The fifth-generation Honda CR-V, launched in 2016, boasts sophisticated new styling, a more spacious and versatile interior, and newly refined engines and technologies.
The CR-V has grown since its 1995 redesign, bringing with it something many consumers hadn’t seen before – a vehicle large enough to accommodate the whole family without breaking the bank on fuel economy. Since its introduction, the CR-V has been one of the best-selling compact crossovers on the market, making Honda the brand leader in its segment.
Today, however, it literally has to fight for its position against a host of young rivals in this crowded field.
The CR-V’s new main design direction is a little more aggressive and robust than its predecessors. The massive front grille has been given a major distinguishing feature – a chrome bar connecting the headlamps. The lower part of the bumper is more sharply shaped, giving the car a more robust impression. In the rear-view mirror, you can definitely distinguish it from other more conservative SUVs.
The sidebar hasn’t changed much. The CR-V is now 35mm taller, the wheelbase has grown by 40mm and the rear overhang is 35mm longer, which has had a positive effect on boot size.
The rear is dominated by split LED lights with pleasing graphics, reaching up to the roof and pleasing the eye of anyone you leave following close behind. From the rear, the CR-V additionally boasts a functional pair of exhausts with circular tailpipes and a visible underbody connection. That, with today’s trend of “hiding dirty exhausts,” is worthy of praise. Add to that the sound of a turbo-petrol engine, and it’s a joy to the ears too.
There have been a number of changes to the interior and it is now more European customer orientated than its predecessors. But there’s still that Japanese style and a subtle „confusion“in the design – where the trim will offer you fake wood panelling combined with painted trim, two kinds of air vent moulding side by side, hard plastic door trim, and moulded-in “fake” stitching on the dash and door tops.
In contrast, there are wonderfully soft visors and very comfortable cloth seats with quick heating and exemplary moulding of parts, or the feel-worthy controls and buttons. Still, for this flagship family SUV , the use of low-quality materials strikes me as an unnecessary dehonesty in a segment where a decently ergonomic and valuable interior can be created even in less luxury-oriented brands.
Lest I’m being unfair, the interior features plenty of storage, intuitively laid out controls, and truly royal space for the whole family. I can sit behind myself in the 5-seater version and still have 15cm of knee room at my 187cm height. The rear doors open at right angles and getting in or strapping the kids into their car seats is very comfortable. The cabin is airy and the view outside is ideal thanks to the large glazing. Large rear-view mirrors and a reversing camera with tracking and different views also help when parking in crowded cities. However, due to its location, the camera gets dirty very quickly and needs to be wiped down more often.
Despite the fine graphics and plethora of features, Honda’s Connect multimedia system is a little dated and can be seen to have been lifted from older models. A little more nimbleness and intuitiveness in the controls would have helped. Phone connection and connectivity is seamless. It handles Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and thus actually everything a modern person needs to do their work and have fun on board.
Luggage space can hold 561L in base configuration and up to 1756L with the rear seats folded down.
The seats can be folded down with levers in the boot, and when folded down, they create a flat floor. The really low loading edge is a big plus. However, the angle of the tailgate opening is a bad thing. These only open up to 179cm and if you have more, they’ll give you a tongue-biting moment to stop you from honouring the engineers from the land of the rising sun with some lovely synonym in front of the kids. The solution is an electrically operated lid, where you can adjust the angle manually, but you only get this on the highest trim.
The obvious feature in such a large boot is a commuter wheel under the double bottom and 12V and USB sockets wherever needed. The top plate can really hold a lot, doesn’t vibrate and has a simple attachment system.
But the most important change with this car has been under the hood. Here, only the turbo-petrol engine, familiar from other models of this brand, is available for the European market.
The 1.5 VTEC Turbo, modified for this model, has a different turbo and a differently shaped combustion chamber and EGR set-up in the CR-V. It offers two power outputs namely 127kW (173PS) and 220Nm at 5600rpm mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and 142kW (193PS) and 243Nm at the same revs mated to a CVT continuously variable transmission. There is no other choice.
Forget about the old and reliable atmospheric-fuelled twin-turbocharged diesel, which also excelled in fuel consumption and refinement – in the tough Euronorian era, they didn’t meet emissions limits in the CR-V.
Driving this otherwise very refined and technologically polished engine is very special. It stems from the conviction and feel of a heavy car but mostly from the fact that the engine lacks a bit more torque. The engine is lively and willing to be revved up to the red box of the digital rev counter, but the dynamic driving stops being fun just by looking at the actual consumption. That’s why there’s an ECO mode, which actually “kills” the dynamics and doesn’t allow hard acceleration, casually adding revs and using the START-STOP system at every opportunity. However, it’s only usable for really calm natures, and combined with the excellent adaptive cruise control, I can imagine it getting somewhere near the manufacturer’s claimed consumption figures.
With a standard loaded car (2 adults, 2 kids, 2 bobs, 1 rucksack) and about 600km trip, the average (60% motorway) combined consumption settled at 8.3L/100km. And the version tested only has a driven front axle. In 4wd it will be a higher figure. I don’t know what the benefit is of such “reducing” emissions, but if the option was there, I’d personally take a diesel with more torque and a more comfortable ride without having to downshift two gears when overtaking or climbing steeper gradients. Ironically, therefore, consumption is excessive to the CR-V’s original philosophy, and the proclaimed high economy of the new petrol engine is out of sight for me.
But I believe I am not the right target customer for this segment. Our fairer halves and the elderly, who make up a large percentage of SUV sales, will be somewhere else entirely with “dynamics” and consumption.
What I have to praise, on the other hand, is the chassis and steering. I haven’t had such a well-sounding and great-reading chassis under my seat and in my hands for a long time. Not to mention that this is actually an SUV that’s been given an extra 35mm of ground clearance and should lean and dampen all driving sensations. However, the CR-V doesn’t do that and on the contrary gives a lovely response from the front 18″ wheels despite the high profile balloon tyres. The chassis mercilessly irons those „beautiful“ Slovakian roads of ours to a tee. The multi-link rear axle doesn’t skip anywhere, holds the trail tenaciously and, in conjunction with the manual, provides a bit of that sporty bite.
Honda has equipped the new CR-V with the latest safety gadgets and systems for a smooth ride and on-board comfort (called the Honda Sensig System). The perfectly working and intuitive Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) along with Lane Keeping Assist System (LCAS) and Driver Attention System are some of the few equipment features that make driving this car very relaxed and smooth.
On an out-of-town or city road, once the adaptive cruise control is engaged at the desired speed and the minimum distance from the following vehicle is selected, the driver doesn’t actually have to worry about anything, so all he or she has to do is keep his or her hands on the steering wheel and shift speeds as much as possible. The system maintains the gap perfectly, can slow down to a complete stop and then resume speed without driver intervention. It’s nicely tuned and some European car companies could learn how to do it. Driving in traffic was comfortable for me for the first time, even with a manual gearbox, almost as comfortable as with an automatic.
Under hard braking, a sudden obstacle but also just going around corners faster, the CR-V will tighten your seatbelt and set the pre-collision braking. If you don’t react, it vibrates and jerks the belts, then corrects or brakes for the driver.
Other standard features include things like Led headlights, Honda Connect + navigation, parking sensors, rear parking camera, dual automatic climate control, front fog lights, rain sensor and lots more. I didn’t miss anything in the tested version that I would have wanted or could have paid extra for.
The 2019 Honda CR-V is an example of an SUV loaded with technology, safety features and premium equipment. However, all of this is already offered by many competitors and will have a tough time in the current market. Many people still aren’t identified with a gasoline engine in a large car, and the inability to choose will push a large percentage of potential buyers elsewhere.
The pricing is very nice though with the base price in Comfort trim at €24,990,- and the actual price of the tested model in Elegance trim was €28,590,- (base price €27,990,-, €600,- extra for metallic paint). The dealer also provides various interesting bonus promotions and the opportunity to take advantage of discounted financing, or extended warranty up to 3 years / 100 000 km + 8-year loyalty program Honda Premium Quality.
The dealer also provides a variety of interesting bonus promotions and the opportunity to take advantage of discounted financing, or extended warranty up to 3 years / 100 000 km + 8-year loyalty program Honda Premium Quality.
|Technical Data||Honda CR-V 1.5 VTec TURBO|
|Maximum power (kW(h)/rpm)||127 (173)/5,600|
|Highest torque. torque (Nm / rpm):||220 / 1,900 – 5,000|
|Acceleration 0 – 100 km/h (s):||9.3|
|Combined – WLTP (l/100 km):||6.3|