Published on April 9th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
Honda’s CR-V Remains The Most Practical SUV in the Market
We all remember when the CR-V first took the Malaysian market by storm in the 90s. At the time, SUVs were seen as off-roaders without enough grace for the average driver to seriously consider. There were smaller SUVs that managed to fill certain niches like the Suzuki Vitara and Perodua Kembara but it really was the Honda CR-V that changed the way Malaysians looked at the SUV.
Now in its 4th generation and with a sea of competitors looking to dethrone it, the CR-V is a lot larger but still instantly recognisable thanks to its signature silhouette and head/taillight layout. It’s also a lot more suited to those looking for a premium vehicle as leather seats and large alloy wheels now come on higher variants.
Despite the change in the CR-V’s overall outlook, it’s still as practical as ever. This is what we learnt on a recent trip to Perak, but could it still retain its place as the king of SUVs.
Less than a year ago we test drove the updated CR-V in its 2-litre, 2WD guise (read the review here). This time however we spent the entirety of our trip in the 2.4-litre CR-V which has all the bells and whistles including Honda LaneWatch – a technology that puts the problem of the blind spot to rest. It does this by displaying a wide angle view from a camera mounted underneath the passenger side mirror whenever you signal to the right or hit a button located at the tip of the turn signal stalk.
LaneWatch is a Honda first – and despite them taking the lead in this field they’ve managed to get the execution down pretty flawlessly. There isn’t any lag from the time you move the stalk to when the screen comes on. This is clearly a refined system that fits into the Honda infotainment system without feeling ‘after market’ or like an afterthought. It’s worth noting that this feature is present on the 2.4-litre Accord as well.
Whether you opt for the 2-litre 2WD, 4WD or 2.4-litre 4WD model, the CR-V is a great choice for anyone with a small family – it’s large, practical, easy to drive, packed with technology and well made. Just take the boot space for example. It’s extra easy to get some extra space in there just by folding the rear seats flat. Most SUVs can do this, BUT Honda’s extra years in the business have taught them some neat tricks. In the CR-V, you don’t have to go to either side of the rear seat bench to fold them down. Just open the boot and you’ll find 2 levers (they look like door handles but are situated in the boot). Simply pull them and the seats fold away in a single motion.
Honda went the extra mile by providing us with samples from other Japanese competitors to see just how well the CR-V stacked up. A willing volunteer showed us just how much more usable space was available in the CR-V. Note the position of his head before the front row and feet within the trunk space. Also, the CR-V seems to havea lower, flatter luggage area in comparison.
Even with the seats up, the boot has a higher volume of 589 litres vs 550 and 403 litres on its closest rivals. The lower and wider rear opening also makes it a lot more easier to get things in and out of the boot. Plus, this allows certain items to fit in the CR-V in more orientations than in other SUVs.
Performance wise, the CR-V scores well too. Its 5-speed automatic manages to balance fuel efficiency with performance and is far less noisy than a CVT would be in a vehicle of this size and weight. The 2-litre variant does seem a bit held back, but only once you hit speeds you shouldn’t be doing.
The 2.4-litre engine on the other hand is powerful enough for us while still retaining frugality thanks to Honda’s Earth Dreams Technology. Paddle shifters were a welcome addition as well, but in an SUV, they’re not an absolute necessity. Still – it’s better to have and not need than need and not have a feature, so kudos to Honda’s product planning department there.
All-in-all, we found the CR-V still managed to top its rivals in objective tests of its practicality and usability. Starting at RM142,900 the 2-litre 2WD model has to deal with some serious competition not just from Japan but Korea as well – but because most of what makes it more practical comes as standard, it still ticks more boxes. The 2.4-litre version though seems like it takes the cake – especially when you consider just how low the depreciation is for these cars versus its competitors. One study conducted by Honda showed that the 2.4-litre version from 2013 lost only 21.67% of its value over 3 years as compared to 29.54% on its closest competitor. That’s nearly RM15,000 more value retained!
It just goes to show that Honda’s experience in the field of passenger-focused practical SUVs puts the CR-V in a league of its own. And because the CR-V is made in Malaysia, part availability is never going to be an issue. It’ll also be cheaper to maintain and replace parts as lower duties and taxes apply to locally manufactured products.
Sure, if you’ve got a small family and prefer lower fuel consumption, there are plenty of C- and D-segment vehicles that might fill your needs better. But If you’re the sort who likes little excursions that require extra cargo space (say, for bicycles or camping equipment), all-wheel drive and a higher than usual ground clearance, then SUVs are much more suitable. And by that logic, the CR-V fits into the SUV mould better than its competitors.