Honda 4th Generation CR-V: Slightly Smaller but Better

By Lee Pang Seng
ITS launch here might have been delayed by a natural disaster (in Thailand) but the wait is worth the while. The new Honda CR-V is completely redesigned from front to back, giving the fourth-generation Comfortable Runabout Vehicle a fresh new perspective from the old mould, with some Continental influence to the rear styling.

During a press preview in Bangkok, we learnt that the 2.4-litre model would be introduced shortly after the launch of the new CR-V. It will initially come with the 2.0-litre SOHC i-VTEC that delivers slightly more power at 114kW (155bhp) at a higher 6500rpm (previous CR-V 110kW/ 150bhp at 6200rpm) while maximum torque stays at 190Nm at 4300rpm.

The 2.4-litre model will have an engine similar to that in the Accord but in an improved version. It will deliver 139kW (190bhp) at 7000rpm and 217Nm at 4300rpm. Honda Malaysia Managing Director and CEO Yoichiro Ueno says the 2.4 model will account for 20 per cent of CR-V sales.

As in many new Honda models, the latest CR-V comes with ECON Mode that adjusts the engine’s operating characteristics to achieve better fuel consumption when activated. The Eco Assist provided in the instrument panel also serves as a guide on driving style to encourage fuel efficient motoring.

A major change is the electric power steering. The transmission stays constant in the electronically controlled five-speed automatic while the Hill Start Assist maintains brake pressure briefly after the brake pedal is released when going uphill. This gives the driver the breather to accelerate without the vehicle rolling back.

There is also the intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) that provides a slew of information including audio settings and user support data such as fuel consumption, response display, clock, wallpaper, customisation settings, and the reverse camera guidelines on its five-inch TFT display. Controls for the i-MID and audio are located on the steering wheel, along with the cruise function.

Dimensionally, the new CR-V is shorter than the previous model at 4534mm, a reduction of 30mm, and lower in height at 1685mm (including antennae). Wheelbase remains at 2620mm. That doesn’t mean the interior is smaller with clever re-engineering to maximise space and maintain good headroom.

Better interior comfort comes in the rear air conditioner vents (which are long overdue) while the front door pockets are designed to keep things handily reachable. A useful addition is the central console box with sliding cover that serves as an armrest. The flexible interior is improved with the redesigned 60/40 rear seatrests and lower cargo floor for easy loading and unloading. The 60/40 rear seatrests can fold almost flat to the floor with a single pull of the release lever. This near-flat fold design provides a larger storage space than before.

Adding to the CR-V’s comprehensive set of safety features is the Motion Adaptive Electronic Power Steering (MA-EPS) that works with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to minimise understeering and oversteering while enhancing stability during driving. Standard fare includes Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Dual SRS airbags and side airbags with OPDS.

We had a drive impression of both CR-V models during the media preview in Bangkok but the route covered was the highway to Pattaya. This gave us only one aspect of the new CR-V, its cruising comfort and its ability to pick up speed quickly during brief spurts on open stretches.

We started with the 2.0-litre CR-V and found it quiet at cruising speed with the lower road roar and wind noise from the improved insulation and body aerodynamics. There was a constant drone that was low enough to be ignored, which we believe was part of the muted road roar. The important factor was that we could hold a conversation, even at high cruising speeds, without having to raise our voice.

During the occasions that we ran over bumps and dips, the new CR-V’s suspension settings revealed a greater tendency to absorb the harsh impact without passing the jolt onto occupants. There was also greater resistance to wallowing over road dips for a more composed stance at highway speeds.

Its dynamic performance through winding roads was not gauged much other than through sweeping curves at highway speed. The CR-V maintained an even keel here although we couldn’t quite tell if body roll would be better controlled through tighter bends. We would leave that for later impression drives.

There was clearly a more muscular kick with the CR-V 2.4 on initial acceleration, along with a higher level of equipment to keep one informed and comfortable. Though the drive with this model was short, it was sufficient to impress on its more premium quality.

With higher localisation of parts (maintained to Honda Global standards to ensure consistent quality), the new CR-V comes cheaper at RM144,763.50 on the road without insurance. The CR-V 2.4 is expected to be priced at about RM190,000. The warranty is now five years with unlimited mileage, and the service interval is 10,000km, with free labour for every alternate service.

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