One of the first premium SUVs in the country – the Honda CR-V has come a long way since first launched. The CR-V has created an imagery that is premium and upmarket. However, a lack of a diesel engine and added flexibility was an area of concern and hence the SUV sold in very limited numbers. Now, Honda has given it a shot in its arm with the new generation 2018 Honda CR-V, which promises a lot and also now comes with a diesel engine, apart from having a seven seat option.
How does it look?
The design is not exactly radical but seems like an evolution from earlier CR-V. The front grille has good amount of chrome and the headlamps look sharp. These are full LED headlamps and there are LED DRLs on the corners. There is an air dam on the front grille and even the front bumper. The bumper is large and gives it an aggressive look. Chrome is restricted on the front grille but the grille is thick. The bonnet is muscular as well. The side profile is where the resemblance to the current CR-V still exists. The flared wheel arches do give it a muscular look and there are chrome strips on the bottom of the doors. The CR-V comes with 18-inch alloy wheels in a black-machined finish and it makes the SUV look big. The rear had tall tail lamps which are again LEDs. The rear look is typical Honda and there is a thick chrome strip running between the tailamps. There are roof rails proving on the top.
Overall the new CR-V has balanced looks and is attractive. This is one of those designs which is subtle and will live a long life. You cannot get bored of it easily.
How does it feel inside?
The 2018 Honda CR-V is one of the best SUVs when its comes to interiors. They spell of class, sophistication while being very pleasant. The all-black interior theme makes it rich. There are soft touch materials all over. The dashboard layout is neat and uncluttered. There is a large 7-inch touchscreen dominating the dashboard. This touchscreen has Android Auto and Apple Car Play. It also gets navigation, bluetooth and rear camera. It also displays the left side of the car, while you turn on the left indicator. It helps a lot and I think can be adopted by other manufacturers as well.
The instrument console has a screen in place. The speedometer is digital and the tachometer is interestingly designed in a retro fashion. The driver information system is detailed and is easy to rear as well. The steering wheel is small and has audio controls on the lest and cruise control on the right. It adjusts for rake and reach. The seats are comfortable and provide just the right cushioning and bolstering. The driver seat gets 6-way adjustment and one can arrive at a comfortable position quickly. The CR-V gets a panoramic sunroof too.
There are lot of storage spaces available. The centre console has an adjustable tray, that can also be removed. There is space to keep mobile phone and wallet. There is no gear lever here (except on the petrol version). This frees up lot of space and the dashboard looks wide and spacious. The door pads also can take a lot of stuff including water bottles.
The second row has adequate space and get adjustable sliding seats. These seats can double fold to allow easy access to the third row. There are rear AC vents with a couple pf fast charging USB ports for the rear passengers. The third row has very little space, suitable for children mainly. There are AC vents provided on the ceiling as well, but they can get intrusive. Boot space is adequate to accommodate family luggage on a holiday trip. The spare wheel is a full-sized alloy wheel and is easy to access.
Is it powerful?
The Honda CR-V comes in two engine options. The first is a 2.0-litre petrol motor that has 155bhp on tap, with 189Nm of torque. Now this engine is decently powerful but comes mated to a CVT. This makes it a relaxed one and is best suited for ones who drive mainly in the city, bumper to bumper traffic and are used to unhurried driving. The engine is smooth and refined, however, spirited driving is a no-no for it.
The second engine is more interesting. This is a 1.6-litre diesel which offers 120bhp of power and 300Nm of torque. The best part is that it comes mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Now, the specs are not very exciting. We wish there was more power available here. The drive on this one is not sprightly and you miss that diesel punch. However, The acceleration is brisk and the gearshifts are smooth. The transition is deceptive here. Due to this gearbox, there is good amount of low end torque available. The mid-range is where the CR-V diesel shines and it enjoyable to drive too. It is only at high speed overtaking that you find it wanting.
Ride and handling
The 2018 Honda CR-V is a big step up in this department. I was really impressed with the way this SUV rides. The ride quality is top notch and it absorbs bad roads, potholes and broken patches with aplomb. A pliant ride is what it offers its occupants, which is very un-SUV like. This is where this SUV shines. The handling is also quite impressive, especially the straight-line stability. The steering response is also quite precise and is easy to drive around in the city too. All-round visibility is not a problem as well. The NVH levels are also excellent and the cabin remains silent.
Is it worth-buying?
The new Honda CR-V will appeal to buyers who are evolved and have driven many a cars. This is an SUV which is very car-like. The sophistication it offers with the lever-less gearshift or the touch and feel of materials, coupled with a silent cabin, makes it desirable. The CR-V now is fuel efficient, with the diesel engine and also offers more flexibility with seven seats. Yes, it is not the most powerful SUV out there and if you want outright performance, then you can settle for a Jeep Compass or a Hyundai Tucson. But the CR-V offers a good overall package. Expect a price tag of Rs.30 lakhs upwards. If Honda manages to price it well, it can have a winner again.