The SUV segment is synonymous with the Honda CR-V, having cemented its superiority over the two decades plus since it first went on sale in 1995.
The Honda CR-V was not exactly the pioneer in the mainstream SUV segment, as the Toyota RAV4 entered the scene roughly a year earlier in 1994.
Despite being earlier to the market than the CR-V, the RAV4 never really caught on here in Malaysia. Coupled with the fact that the current generation RAV4 was never officially offered for sale here, the RAV4 soon became a distant memory.
Thanks to the demise of the Toyota RAV4 from the local market, Honda managed to hold on to its crown, though competition in the form of the Nissan X-Trail, Subaru Forester, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Mazda CX-5 threatened the CR-V’s top spot.
Does the all-new model have what it takes to remain on the top of the food-chain?
Specifications for Honda CR-V 1.5 AWD
- Engine: 1.5-litre transverse four-cylinder, turbocharged
- Power: 190 hp at 5,600 rpm
- Torque : 243 Nm at 2,000 – 5000 rpm
- Transmission: CVT-type automatic, AWD
- Safety: Six airbags, ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Agile Handling Assist (AHA), Emergency Stop Signal (ESS), reverse camera, ISOFIX
- Price: RM 152,470 without insurance
- Assembly: Locally-assembled in Pegoh, Melaka
The all-new fifth-generation was launched in July 2017, with four variants available for buyers to choose. All but the entry-level CR-V features the company’s 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, first introduced with the tenth-generation Civic.
Our loaner, despite featuring AWD, isn’t top of the crop in the CR-V lineup, as Honda Malaysia has positioned the CR-V 1.5 TC-P 2WD as the flag bearer. So, no top spec AWD for us.
Disappointed that the top spec isn’t the AWD model? Well, Honda Malaysia reckons that buyers these days will prioritize on the safety aspects of the CR-V 1.5 TC-P 2WD’s Honda Sensing safety suite, instead of having AWD.
Coming in at 4,584 mm long, 1,855 mm wide, and 1,689 mm tall, the all-new Honda CR-V is about 6 mm shorter length-wise than the model it replaces, though the new SUV is now 35 mm wider, allowing for better shoulder room for passengers. The AWD variant of the CR-V is almost 10 mm taller than its 2WD brethren.
Up front, the all-new Honda CR-V gets LED headlights, LED DRLs, and LED front fog lights, while the rears get LED tail lights and a single rear LED fog light.
In terms of design, Honda utilized their ‘Modern Functional Dynamic’ design language for the all-new CR-V. Whether the design is up your alley is completely up to you, as design is a highly debatable and subjective topic. We do like how imposing the front end of the all-new CR-V is, though the rear end takes some time getting used to.
Again, all but the entry-level models wear 18-inch dual-tone alloy wheels all round, shod in 235/60R18 Toyo Proxes R45 rubbers. The entry-level CR-V 2.0 gets 17-inch alloy wheels instead.
The key highlight of the new CR-V is its unmatched practicality, even if interior trim materials are one notch below the CX-5.
One example is the massive tailgate aperture that eases cargo loading and unloading. Coupled with the low loading floor and tall roofline, loading heavy or large items are a breeze compared to rivals like the Mazda CX-5. Practicality is taken to another level with the second row seats folded flat, expanding the already massive 522 litres of boot space to a whopping 1,084 litres.
Massive boot space aside, the CR-V's rear seats are noteworthy as they offer great comfort thanks to comfortable cushions and the seats have the ability to recline. Legroom, headroom, and shoulder room are also good for a family of five. Storage spaces at the rear is also decent, as the door pockets are large enough for the needs of most families. The rear seats are further complemented by a pair of USB charging ports behind the centre console and rear air vents.
The practicality theme continues with the centre console storage, as it features enough space to safely stow a handbag in there.
Another aspect where the all-new CR-V reigns supreme over the Mazda CX-5 is its infotainment system, as its 7-inch Advanced Display Audio system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto right out of the box. Unfortunately for Mazda owners, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto have yet to be formally introduced here.
We also appreciate and enjoy using the digital meter cluster. Similar to the tenth-generation Honda Civic, the digital meter cluster is tied back to the infotainment and navigation system, displaying current song played and turn-by-turn navigation directions.
If we were to nitpick, we reckon the faux wood trim is the biggest offender here. The base CR-V 2.0’s silver interior trim, we believe, would be a better fit for the CR-V, as the wooden trim looks rather out of place in the CR-V.
Surefooted and well balanced is the best way to describe the Honda CR-V’s driving dynamics, thanks to its AWD configuration. We took the SUV through trunk roads and highways and the CR-V never left us wanting more traction or grip.
Steering is responsive enough, although the one on the Mazda CX-5 offers better sharpness and road feedback. Despite that, the weightage is just right without feeling over-assisted or under-assisted. Being a family-oriented SUV, steering feedback is practically non-existent, isolating the driver from the surface underneath.
While on the topic of being a family-oriented SUV, the all-new CR-V’s ride comfort leans a little on the softer sprung side, though without compromising too much on handling.
We also had the chance to drive the previous generation Mazda CX-5 through the same trunk roads and noticed that the CX-5 offered a more engaging and exciting driving experience. The CX-5 leaned less in corners than the CR-V, though the naturally-aspirated CX-5 in the 2.0-litre guise did left us occasionally wanting more.
In this aspect, the CR-V, thanks to its turbocharged engine that does a healthy 190 hp and 243 Nm, never left us desiring for more grunt. Coupled with the silky smooth CVT, the Honda CR-V just accelerates off the line with ease. However, unlike the Subaru XV that we recently sampled, the virtual ratios in the CVT-type automatic are practically unnoticeable, if any at all.
Although the inclusion of real time AWD may sound like fuel economy is compromised for the sake of improved traction, during our time with the new CR-V, the fuel consumption came up to an average of 11.7 km/L, pretty darn impressive for an SUV that was driven with a full load most of the time.
Seeing that almost every car manufacturer throwing an SUV into the mix, Proton soon to be included, buyers are generally spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping for one.
Granted, if a fun-to-drive SUV is what you want, then the Volkswagen Tiguan or Mazda CX-5 should be shortlisted instead, as those two models are better known for their driving dynamics.
But if what you want is an all-rounder SUV that is the most family-friendly, has the most practical and spacious cabin, then the Honda CR-V should be on your shopping list, as for what it’s worth, the CR-V truly stands out as one of the best SUVs money can buy at this very moment. No surprise why the CR-V has managed to top sales charts time after time and continues to do so.