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2012 Honda CR-V Review and First Drive

by under Review on 21 Nov 2012 01:44:53 PM21 Nov 2012
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HONDA 2012 CRV 4X4
Price Range
$NaN - $NaN
Fuel Consumption
NaNL - NaNL/100km
4RATING
PROS

Sophisticated looks; family-friendly interior space; practicality; nice 2.4-litre engine

CONS

Seats a tad flat; tyre noise on poor roads

Honda’s clever thinking is clearly on display in the all-new fourth-generation CR-V mid-size SUV. Smaller outside but more spacious inside, now with a two-wheel-drive model, improved fuel consumption and packed with family-friendly features, the good-looking new Honda CR-V is well-placed to take-on rivals like the Mazda CX-5 and upcoming all-new Toyota RAV 4. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON



Debuting back in 1995, in many ways the Honda CR-V launched the so-called ‘soft-roader’ phenomenon and buyers throughout the world have responded with their cheque books – more than 5.5-million CRVs have been sold, with 133,000 on the road in Australia.

But times have changed and Hondas knew the all-new CR-V had to be good in order to match Mazda’s hot-selling new CX-5 (the latter gaining a more powerful 2.5-litre petrol engine from next year).

Honda CR-V Overview


Underlining just how serious Honda is with the CR-V, the all-new model has been launched with a very competitive starting price of $27,490 (2WD VTi manual) – or $29,990 ‘Driveaway’. The two-wheel-drive variants are powered by Honda’s 2.0-litre petrol engine while the four-wheel-drive models score the improved 2.4-litre petrol powerplant with extra performance and improved fuel economy.

The range follows Honda’s normal nomenclature – entry model VTi (2WD and 4WD), mid-grade VTi-S and range-topping VTi-L (the latter two only in 4WD). VTi-L adds leather interior and nice 18-inch alloy wheels amongst its extras - pleasingly all variants come standard with the family-friendly safety of a reversing camera. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON



While the all-new fourth generation Honda CR-V rides on basically the same platform as the previous generation, we like the new looks. The latest CR-V is shorter and lower and clever design has provided extra space inside for passengers and cargo – always plus-points for families.

Honda will boost the CR-V lineup next year with the launch of a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel model.

Honda CR-V Engine


The all-new Honda CR-V scores a new 2.0-litre engine for 2WD models. The same 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine is available in Civic sedan – maximum power is 114kW at 6500rpm and peak torque of 190Nm is delivered at 4300rpm. Combined cycle fuel consumption is rated at 7.8l/100kms (six-speed manual) and exhaust C02 emissions score 179g/km. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON



Honda’s 2.4-litre i-VTEC engine has been improved for the all-new CR-V – power is up to 140kW at 7000rpm (125kW in the old model) and torque has climbed to 222Nm at 4400rpm (from 218Nm). But the big gains are in efficiency – fuel consumption down by 13 per-cent to 8.7l/100kms and exhaust C02 down by 15 per-cent to 201g/km.

Part of that improved efficiency comes from aerodynamics (weight for the all-new CRV is only slightly less than the old model). The new model has a longer roofline, underbody panels, an aero front bumper and curved wheel-arches, all of which combine to deliver an eight per-cent improvement in the drag co-efficient

The Honda CR-V comes with an ‘ECON’ mode (operated by a dashboard button) which adjusts the throttle mapping for enhanced fuel economy.

Transmissions are a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic.

Honda CR-V the Interior


As usual with Honda, there is a premium feel about the interior of the all-new CR-V. That comes from nice quality materials and – as expected – it’s just screwed together very well. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON


This time around, Honda designers have gone for a horizontal, layered look for the dashboard (increases the spacious feel). The conventional gauges are housed in a curved binnacle and the new-look; modern three-spoke steering wheel (with lots of F1-style buttons) adjusts for rake and reach.

To the left is the five-inch colour i-MID multi-information screen for audio and Bluetooth which allows customized wallpaper (perhaps a photo of your family, your pet or even your favourite sporting team) which doubles for the reversing camera and satellite navigation.

Seats look good but are a tad flat which means support when cornering hard is a little lacking. Both front seats adopt Honda’s new whiplash mitigation engineering – in an impact, the lower part of the seat backs provide some ‘give’, reducing the distance travelled by driver and front passenger’s heads before they hit the head-restraints. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON


But the big news comes in the rear. That extra interior space has been used cleverly – the hip point for the Honda CR-V’s rear seat is 38mm lower which combines with the longer roofline to provide enhanced head-room and the cargo capacity jumps by 147-litres to 1648-litres (rear seat folded).

And folding the 60/40 split-fold rear seat is easy thanks to a clever one-tug strap which sees the seat back, base and headrests tumble-fold to provide a large, flat load area which can accommodate a few sets of golf clubs or mountain bikes.

Honda CR-V Exterior & Styling


All-new Honda CR-V adopts a sophisticated, sleek look and very smart packaging. It’s certainly more aggressive – Honda says the sleek upper half contrasts with the functional lower half to reflect CR-V’s combination of soft-roader/practicality.

That more purposeful look is highlighted by more sculpturing for the side panels and a sporty front-end with an aero shape for the bumper, bold three-bar grille and the modern, recessed headlights. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON


At the rear, all-new Honda CR-V retains the hallmark vertical rear lights but introduces a contemporary three-dimensional look.

Compared to the previous generation, the new model is 30mm shorter and 30mm longer. The longer roofline boosts both rear seat headroom and cargo capacity and up-front the A-pillar has shifted forward by 60mm.

Range-topping VTi-L runs very stylish 18-inch alloy wheels while the rest use handsome 17-inch alloys.

Honda CR-V On The Road


For the national media launch, Honda sent us from the Adelaide CBD up into the hills over a variety of city and rural roads. During the full day, car Showroom sampled CR-V’s range-topping VTi-L and entry-grade 2.0-litre VT-i in both automatic and manual.

A couple of significant engineering changes have altered the CR-V’s driving dynamics. For starters the new bodyshell is stiffer – seven per-cent stiffer in bending rigidity and nine per-cent stiffer in torsional rigidity. Power steering has switched from hydraulic to more fuel-efficient electric. And in the pursuit of improved refinement, there is substantially more sound insulation and a 10 per-cent change in rear damper volume. 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON


We suspect there has been more done underneath as there’s no doubt the all-new Honda CR-V rides much flatter, with noticeably less body roll than its predecessor. There is also a much more linear response from the front-end when turning into fast corners.

Response from both engines was good, but over the twists and curves of the Adelaide hills, the ratios of the five-speed automatic transmission weren’t kind to the 2.0-litre (the gap between second and third gears was too wide – a six-speeder would be nice). The 2.4-litre with steering wheel paddle shifters was dynamic with quick responses changing up and down the ratios.

At the high-speed limit, the Honda CR-V doesn’t quite match the sporty Mazda CX-5 but there’s no doubting the refinement and comfort of Honda’s newcomer – it’s up there with the best in this segment.

Our only points deduction was a curious one. We tackled the same drive route numerous times and on one section the road surface changed to a new coarse chip which brought a noticeable leap in noise from the Japanese Dunlop tyres – but just in that one section.

Honda CR-V Challenges


We’d just like a six-speed automatic transmission and some extra support from the Honda CRV’s front seats.

Honda CR-V Verdict


We’ve always been big fans of the Honda CRV – Honda technology, a smart package size and family-friendly space gets out attention every time. But there’s no doubt the superseded CR-V was in need of replacement as it had been comprehensively lead-frogged by newer designs such as the MazdaCX-5 and Ford Kuga.

Honda CR-V The Competition


The mid-size SUV segment could be Australia’s most intense and the Honda CRV squares-off against some fantastic vehicles with more to come.

In the latter category list the previous segment leader the Toyota RAV4. The all-new RAV debuts at the Los Angeles International Auto Show the last week of November and launches locally next year.
 

2012 HONDA CRV 4X4 4D WAGON



Same for the other historic segment-leader, the Subaru Forester. We’ll be driving the all-new Forester at the national press launch in a couple of weeks. Despite the new looks and extra specification, we reckon Subaru will be desperate to hold the Forster’s current $30,990 starting price or even move it under $30,000.

In the ‘Here Now And Currently The Best-Seller’ department, we have the mighty Mazda CX-5 – without doubt one of the best cars of 2012. Priced from $27,800 the CX-5 has the benchmark driving dynamics in this league and gives the Honda CR-V a run for its money for interior space.

A Car Showroom favourite in this segment is the German-sourced Ford Kuga. Now looking a little pricey, starting from $38,990, the current Kuga employs Ford’s marvelous five-cylinder petrol engine but this will not be in the all-new lineup which arrives next year.

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