New, Improved CR-V

Friday, September 15, 2017

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WHEN an automotive manufacturer introduces a new generation of its best-selling product, they can either play it safe, making minimal changes to an already successful formula, or start new from the ground up.

In the case of the Honda CR-V, the manufacturers chose the latter, to much success.

For starters, the sheet metal is completely fresh. Gone is the boxy-look, replaced by a sleeker profile — despite growing 1.4 inches in all directions that hints a bit of a sports coupe. The athleticism continues as the wheel arches now have a slight bulge to them and blends in with a new deep shoulder line that runs the complete length of the vehicle. The new, slim, LED headlights flank either side of the pronounced grill, featuring the new corporate face of all Hondas. Add in the combination black and polished 18-inch wheels and its visual appeal is very high, some would dare say premium.

It's easy to get into the CR-V as its Smart Entry feature opens and closes the doors within eight feet of the key without having to remove it from one's pocket, making it great for that mad rush to beat the rain. The rear gets in on the automated action as there's now an electronically operated tailgate with customisable height adjustment.

Once in, occupants are taken away in the most significant change to the CR-V — its interior. The standard leather package on the RVSi only elevates the quality feel, from the faux wood inserts, typical Honda piano black overlays, to the liberal use of soft-touch materials. Equipped with the full-length panoramic sunroof the inside, the CR-V gets an extra feeling of openness night or day, even in the rear with its 2 inches of leg room over the outing CR-V.

The overall design is understated, as only the key buttons you need to interact with are present. The rest are reserved to the infotainment system driven by the large, seven-inch touchscreen and the smaller TFT display that is the instrument panel. Connectivity is supreme in the CR-V. USB ports can be found for front and rear passengers. There is an HDMI input should one want to watch more than the lane assist and parking camera feed on the larger screen. One neat trick is the ability to turn your CR-V into a Wi-Fi hot spot.

Where the CR-V begins to shine is on the road. It takes guts to name your vehicle Comfortable Recreational Vehicle, but Honda got the brief right. Some may scoff at the thought of 1.5 litres powering such a large vehicle, but since the brand has embraced turbocharging, they've thrown their skill under the bonnet. Firing up the CR-V brings the engine to life in near invisibility to the occupants. The engine never gets rowdy enough to be annoying, offering only a slight growl under acceleration. Cabin refinement is high, allowing the great stereo system to shine.

Since refinement is kept in check, on the road, with 58 lbs less to handle than the old model, it cracks the 0-60 in under eight seconds, making good use of its new-found 190bhp and peak torque of 179lb/ft available from 2,000 rpm to 5,000 pm. The CR-V is just as comfortable milling around town in ECO mode through traffic as it is dealing with the higher speeds of highway driving, neither of which has any major effects on passengers — with conveniences such as dual climate control and rear vents.

SPORT mode puts the transmission in a more willing mood to handle twisty roads, which brings to life the chunky, leather-wrapped steering wheel in the driver's hand. Put through such paces, the chassis is rarely disrupted as the suspension soaks up whatever is thrown at it. On- or off-road, the all-wheel drive gives a sense of confidence since traction is more than sufficient for what the average sport utility vehicle buyer could ask of it, as few will ever need its 8.2 inches of ground clearance.

The 2018 Honda CR-V heads into its fifth generation so far ahead of its predecessor that, if it were not for the name, one could almost take it for a completely different model.




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