a decent sound quality and also features a superb satnav.
There are some other decent items of equipment too including “City-Brake” which is an urban collision avoidance system. By using a radar device in the front of the car, it operates the brakes to a full emergency stop in the event of you running into the back of a stationary vehicle or other solid object. I tried this out under controlled testing at Honda’s Swindon assembly plant and can confirm it works, City-Brake is standard across the whole of the CR-V and Civic range. You should have no issues with other standard equipment in general, this top of the range EX variant is lavishly specified with more bells than an Anglican cathedral and more whistles than your typical majorette jamboree!
Gripes? well there are one or two. The steering wheel still has a rim that’s just a bit too thin where it ought to be chunky and the instruments reflect in the windows at night. The test car had a noticeable “orange peel” effect to the paintwork in certain light conditions and I think a two tone colour scheme to the dashboard would pay dividends in livening up what is in all fairness a slightly gloomy and dark interior. In its favour, the panoramic roof lets a little more light inside the cabin which for the record is roomy, comfortable and very practical – the one touch seat folding is very clever indeed and the power operated tailgate is very snazzy indeed and gained a couple of jealous looks in the supermarket car park.
So in what has turned out to be a busy year for Honda, has the CR-V lost any of its driver friendly touches? None whatsoever… its a well made, refined, economical family bus, workhorse or touring car that just gets on with whatever job you ask of it. Its not cheap but there again, its not a cheap car but if you consider its legendary reliability, the happy to help dealer network and the impressive equipment list allied to agreeable build quality I consider it to be worth every penny. The revised bumpers front and rear make the car look a premium product but work still needs to be done in terms of marketing to shrug off the brands slightly pedestrian image as their current portfolio of vehicles are becoming quite brilliant!
AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING: 8/10
THE HUMBLE OPINION
For those looking for a stylish, practical, well equipped and reliable SUV with a touch more brand credibility than something volume or Korean, the revised CR-V is most certainly worth considering.
Its got a cracking engine, has decent emissions, performs strongly and offers plenty of standard kit to cater for everyone from business users to the family driver. It continues the legendary theme of advancing through technology we have all known to expect of a Honda but it cleverly works a very user friendly package. The electronic 4wd system will get you out of trouble on loose surfaces like sand, grass or dried mud while out on the black top it simply devours the miles with refinement and comfort.
CR-V is bound to be utterly reliable too and their happy gaggle of friendly dealers will be right behind you from the outset. But its not cheap in EX trim though once you look really hard into the full package the economy, performance and ease of operation show why its easy to see this is one of the worlds most popular SUV models.
Not the most exiting car but after spending a little time in the saddle I was sad to see it go, I really bonded with the CR-V. Its a good package of common sense, style and quality… pretty much all you need in a car I’d say.
Should you buy and if not why? – Ask me another silly question!
Model Tested: Honda CR-V 1.6i-DTEC EX Automatic 4wd
Produced by: Honda UK Manufacturing Swindon
Price: £34,120 (£34,670 as tested)
Engine: 1.6 16v turbo diesel (160Ps with 360Nm torque)
Transmission: 9 speed auto with manual over-ride and electronic four wheel drive
Co2 / VED: 139g/Km – Band E
Fuel Economy: 55.3mpg (46.5mpg on test)
THE HIGHS: Strong performance – Great engine – Good fuel economy and emission criteria – Smooth transmission – Refined – Well equipped – Strong build quality – Idiot proof user friendliness – Keen road manners – Has a genuine premium feel.
THE LOWS: Initial high purchase cost in top flight trim level – Brand image lacks rivals credibility – Slightly dour interior colour – Thin rimmed and cheap feeling steering wheel.
For further information on the Honda CR-V range CLICK HERE