Honda CR-V 1.6 SX i-Dtec: exemplary all-arounder
Perhaps one of the most highly anticipated cars for 2018 is Honda’s all-new CR-V.
Yes, it was launched late last year, but initial stocks came in slowly, with limited choices.
The year 2018 will be the CR-V’s first full year with adjusted prices post excise tax increase as Honda was first to release an updated pricing.
The increase? A very modest P37,000 for the top-of-the-line diesel SX, and a workable P109,000 for the base-model 2.0 S gasoline variant.
That means you might have to eat out slightly less each month to afford it, or save up another two months or so before plonking on a downpayment.
So what makes the CR-V such a favorite? For starters, it has always been a very complete, well-equipped, and accomplished car.
The new fifth generation CR-V (which stands for comfortable roundabout vehicle) helped spur on a new market segment back in 1997.
Though at times it got heavy, lethargic or simply poorly equipped, Honda has learned from past mistakes and has delivered the best of the best for 2018.
The new CR-V sports Honda’s first diesel engine application for the Philippine market.
The 1.6-liter i-Dtec comes equipped with a 16-valve head, dual overhead camshafts, and a common-rail direct injection turbo diesel engine.
Power output is a modest 120 hp, but torque is more telling: 300 Newton meters of torque is available from a low of 2,000 up almost until redline.
Mated to it is another first in the segment: a smooth-shifting 9-speed dual-clutch transmission that delivers CVT-like smoothness, coupled with punchy, responsive shifting when you’re gunning it or in manual mode, flat out.
There’s a slight catch though regarding the transmission: in a departure from the norm, Honda has elected to utilize push buttons, instead of a traditional gear-lever selector.
This takes some getting used to. But at least the flappy paddles are available on the 3-spoke steering wheel for added fun.
The interior is simply cavernous: it comfortably seats seven people.
Even in the back, with a middle-row adjusted slightly forward, the rear seats have very good legroom even when compared to bigger SUVs.
The downside is a significant loss in cargo space, but the added versatility and adjustability is always welcome.
When not needed, you can simply stow away the third row seats, and adjust the middle-row seats for more space and comfort.
No wonder, with all this space, the CR-V is a favorite of moms who do the school run.
With the rear seats deployed, you get a modest 150 liters. Drop the third row, and cargo space increases to 472 liters. And when you drop the second row seats to make your own love nest, it grows further still to an enormous 967 liters of space.
Safety is also a high consideration for Honda. The CR-V’s body utilizes 56.6 percent high-strength steel in its main structure, making it lighter, yet sturdier, stiffer and stronger in key areas against collision damage.
Six airbags are standard on all except the base 2.0 gasoline S model.
A blind-spot monitoring system, wherein the main LCD screen pops open and displays vehicles on your blind spot, is very handy. So is the lane-departure warning, traction/stability control, and so many more.
The interior is plush: leather seats that adjust eight ways for the driver, four ways for the front passenger, and rear seats that slide forward and back to improve comfort or cargo space and split-fold 60:40 for even more versatility.
A 7-inch infotainment display is standard on the top-of-the-line SX model that has a multitude of functions, such as Hvac display, GPS/SatNav, audio settings and more.
Eight speakers, including four tweeters, for the top of the line SX diesel variant really help deliver powerful yet clear audio.
For keen drivers, Honda hasn’t forgotten about you. Seating position is excellent.
There are loads of adjustment for steering wheel reach and rake, and the instrument cluster now utilizes Honda’s high-tech TFT display, like its NSX sports car and all other modern high-performance and luxury vehicles.
Suffice to say, it feels very high-tech, well-polished and high-quality.
The interior materials are some of the very best in this segment, matched only perhaps by Mazda’s CX-5 (equally new).
All others simply pale in comparison.
On the open road, the CR-V drives beautifully. There’s a sense of stability, refinement and confidence on the highway. You can easily cover 5-6 hours of driving effortlessly.
In city driving, the suspension simply swallows up all road imperfections, even when shod with large 18 x 7.5-inch alloy wheels and 235/60R18 high-performance touring tires.
After a long, tiring day at work, the CR-V offers an escape of serene driving experience, thanks to excellent NVH insulation and a comfortable, cosseting ride.
On winding roads, the CR-V doesn’t disappoint either as it provides excellent body control, responsive steering, a finely-tuned dynamic suspension able to handle quick transitions, coupled with excellent all-wheel drive grip.
This is despite the SX model weighing in at an admittedly portly 1,732 kg. Truly, the boffins in white coats at Honda know a thing or two about suspension black magic.
Despite the suspension tuning being firm and well controlled, there is still very good compliance on degrading provincial roads and light off-road trails as you still get a very good 208 mm of ground clearance.
The steering is the right sort of firm: steady on-center when you’re on a fast highway cruise, but offers great feel and tactility on winding roads.
It’s fine on parking lot maneuvers too, coupled with a tight 5.75-meter turning radius.
The brakes are a tad light, but you want that for long stints behind the wheel. Yet they offer good feel, feedback and modulation, something Honda didn’t forget as well when designing their most accomplished mommy-mobile yet.
Honda has a winner with the CR-V. It’s so well-equipped, so enjoyable to drive, so versatile.
Balance is key, and the Honda offers a well-balanced repertoire of abilities, features, and a pricing that, in light of what the industry is currently undergoing, is actually well-priced.
If you’ve been on the fence on what car to buy—and when, the CR-V has never been more tempting.