Published on July 24th, 2015 | by Subhash Nair0
Honda CR-V 2.0L 2WD iVTEC Review: The King Of Mount Practical
The CR-V has been the go-to mid-sized SUV for about a decade now, and even in 2015, it’s still proving why Honda is the king of the hill. The nameplate earned its reputation for being an all-round solid option even in its earlier iterations, representing great safety and practicality while still driving like a sedan and being generally low-maintenance.
However, with the new HR-V in the market offering the same number of seats in a trendier looking package and at a lower price tag, we thought it would be worth revisiting this recently facelifted model to see if the base model 2.0-litre 2WD CR-V still has what it takes to be competitive in today’s crowded crossover & SUV market.
Let’s start with the way the thing looks. Anyone who knows what ANY of the CR-Vs look like will instantly recognise this as one of them. Unlike almost all of its other models that have been through a bit of an identity crisis in the past, Honda have always retained the CR-V’s distinct stance and front/rear faces from the first generation. And yet, despite respecting the CR-V’s distinct styling, they have managed to squeeze in some updated styling to keep it in line with the range.
In fact, the most immediately recognisable change with this 2015 CR-V compared to the pre-facelift model is the addition of Honda’s new corporate grille, which it calls the ‘Solid Wing Face’. It maybe a borderline giggle-worthy name, but there’s no doubting it looks great on the SUV, and it’s cool that the designers went the extra mile to integrate the Daytime Running Lights into the design. It’s safe to say that the Solid Wing Face here is a natural evolution of the CR-V design.
Overall, the CR-V’s look seems to have also matured to reflect its place as one of Honda’s more premium products. Some may remember a time when it was a true barebones ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’, but it’s certainly more than that now. It’s large enough to be sold in the States, and has looks to rival its European counterparts. And because it’s ambitious enough to fight off more expensive products, Honda have ensured the build quality is there to match the top dogs. Admittedly, this base spec 2WD 2.0-litre doesn’t come with leather seats, but even then the choices of materials here feel great, with an unmistakeable Honda solidness about them.
Although the CR-V has been around from before the mid-sized SUV platform really took off, it’s not a car that can survive solely on its reputation, and Honda knows that, which is why it has got a lot of kit. This latest iteration is no exception. Even in the entry-level 2WD that we tested here, standard equipment is pretty impressive.
Those pretty Daytime Running Lights I mentioned earlier? They come without extra charge, and so do the self-levelling HID projector headlamps. Also standard issue is the 6-speaker system that can be hooked up to your phone via Bluetooth for hands-free use and media playback. And as with all Hondas, the audio quality and media interface is darn near faultless. The list of things that Honda has thrown into the CR-V package is pretty immense. Without going into too much details, the are four air bags, steering-mounted controls for audio and hands-free use, an 8-way driver power adjustable seat with lumbar support, dual zone air conditioning with rear vents (something the HR-V could use), and a slew of safety equipment.
The 2.0-litre powerplant in this base spec CR-V does not benefit from 4WD at all, but in many ways that’s probably for the best. It’s unlikely that situations would call for power to be distributed to all four wheels and that means it can achieve respectable average fuel consumption numbers. Even when pushing the upper limits of its rev range for long stretches at a time, I consistently hit between 11.0-12.5 l/100km, and official tests put its combined cycle closer to the 13.5 mark, which is perfectly plausible in favourable traffic conditions.
Its frugalness means it’s not exactly a powerhouse of an engine, but it does feel very well calibrated for an SUV of this size and weight. At low revs, it’s easily one of the most relaxing driving experiences available.
Quite honestly, even without the heap of accessories that come with it, the CR-V takes the cake for just being a sheer easy-to-drive experience. It has the right combination of ride height and chassis balance to make it feel like a very planted car that just so happens to have great all-round visibility. And if you think something this big might be difficult to manoeuvre, Honda have outfitted all CR-Vs with Hill Start Assist and a reverse camera to help out with day-to-day driving, but in all honesty, it feels like driving something the size of a Civic, just with a taller driving position. It just feels like a safe place to be.
I’m unsure if this is true, but it also feels as if Honda have very prudently capped the engine’s top speed to prevent the driver from going silly fast. It’s pretty evident that in its fifth and final gear ratio, the engine hits an invisible safety wall before you’d expect it to. At first I found it a bit infuriating, but then it made sense to me. The car outdoes a lot of other SUVs even at questionably legal speeds, and then it does the right thing and tells you, “no, don’t drive that way”. And that is actually a good thing.
You see it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make even a full-sized SUV go at insane speeds. In fact, you’ll find that a lot of the fastest highway drivers in Malaysia drive SUVs, MPVs, pick-up trucks and even buses. Technically, almost any vehicle can be pushed passed what is reasonable or even legal. The problem is that larger cars obviously don’t have the dynamics of sports cars. There is a reason Lamborghinis and Ferraris are low to the ground. SUVs aren’t just heavier, they’re taller and have softer, passenger-friendly suspension. They’re not optimised for speed.
So for Honda to stop the CR-V from doing what it knows the laws of physics won’t allow, it should deserve a commendation. Think of it as passive safety, because truth be told, safety is one of the CR-V’s other trump cards.
The aforementioned 4 air bags on this entry-level model protect the front passengers from both frontal and side impact. The car also comes with Anti-lock Braking System, Electronic Brake force Distribution, and Vehicle Stability Assist as you’d expect from Honda. That’s a very, very good combination of safety features to have as standard, and if you’ve got kids to transport, there’s even side curtain airbags on the 2.4-litre model.
When it comes to practicality, it’s the attention to detail that sets the Honda CR-V apart. Fitting a short USB extension cable instead of just a slot or even the fact that there’s a little gap for cables to fit through the centre console box when it’s closed shows that the engineers really put the extra effort into making the system work well in real world situations.
In terms of luggage space, with the rear seats in place, the boot measures 589-litres, which is a small suitcase larger than the its closest Japanese competitor. Of course, the rear seats do fold forward for added luggage room, but it’s got a little party trick up its sleeve. Instead of folding flat downward, the rear seat bottoms carry out a little acrobatic flip and fold forwards vertically, freeing up more space for the seat backs to fold flat. All this can be done from the boot just by pulling on a lever that looks and works exactly like a door handle.
This unique one-touch mechanism is actually quite clever, even taking into account the possibility of seatbelts being caught in the way. During testing, it simply pushed seatbelts slowly away and forced itself gently into its final position. It’s a neat little touch that saves the user a lot of time and energy. With the seats down, the class-leading space is increased further to 1146-litres – nearly double of its regular cargo carrying capacity.
All things considered, the CR-V is still the dominant SUV in this particular segment with the best combination of looks, equipment, performance, fuel efficiency and practicality. It may be a little more expensive than its younger brother, the HR-V, but difference in price does return a much larger package and a much more comfortable rear passenger experience thanks to the more advanced double wishbone suspension set up in the CR-V’s rear axle.
Honda CR-V 2.0L 2WD iVTEC
Engine SOHC 4 Cylinder 16 Valve i-VTEC
Transmission 5-Speed Electronically Controlled Automatic
Max Power 155PS @ 6500 RPM
Max Torque 190Nm @ 4300 RPM
Selling Price RM133,192.37