Honda’s latest CR-V breaks new ground


With four generations behind it, and over two decades of being a popular mainstay in Honda’s lineup that’s competing in the industry’s fastest-moving segment in the market, the all-new Honda CR-V needs to do a lot more than just jostle for enough space on the stage.

It has to unequivocally convince potential customers that there’s whole a lot more behind its shiny new handsome face. Harder even is convincing the Motoring media about it.

From our roll-out point at BGC in Taguig to our final destination, which was Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar at Bagac in Bataan, our convoy of 2018 all-new Honda CR-Vs traveled approximately 161 kilometers one way.

It was made up of all four variants of the all-new CR-V, namely, in ascending order, the 2.0 S CVT (gasoline, 5-seater, priced at P1.648 million), V Diesel 9AT (7-seater, at P1.671 million), S Diesel 9AT (7-seater, at P1.835 million), and the top of the line SX Diesel 9AT AWD (7-seater, at P2.086 million).

Answering the D question

Of the four variants, three of them were diesel-powered, and more interestingly, single small-displacement (by diesel engine standards)—1.6 liters to be exact—bold enough to be stacked-up against the competition’s 2.7, 3.0 and even 3.2-liter diesel behemoths.

So the million-dollar-question we were all asking was: Will a 1.6-diesel engine be adequate for a 7-seater compact SUV equipped with an automatic transmission, and even an AWD configuration at that?

Recreated waterways bound Spanish colonial-era buildings made to resemble a period settlement at Las Casas.

Of course, the CR-V was literally brimming with the latest active safety and performance tech features, but we all temporarily ignored that because of the “D” question.

The answer? A pretty much convinced yes.

The CR-V diesel variant did not surge assertively or when on overtaking maneuvers at expressway speeds, but it did not make you wish you had a jockey’s whip even on normal driving mode.

Flicking it on Sport mode would buy you that extra sliver of confidence to seamlessly weave around the clueless slowpoke hogging the fast lane.

The CR-V’s 1.6-liter diesel engine is more than ample on normal driving situations in the city (not referring to the congested norm), especially since it’s a diesel with a beefier torque configuration at lower engine rpm that’s enough to briskly zip you in and out of tight spots in traffic with a full complement of passengers.

The all-new Honda CR-V on the cobbled roads of the Las Casas village.

We also put it through the litmus test by traversing the tightly-twisted uphill roads leading to Mt. Samat.

With three to four people in each CR-V with luggage and gear, it’s a viable choice.

I personally would have preferred a 2.0-liter diesel instead, but it’s hard to argue with a 13.7 km/liter average fuel consumption reading during that 15 to 20 minutes of aggressive uphill drive with the Sport mode on.

Can’t tech it for granted

Honda is known to produce the best handling automobiles in their class.

Despite the modern tech on safety features and driving aids, the steering always feels connected, and the dynamics tight and predictable to keep the driving experience an engaging one.

A perky romp on the sand by the beach is no problem at all for the all-new Honda CR-V.

That subtly sporty driving feel, I’m glad to say, is still present in the all-new CR-V, albeit with very comfortable and well-bolstered seats, and a slightly smaller than usual leather-clad steering wheel with clear and uncluttered interface controls.

The CR-V is laden with fancy sounding, but admittedly essential and effective, tech features that enhance driver and passenger safety.

Here are some that I find most notable in an impressive list:

1. LSF or low speed follow

When tailing a vehicle at under 30 km/h, the CR-V intelligently senses your speed and distance to the car ahead, and will apply the brakes automatically if you don’t—at the crucial moment. This comes very handy during tight, stop-and-go traffic.

Top three photos: Intelligent driver-assist features come into play during fast-paced runs on packed sand, mud, and loose dirt.

2. ACC or adaptive cruise control

As what the phrase implies, this safety feature helps the CR-V adjust to road conditions (slight inclines, downhill slopes, curves) based on the cruising speed you set, including maintaining a safe distance from the car ahead of you, which is also dependent on your current speed.

3. LKAS or lane keep assist

If the CR-V senses that you’re driving erratically on a highway, perhaps getting sleepy and unconsciously drifting to the next lane, the electronic power steering system will give some discernible resistance to swerving. It’s also intelligent enough to distinguish this from a deliberate action (i.e., weaving safely).

Soft-roader edge

After settling in at Las Casas’ Heritage Village, we were surprised to find out that there were off-roading activities to do with the CR-V amidst the manicured lawns and beautifully picturesque mansions of the place.

I was glad to hear that there is significantly more function behind the buffed-up form, and I didn’t hold back in proving it for myself.

The new CR-V’s all-wheel drive system that intelligently transfers the most torque and grip to the wheels that need it the most, proved to be very effective on the terrain that’d bog down lesser vehicles faster than an adrenaline-spiked driver can realize: on sand!

With a little common sense (i.e., judicious use of the throttle and proper steering), a perky romp on the sand by the beach was no problem at all.

Hill-hold and hill-descent safety features actively kick-in precisely at the right moment, at angles that you wouldn’t think of driving your gleaming new CR-V into.

Brightly illuminated houses of Las Casas

Fast-paced runs on mud, loose dirt and packed sand allow you confident control of the vehicle’s dynamics, thanks to a plethora of intelligent driver-assist features that come into play simultaneously.

Your move

With a refreshingly athletic and handsome stance (longer, lower profile and with a taller ride height on the SX variant), impressive performance that proves its worth under all that sleek sheet metal, a roomier interior and an impressive driver’s interface, the (big) cherry on top is the 1.6-liter diesel engine that provides ample power and exceptional fuel economy.

It’s a first on a CR-V, and it looks like Honda laid down all its cards on the table as well. By doing so, it gave a tried-and-tested 5th generation nameplate more than a few exciting new things for the market to look forward to and benefit from.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

latest stories