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First Drive: 2024 Honda CR-V (Turbo + e:HEV) - Feels pricier...but still the SUV benchmark?


First Drive: 2024 Honda CR-V (Turbo + e:HEV) - Feels pricier...but still the SUV benchmark? managed to get some early seat time in the all-new and much anticipated 6th-generation Honda CR-V. Launching in Malaysia as a 2024 model, we (myself alongside other media reps) sampled 2 variants with both the e:HEV hybrid powertrain as well as the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol unit across 3 days in northern Thailand.

This is what I came away with after that experience. You can think of this as the more word-heavy companion to the ‘first drive’ video I’ve linked to below, hence the identical title:

First, some context on positioning. Apart from the Civic Type R sold at an eye-watering RM400k and only obtainable (for now) via a raffle system, this incoming CR-V will be the flagship of Honda Malaysia’s lineup.

Expected to cost a good chunk of change more than the outgoing model, especially with the addition of a more complex i-MMD plonked into the range-topping RS variant, the CR-V repeats the push upmarket that we’ve seen in other Honda models in recent years.

In case you didn’t know, the Honda CR-V’s now iconic acronym stands for: ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’. Now by this 6th major evolution, it has cemented itself as - more or less - the world’s ‘default’ urban SUV, a crown it begrudgingly shares with the Toyota RAV4, particularly in North America.

Exterior Design

Speaking of that part of the world, the all-new CR-V really does wear its American cues (Canadian, more accurately, since much of its design was done there) on its sleeve. I’ve heard plenty of comparisons with other cars from other makes, and can definitely see some clear Volvo V60/XC60 resemblance from the rear, especially in white.

That said, to me this Honda has an atypically Ford Explorer-like vibe to its overall proportions and design. Its bonnet is rather flat and long, the A-pillar is pushed that much more rearward, and it has a more masculine stance that parallels the design shift between the Civic FC and Civic FE.

Overall, a handsome object that should put even the Mazda CX-5 (and CX-8?) on notice. One thing I do feel is a bit of a misstep here is the omission of the CR-V’s 19-inch wheel option at the high end as seeing it on Thai roads did stir up some envy.

Surely the 18-inch alloys coming to the Malaysia-spec RS will ride better, but the larger two-tone units gave it a significant bump in curb appeal.


Lots of room to be enjoyed in here. Unlike previous iterations of the CR-V that followed a more cab-forward profile, that A-pillar being pushed back has seemingly not effected interior practicality and airiness in the slightest.

Measuring 1,866mm (or 6.4cm more than the Civic), this isn’t a terribly wide SUV, nor does it feel like it. The cabin does excel in terms of vertical space, allowing plenty of headroom for both front and rear passengers while rear legroom is more than ample as well.

At a glance, and apart from some negligible differences in trim material, the dashboard fascia here is identical to Honda’s C-segment sedan, from steering wheel, the exact 9-inch infotainment display to the faux air-curtain air conditioning vents, to the same gear lever used as far down as the City.

Taking the familiarity and lack of novelty out of the equation, the CR-V’s interior presentation is objectively high quality, though not quite up to par with cars that are associated with the ‘premium’ designation - yes, even Mazdas.


Again, echoing the Civic, we find the duo of a 1.5-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine (193PS, 243Nm) and an i-MMD hybrid power unit with the latter only available in the top-spec RS.

We’ll actually start with the e:HEV that is no doubt going to place the CR-V in a new tier of on-the-road sophistication and price. Its 2.0-litre Atkinson-cycle naturally-aspirated engine acting as a generator is wound down to a barely noticeable hum unless the system is really pushed, leaving the majority of your drive to be done on the electric traction motor (184PS, 335Nm) and therefore, fairly hushed.

I’ve previously noted how the near instant 315Nm of torque gave the Civic an almost unfair performance advantage against most other cars, and in the CR-V there’s an extra 20Nm at our disposal, it felt an ideal match for the SUV’s extra size and heft.

There are some lingering questions that we’ll cover in our post-launch coverage and full review, such as fuel efficiency (expect it to be very good) as well as the reduction in the e:HEV’s peak system power from 207PS.

Driving Impressions

Sitting in the CR-V, holding onto a Civic’s steering wheel while at looking screens, digital readouts, and a dashboard that’s equally identical in the periphery, it’s hard to not arrive at the obvious conclusion that this is a high-riding Civic.

There are, of course, fairly evident dynamic differences. It’s a much softer suspension overall nowhere near as confident through faster bends given the extra body roll and somewhat vague front end. However, as SUVs go, the CR-V acquits itself fairly well, beating out many of its contemporaries on agility save for the Mazda CX-5.

While the hybrid is faster in most cases, it’s also noticeably less involving. The count of customers buying such a car for its driving enjoyment is probably close to zero, but they’d be better served in the turbo-petrol.

With 3 adults and our luggage, the 1.5-litre turbocharged engine did feel noticeably encumbered, needing to really be rung out over some uphill parts of our Chiang Mai —> Chiang Rai route to keep up with the e:HEV, a challenge most welcome.

Summing Up

All said and done, the CR-V is an impressive step forward against the already well-rounded 5th-generation version.

It seems to be an improvement across the board while also adding some extra desirability and tech that’s hopefully sufficient in magnitude to compensate for its price increase. We’re curious to see how fervently Malaysian car buyers respond, or don’t.


Jim Kem

Jim Kem

Content Producer

There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.

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