The current generation Honda CRV has been in the market for a good 4 years, and has done surprisingly well considering two things: it’s a Honda and it’s a mid-size, pretty expensive SUV. Considering the market, the CRV has to offer something that the cheaper, more value for money alternatives in the reconditioned market cannot. That happens to be premium quality and a bolstered level of kit.
It’s classified as a mid-size SUV going up against the likes of Nissan‘s X-trail and Mitsubishi’s Outlander, but in terms of interior space it can rival the larger Toyota Prado, albeit lacking a third row of seating. On the outside, the CRV’s rounded edges and sloping front and cleverly integrated rear end elements make this mid-size SUV appear much smaller than it is. By contrast, the X-trail and the Outlander seem like hulking brutes. Honda’s design philosophy might be a bit polarizing at times, buy most will agree that the CRV is a proper looker.
The interior is plush with soft touch surfaces and neatly colour coded materials. Everything is functional and ergonomic, the ease of access is commendable. The 7 inch touch screen infotainment system is similar to the Accord, while the instrumentation lists every bit of information you’d need on the fly. At the rear, a set of air-conditioning vents makes life easier in sweltering traffic and hints at the fact that this is the kind of vehicle you’d be driven around in, and not necessarily drive yourself.
If you ever do feel like driving though, as with almost any Honda in the market today, you’re well covered. Honda has never been on to compromise over quality, and even in their SUVs, you’ll find some semblance of driving pleasure that elevates the experience of owning a car. The CRV, with its 2.4 litre 4 cylinder motor putting put 155 horsepower and 140 lb-ft of torque, doesn’t really have the numbers to back up what is an inherently heavy car, but the way it delivers that torque is great. The i-VTEC valve tech manning the cams not only help with the fuel efficiency, it also sharpens up the throttle when you properly step on it. Variable valve timing trickery was perfected early on by Honda in the late 80’s, and with time they have only mastered it – it shows in the economy engines as well, with low output, low displacement motors appearing to have more grunt than advertised on the brochures. The 5 speed automatic has precise shifts and the 4WD system helps with the traction without much fuss.
So it isn’t particularly sporty even if it wants to appear so, but what of the other segment in the SUV moniker – utility? It has a huge boot, the rear seats fold flat in case you want to stuff several tents, kayaks, bicycles or whatever meaningless thing signifies an active lifestyle and there are several cubby holes and cupholders scattered around the interior. So the but utility box gets a tick as well.
Is there anything the CRV can’t do? Well, yes. Despite its attempts at appearing hip and sexy, the CRV is a bit bland considering the immaculate style that its rivals come with. As garishly gnarly and distasteful the recon market Toyota Harrier might be, the SUV buying crowd will undoubtedly be pulled towards it despite it being smaller, less powerful and slightly more expensive. Because the Harrier looks distinctive and edgy, with it’s hawk inspired taillights and wings everywhere and bulging wheel arches. The CRV, with its refined and composed exterior, just can’t compete.
In the end, the CRV is a very sensible, very refined choice of a mid-size SUV and the fact that you see so many of them around is testament to its quality.