Why the Honda CR-V should be your next family car

Here’s what the experts at some of Australia’s most important motoring outlets think of the Honda CR-V range. 

The Honda CR-V is actually the fifth generation of family-focused SUV to wear the badge that has so far racked up more than nine million sales worldwide. So we have a lot of expertise to call on when it comes to creating one of the most comfortable, spacious, innovative, practical, and safe cars in its class and one that offers outstanding value for money. A sentiment that was echoed by some of Australia’s best motoring writers when they took the CR-V for a spin.

The experts:

Ernest Litera, Senior product tester, RACV
Mike Costello, Senior Editor, CarAdvice
Tom Baker, Editor, Chasing Cars

STYLING

Being sensible doesn’t mean giving up being stylish and if any car proves that it’s the Honda CR-V. With its muscular metal, powerful stance and bold details, the Honda CR-V is designed to stand out; in the city, on the open road and at the shopping mall.

As Mike Costello of CarAdvice.com.au puts it, “Looks are subjective, but the new CR-V is in this writer's opinion the best-looking (non-NSX) Honda in some time. The wheelbase is longer, reducing overhangs. The rear wheel arches are flared, the windows are raked (yet still big), the bonnet is stylised and the vertical tail-lights are even pretty spunky. It has presence, a squat stance and good proportions.”

INTERIOR

The well thought out appearance of the Honda CR-V extends to the interior as noted by Ernest Litera of RACV who notes that, “There is a sharp dynamic look to the all-new Honda CR-V body architecture, a sense of nicely proportioned style that thankfully also carries through to the smart interior presentation. It’s a good place to start an evaluation of this Honda, because the development work has focused on the user-friendly cabin features as much as the refreshingly stylish presentation.”

Litera adds, “Up front the new CR-V is a model of smart design and clean presentation, complemented by good seat comfort and support. There is an upmarket feel in the choice of trim materials and soft-touch coverings on most surfaces, including a tactile steering wheel with audio and cruise controls.”

Of course a family SUV isn’t all about the two people up front which is why Honda’s engineers and designers put huge work into making sure all the occupants were catered for in terms of comfort and practicality. Costello said, “The five-seat CR-Vs offer perhaps the best back seats in the class, in terms of headroom, legroom, foot space, storage, amenities, ease of ISOFIX/tether access, entry/egress through the door aperture and outward visibility. The seats also recline.” The back seat occupants also get their own USB ports and air vents.

SAFETY

All  Honda CR-Vs  are packed with safety features. They benefit from six airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and  trailer stability assist. The top spec VTi-LX also gains the innovative Honda Sensing suite of safety systems which work in unison to reduce driver workload and increase occupant safety with active cruise control (ACC) that even works in bumper-to-bumper traffic, subtle assistance to keep the car in its lane on the highway and warnings of a potential collision, as well as systems that will take over to bring the car safely to a stop in an emergency. Regardless of model, the Honda CR-V range receives a full Five-Star rating from Australian safety testers ANCAP.

TECHNOLOGY

We expect a lot from our cars today and the Honda CR-V certainly has you covered thanks to Honda’s long history of innovation and value for money. This extends to the suite of technology you can find in the cabin. Some of the smarter touches include the very handy walk-away lock feature which secures the car should you forget and on VTi-L models and up an adjustable power tailgate which can be programmed to stop at different heights for low garages. Unique to the Honda CR-V among its competitors are both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. This means that whichever smartphone you favour, it quickly and easily connects to the car so that many of your apps – including Spotify – can be controlled safely through the central touchscreen or hands-free via voice control. To be able to enjoy your tunes to the full, the Honda CR-V features Active Noise Control. Like a pair of noise cancelling headphones this helps reduce sounds from outside making the cabin even more serene and relaxing.

As Litera explains, “One of the best attributes of this CR-V line-up is the high level of presentation and build quality across the range. Good design features and smart presentation are found in all variants. Pricing kicks off at $30,690 plus on-road costs for the VTi model, which includes dual-zone climate control, an eight-speaker audio system with Apple Car Play and Android Auto, 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and active noise control.”

PERFORMANCE

The Honda CR-V range, from VTi-S and above, is powered by our latest turbocharged 1.5-litre engine which incorporates both Honda’s famous VTEC engine and our Earth Dreams technology for more performance with fewer emissions. You can read more about why we are making some of our engines smaller here. The engine is matched to a CVT gearbox which similarly works to maximise both performance and economy, a combination which Tom Baker at Chasing Cars had this to say about, “Immediately, it’s clear that the new CR-V is a more refined performer than the old model; progress around town is slick and quiet, with peak torque arriving at just 2,000rpm. The CVT automatic is one of the best of its kind." CVT gearboxes are unique in the way they work as they have no fixed ‘gear ratios’ but are infinitely adjustable so that the engine can operate at its most efficient – and most powerful – whether driving around town or out on the highway.

PRACTICALITY

From front to back the interior of the Honda CR-V, including the boot, has been carefully considered to help you and your family make the most of it. Baker was impressed with the CR-V’s clever storage solutions, saying, “The highlight is the centre console storage up front. There are three levels of storage under the driver’s armrest. A shallow setting is a phone tray, while the deepest setting will allow you to slide a laptop or handbag in. There’s also a phone tray behind the high-set gear shifter, a good-size damped glovebox, two medium-size cupholders, and very large door bins.” Anyone travelling in the back of the seven-seat VTi-L are also well catered for as well. In the opinion of Baker, “Access is particularly good… because the kerbside back seat tumbles forward and right out of the way, revealing a hard-plastic step and a sizeable gap through which to step into the third row seat. It’s been well thought-out… But you can imagine the convenience if you’ve got two kids, with each wanting to bring a friend. The presence of that third row makes that possible. Impressively, there are roof-mounted air vents for the sixth and seventh passengers.”

It’s reassuring to know that all of that passenger space hasn’t come at the expense of the other things you need to cart around.As Costello states, “Cargo space has dropped a smidgen but remains above the class average at 522L behind the second-row. The middle seatsalso fold flat, and can be made to do so via levers in the cargo area,liberating a 1.85m long flat space. This, plus the programmable electric tailgate, makes loading pretty simple.”

DRIVER APPEAL

The chassis of the Honda CR-V is also entirely new, a fact pointed out by Costello. “The chassis is a new design, with Honda citing a need to bring more agile and confidence-inspiring handling to the picture, while retaining plushness in the ride. The balancing act has been done quite deftly.” Costello added, “Over a mixture of urban and regional winding country roads, plus the odd gravel trail, the CR-V feels generally well-sorted. There's some controlled body roll through corners, but the positive trade-off is a generally excellent level of ride compliance, and good isolation from sharp hits.” There were also good things to be said by Costello about the All-Wheel Drive system on offer in the CR-V, “The AWD system is quite clever. Uncommonly, the car can take of from the line in all-paw mode to maximise initial traction. It's only at speed in nice conditions where the car reverts to FWD. The sensors on board re-send torque rearward (up to 40 per cent total) when slip up front is detected.”

VALUE

Offering exceptional value for money in addition to all its other attributes has always been a Honda CR-V strength as Baker points out by highlighting his favourite model. "There are no options on the Honda, apart from the roof accessory packs. All paint colours are included, including the new hero colours of Passion Red and Midnight Forest. Despite the great value of the VTi-S, our pick of the range is the $38,990 VTi-L. If you’re going to buy a high riding SUV, you might as well get a practicality advantage over a better-driving station wagon. The VTi-L’s unique seven seat feature adds that extra practicality.”

Whichever CR-V catches your eye however, peace of mind comes as standard\ when it comes to bills with Costello saying this, “From an ownership perspective, the CR-V gets Honda's  five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and capped-price servicing at 12-month/10,000km intervals. You'll pay a below-average $1475 over the first 50,000km or five years at current prices, whichever comes first.”

OVERALL

Hopefully this has given you a taste of what a fantastic family all-rounder the new Honda CR-V is and here are our three experts to wrap things up.

 “Honda has revitalised its popular mid-size SUV, adding thoughtful design features to its generous space and practicality. Traditionally high build quality is now enhanced by CR-V’s sharp presentation and improved driving dynamics, which overall place it in class leadership contention.” Ernest Litera, RACV.

“The new 2018 Honda CR-V is as practical as ever, but adds more polished dynamics, design panache and thoughtful specification levels. It should be on your shortlist if you're after a mainstream compact SUV.” Mike Costello, CarAdvice.com.au.

“Like HR-V and Civic, the 2018 Honda CR-V has been entirely rethought, based around a new turbocharged engine, a more refined interior, and a strong value for money pitch.” Tom Baker, Chasing Cars

Want to read more? See what else the experts had to say about the Honda CR-V range by reading the reviews in full.

RACV

CarAdvice

Chasing Cars