Auto review: The best of all worlds
6th gen Honda CR-V combines many updates to keep it a car for everyone
published : 10 Apr 2023 at 07:36
newspaper section: Life
writer: Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Honda CR-V, first introduced during the 1990s as the "Comfortable Runabout Vehicle", has grown into one of the most popular models for the Japanese automaker with global sales of over 13 million units.
Now reaching the sixth generation, the 2023 CR-V is available with a choice of two powertrain types, two- and all-wheel-drive as well as five- and seven-seat options.
Thailand is the second country in the world after the US where the new CR-V has launched, reflecting the strong market position of this Japanese SUV in the Kingdom.
It's also the first time that Honda is offering a hybrid variant of the CR-V in Thailand (the other is the 1.5 Turbo), which gets the RS trim for the first time as well.
Retail pricing ranges from 1,419,000 baht for the baseline 1.5 Turbo E variant to 1,729,000 baht for the top e:HEV RS 4WD variant driven in this review.
According to Honda, the new CR-V has been designed as an all-rounder, offering the comfort and practicality of saloons with SUV performance as well as the versatility of MPVs.
Inspired by the rugged design of models such as the Ridgeline and Passport, the new CR-V is longer and wider than its predecessor, with the body length highlighted by a strong horizontal beltline located right under the window frame.
Honda says that the windscreen pillars have been radically repositioned to offer a sporty proportion as well as improved visibility.
The RS variant features sporty gloss black exterior components such as the front grille, mirror caps, shark fin antenna and part of the rear spoiler. The RS also gets 19in black alloy wheels with 235/55 Michelin Latitude Sport 3 tyres (other variants get 18in wheels).
The top four variants also get a panoramic sunroof that lights up the interior, creating a sense of spaciousness.
The interior design is pretty understated except for the honeycomb styling across the console similar to the Civic. Other similarities include the 10.2-inch TFT display, 9-inch centre touchscreen, multi-function steering wheel, rotary controls for the climate control system and power window switches.
The seat upholstery consists of a mix of synthetic and real leather (with red stitching for the RS). Both front seats are powered -- the driver gets lumbar adjustment as well as four-way adjustable steering.
There is decent headroom for both front and rear occupants. The rear seats can be easily slid forward and folded to increase luggage space (the 7-seat option is available only with the 1.5 Turbo).
Honda did not provide the luggage space of the Thai CR-V, but according to US version specs, it stores 1,027 litres with the seats up and 2,166 litres with the seats folded. The rear tailgate is powered and features a hands-free opening and walk-away closing.
There's wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with four USB ports plus Honda Connect. The top variant also comes with a head-up display on the front windscreen as well as Bose audio system with 12 loudspeakers.
There are several convenient storage areas laid out in the cabin -- the storage bin between the front seats does hold up to 9 litres.
Rear passengers get air vents, two USB-C ports and a centre armrest. The rear seat backrests can be inclined and split folded, and tall objects can be loaded by folding the front seat backrest.
The CR-V has already won a 5-star crash test rating from the NHTSA, and there's a long list of safety features ranging from the Honda SENSING intelligent safety to adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow that works from 30-180kph.
Auto high beam is standard across the range, but the RS AWD also gets adaptive high beam plus active cornering lights. There's also Honda LaneWatch, 360-degree camera and driver attention monitor, along with eight airbags.
The hybrid powertrain in the new CR-V consists of an improved 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle engine mated to two electric motors (generator motor and drive motor) to produce a combined 207hp and 335Nm of torque.
Mated to an E-CVT, the hybrid power unit propels the CR-V e:HEV AWD from 0-100kph in 9.4secs (9secs for the 2WD) and to a top speed of 181kph (188kph).
According to the official Eco Sticker, the average fuel economy is 19.2kpl (20.8kpl for the 2WD) with 124g/km of CO2 (113g/km).
While the driver is able to select econ, normal or sport drive modes, the selection between electric, hybrid or engine drive is carried out automatically (there's no EV button). During low-speed driving, the EV mode is engaged often, allowing occupants to enjoy noise-free motoring.
Once the small 1.1kWh lithium battery weakens the engine fires up and the vehicle gets into hybrid mode (or engine mode when accelerating or cruising at high speeds).
Meanwhile, for those who aren't into hybrids, the 1.5 Turbo (which saves about 60kg compared to the hybrid and has an average fuel economy of 14.2kpl) does offer decent performance.
There's up to 190hp and 240Nm from the turbocharged DOHC VTEC engine mated to a CVT, and although acceleration is a tad slower at 9.8 to 10.6secs for the 2WD and AWD respectively, it's capable of reaching a top speed of 200kph.
There's a Real-Time AWD system with E-DPS that's capable of sending up to 50% of engine torque to the rear wheels, the CR-V also gets a Hill Descent Control system for the first time. While it may not be a candidate for off-road conditions, the CR-V should be able to tackle light off-roading or dirt roads without a problem.
Meanwhile, driving the new CR-V along the scenic winding roads in Chiang Mai was a pleasurable experience. The steering has a nice weight to it, although it lacks some sharpness as you enter a bend at high speed.
The front strut and rear multi-link suspension have been nicely tuned to offer good comfort, while stabilisers both front and rear help keep the CR-V balanced during cornering.
There's decent stopping power that comes from disc brakes all-round, although the pedal feel is pretty dull, (there's also a B mode with deceleration paddle selectors).
While the suspension soaks up vibrations effectively, road noise has also been taken care of effectively too, thanks to improved underbody sound insulation.
Honda has done what's necessary to ensure that the sixth-generation Honda CR-V will maintain its popularity in the compact SUV market.
Pros: Good looks, comprehensive packaging, smooth drive
Cons: No EV button, dull brakes