Real-life lessons in eco-driving with the CR-V Diesel

By Tessa R. Salazar Philippine Daily Inquirer December 19,2018
Real-life lessons in eco-driving with the CR-V Diesel

The Honda CR-V diesel chalked a 23.96 km/liter during a recent Department of Energy-sanctioned eco run.

Photos by Tessa R. Salazar

How quickly the ambiance changes in the fossil fuels landscape. Just a couple of months ago, the motoring public was sweating buckets over the seemingly runaway fuel price increases for both gasoline and diesel fuels.

Then, overnight, world oil prices began to plummet. And they’re still in that downward trajectory as of press time.

However, there has been news that the world’s biggest suppliers of oil will cut down their production volumes in the coming weeks, which will, in turn, tip fuel prices upward once more.

By now we motorists must be aware that, amidst these cycles of price increases and rollbacks, fuel accounts for one of the highest costs in maintaining and running an internal combustion engine-powered automobile.

It’s also the one factor that we can take most control of. It’s either we spend zero amount on fuel by riding the bus instead of driving the car, or minimize our fuel consumption by driving our cars in a most efficient manner.

The former is easy. The latter is a bit more complicated, and requires a combination of good driver habits and a fuel-efficient car.

For fuel-efficient technologies, you can’t get more loaded than Honda’s sole diesel-powered vehicle in the market today, the 1.6-liter CR-V i-DTEC turbo diesel.

The CR-V recently received two distinguished safety-related awards at the Asean NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) Grand Prix Awards 2018, which took place in Karawang, Indonesia.

It won the Best SUV Car in child occupant protection (COP) and the Asean NCAP Excellent Award-Consistent 5 Star.

Now, however, we focus on its fuel efficiency.

Despite the small engine size for its SUV classification, the CR-V diesel is one powerful hauler.

This article will concentrate on its fuel efficiency, because, for this characteristic alone, the Honda CR-V diesel is worth owning and running.

During a test run of the CR-V diesel a few weeks back, it was a highway-best readout of 21.3 km per liter, which is not bad, and even quite close to Honda Cars Philippines’ own fuel consumption result of 23.96 km/liter for the CR-V diesel during the recent Department of Energy-sanctioned eco run.

But then we must realize that in real life, most of us spend nearly all of our driving in congested cities and urban centers, and rarely even exceed 30 kph.

For many cars, that’s when fuel efficiencies fly out the window and plummet to less than 9 km/liter.

In the days when I drove the Honda CR-V during the busiest rush hours in Metro Manila, the fuel mileage indicator didn’t go lower than 10 km/liter.

I posted my driving results at the CR-V Diesel Club Philippines’ social media page. The responses I got seem to prove that what I achieved was no fluke.

One member claimed he got 28 km/liter on Eco Mode going to Baguio during a midnight run, using cruise controls for the Tplex and Sctex stretches, then turning off the AC once the cool Cordillera air set in.

Many others also got 10 km/liter or above on their city drives.

How could a small diesel engine be this efficient hauling quite a relatively heavy SUV body?

Real-life lessons in eco-driving with the CR-V Diesel

The instrumentation panel meticulously tracks down fuel consumption.

HCPI’s technical team explained that the CR-V diesel engine uses a turbo system in conjunction with friction and weight/load reduction technologies, paired with the 9-speed automatic transmission that properly selects the appropriate torque/horsepower needed for the road condition.

In other words, Honda has found a way to extract more driving power from a smaller displacement engine, and then efficiently transmitting that power from the engine to the wheels using a 9-speed tranny.

HCPI likened the 9-speed transmission to that of a mountain bike that has gears at the center hub and rear wheel.

An experienced cyclist is able to select the most efficient combination of gears for the road condition and incline.

In principle, the more gears a bike has, the better the biker’s options to pedal efficiently, optimizing the distance covered for every pedal cycle and minimizing biker fatigue.

That’s why, the technical team says, having a 9-speed transmission instead of just 5 or 6 makes the CR-V diesel engine not work “too hard” in various traffic and road conditions.

And when the engine doesn’t work too hard, it doesn’t consume too much fuel.

When HCPI says the CR-V diesel engine doesn’t work too hard, note that the tachometer still reads a chill 1,500-1,800 rpm even as the speed goes upwards of 100 kph.

One CR-V diesel club member suggested that the vehicle should be subjected to a long highway drive at least once a month to clear the engine of carbon deposits that could have built up over the course of stop-and-go city driving.

The HCPI technical team said this would be an unnecessary (albeit enjoyable) practice.

The team explained that the engine part clearances are too small for buildups. These small gaps also reduce the likelihood of leaks and vibration.

The electronic systems are sophisticated enough to react quickly to slight changes in the environment and driving conditions, enabling better calculations of the amount of fuel and the timing of its injection.

Furthermore, available fuels are now Euro 4 compliant, which means they burn cleaner and more efficiently, significantly reducing carbon and sulfur deposits, and carrying better detergent/cleaning additives.

The CR-V diesel engine’s efficiency shows—even when one is overly aggressive on the pedal.

According to the technical team, even when someone brutally floors the CR-V diesel’s accelerator pedal in order to produce that thick, sooty emission that raises red flags among anti-smoke belching operatives, no sulfuric smell or black smoke comes out of the CR-V diesel’s exhaust.

The technical team said, though, that a couple of old habits of diesel-powered vehicle owners need to be discontinued in order to reduce fuel wastage.

These are: 1) pumping the accelerator pedal several times before turning off the engine, and 2) “warming up” the engine for a few minutes before driving away.

The team said that a few seconds after their engines are turned on, today’s new vehicles are good to go.

But does turning off the AC help increase fuel mileage? The technical team replied in the affirmative. But that would make for one “hellish” ride, wouldn’t it?

As a parting shot, the HCPI technical team reminds all owners of ICE-powered vehicles to keep their rides well-maintained all the time, and to follow the manufacturer’s recommended PMS schedules.

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