Honda’s top-of-the-line CR-V is in for review and after picking it from Melbourne, the first road trip test was the journey home to Wodonga. The 316km trip included a couple of pit stops for coffee and photos, but arriving safely its time to debrief on the initial impressions and experience so far. I’ll have a fully detailed review for you at the end of the review period, so if you have any questions, make sure you leave them in the comments.
The 2018 model of the CR-V is the most aggressive to date and the progress made was made apparent as I passed an older (more boring) model of the CRV. The front bar not only looks great, which its combination of shapes and materials, but also houses all the important components like the intercooler for the turbo, the LED headlights and daytime running lights, as weel as the chrome surrounded Honda badge sitting proudly up front.
The rear taillights are one of the most distinguishing features of the car, but the hard shapes and lines in the body work and elements like angled glass in the side mirrors that shows Honda committed to the design and followed that through which overall speaks to a single design direction, thoughtful and purposeful.
The rims have a unique silver/black design with a angled pattern that bounces off the hard edges of the bodywork which personally I really like. They aren’t your standard 5-spoke design, so they won’t be to everyone’s taste, but personally I like something different, something that stands out from the crowd and makes wheel a design feature, rather than simply a utilitarian contact patch with the road.
In terms of colours, the blue is electric and standard out compared to many other shades of blue on the road. Also available is light grey, dark grey, black, white and the feature colour, red (although this lacks the ruby shinnyness of the Mazda CX5). Having had a blue car for the last 15 years, my pick is certainly the dark grey.
The front windscreen houses the cameras and sensors necessary to power Honda’s Sensing technology (their equivalent to Autopilot). The combination of technologies – adpative cruise control and lane guidance assist, means the car comes pretty close to driving itself. Yes for most of the drive I had a hand on the wheel to ensure the safety alerts were happy, but being confident the car understood the road ahead meant it was possible to unfocus from the road for a few seconds. This time is great for grabbing a water bottle, opening the lid and taking a drink. The biggest benefit is feeling fresher after getting out of the car after an extended drive.
Honda’s infotainment system runs on a version of Android, but that’s made irrelevant by its support for Android Auto and Apply CarPlay. Seconds after jumping in the vehicle, I connected my phone. I pressed the voice button on the steering wheel and said “navigate home” and the car responded by providing driving directions out of the city at to the Hume, along with estimated time of arrival. I then pressed the voice button again and asked it to play PocketCasts and before I knew it, I was home. The only issue I spotted today was Maps in Android Auto rebooting occasionally. This is definitely something I’ll need to make sure isn’t an issue with my phone, rather than the car.
Very quickly I settled into a comfortable seating position and was able to store this as 1 of the 2 driver profiles. This became handy when entering the vehicle and ensuring the seat was returned to the correct position each time. I’ll be keen to see how this works practically with 2 drivers (my wife and I being very different heights). The electronic adjustments and lumber support made for a comfortable and easy to adjust seat, accented by the SUVs high driver position, giving a great view of the world around you.
The display is locked into a set position, but today there was no worries with visibility. It does have a decent range of brightness, so readability was fine, even during the sunniest parts of the journey. There’s no way around it, the black glass display is a magnet for dust, which means you’ll likely want to keep a microfibre cloth handy.
The 140kW turbocharged VTEC engine doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you plant your foot, it wakes up and delivers the power you need for entering a freeway or making a passing maneuver. It won’t win many drag races, but if you’re buying an SUV to do that, chances are you need to make a different decision. This is a good balance of power to weight, at least the weight of the vehicle with a single passenger. This is another area I’ll spend more time on over the next 2 weeks.
The fuel efficiency on the spec sheet lists 7.4L/100km of combined driving, but I managed 6.8L as an average for the whole trip. This is great, but is worth noting I was the only occupant and my luggage was just a backpack, I suspect these numbers will change with a family full of luggage and occupants.
Its clear Honda engineers spent a lot of time of fuel efficiency and the design of the slim line roof racks is a great example. Many other SUVs I seen today had elevated roof racks, creating drag and reducing efficiency. Personally I don’t see myself ever really carrying anything on the roof of a vehicle, so avoiding any penalty for the chance of maybe one day doing it, is important.
One area that could be improved is the door handles. As evidenced by Tesla’s Model S retracting the handles, it can create drag, and as I glanced in the side mirror I noticed just how pronounced they are on the CRV.
The drive today was made much easier thanks to the technology on-board, with the biggest challenge being that of watching for slow-moving traffic. The adaptive cruise control works wonders in traffic to perform the acceleration and braking for you. The risk is that you come up behind a car travelling slower than the speed limit and don’t realise it, you could be travelling at 10-15km below the speed zone if you’re not paying attention and need to overtake to resolve this.
The ride was comfortable although I did take breaks for photos and coffee, so can’t really speak to how it goes on a 3+ hour trip. Usually you should be breaking every 2 hours anyway, but first thoughts are that the driver’s seat is very comfortable and coming into winter, the inclusion of heated seats is very welcome.
So far after day 1, I’m very impressed with the Honda’s latest CRV. There are still plenty of features left to explore, like the 90 degree hinge on the rear doors, making it easy to get babies/kids out of the rear seats.