Published on March 4th, 2024 | by Subhash Nair


What We Learnt About The New Honda CR-V 1.5L V And Hybrid

Sharing our findings on the Honda CR-V 1.5L V and RS e:HEV variants from last week’s drive to Penang.

Last week, Honda Malaysia took us to Penang to try out the new Honda CR-V in two specifications – the 1.5L V spec and the RS e:HEV. The former has proven to be the most popular variant of the 6th gen CR-V, making up 45% of all units ordered while the latter was only recently given its pricing

We were able to sit down with the Large Project Leader, Eisuke Sato and the Assistant Large Project Leader, Yuki Nagafuchi to learn more about the new CR-V generation. Here are some highlights from our Q&A session after driving both units.

Eisuke Sato (left), Yuki Nagafuchi (right)

Little Innovations

While the automobile is over 100 years old, there’s still room for innovation even when it comes to minute details. Wiper blade deformation is one area that car engineers have usually ignored. For this 6th generation model, Mr Sato’s team attempted to provide a simple engineering solution to prolong the life of wiper blades, which though relatively inexpensive to replace, are a pain point for many customers.

The solution on the CR-V is to automatically change its storage position every four full cycles. This puts less stress on the wiper blade tip as it alternates between resting its tip in a downward swipe and upward swipe position. It’s a very subtle touch, but one that might make it to other Honda models if it’s found to make a big enough difference in the lives of customers.

It’s also worth noting that the hybrid model has an Active Shutter Grille, which can either open for better cooling or close for better aerodynamics. It’s pretty rare for a car of this class to put that kind of attention to detail to the little things.

In typical CR-V fashion, there are loads of storage spaces. In fact, the rear door cards are large enough to store three little water bottles. Engineers paid more attention to rear occupant comfort and it shows. The rear occupants get more legspace than ever, but now there’s more adjustability to the seat recline plus a new sliding function. Rear occupants get USB-C ports for charging and air cond vents of their own. The seats also fold down flat for more cargo space.

That being said, the cabin area is a lot more car-like than any preceeding CR-V, with a much more traditional central storage space.

The e-CVT Features Two Lock-up Positions

CVTs are fast becoming the norm in the industry for Japanese cars, but with hybrids, e-CVTs are considered the logical next step. They too simulate a seemingly infinite range of virtual gear ratios, but are even less mechanical than traditional CVTs. In the RS e:HEV models, Honda shows that there’s still tuning work that goes into these ‘e-CVTs’ and it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. 

Case-in-point, the Civic RS e:HEV and the CR-V RS e:HEV powertrains both feature different “lock-up” ratios when the 2.0L petrol motor is directly driving the wheels. In the Civic, there’s just one lock-up ratio that works across a wide range of speeds. In the CR-V, there are TWO lock-up modes, which the Project Leader dubs “lock-up low” and “lock-up high”. While he did not give us the exact gear ratios, he did share the speeds at which each lock-up ratio was used. Lock-up low is used at speeds between 39-55km/h while lock-up high is engaged at speeds above 56km/h. 

Honda CR-V RS e:HEV in blue

Turbo Vs Hybrid Are Further Apart Than You Think

While there first impression is that the 1.5L V and RS e:HEV variants are pretty closely related, there are plenty of things that set them apart and make them feel like entirely different vehicles. 

For instance, both vehicles feature Active Noise Control, which picks up noise in the cabin and produces sound waves to cancel it. However, only the RS e:HEV features Active Sound Control, which simulates a specially-developed “engine” note in Sport mode. The engineers in charge say that this Sport Mode engine sound is NOT the same used in the Civic RS e:HEV and was created and calibrated especially for the CR-V e:HEV.

Still on the topic of noise, the hybrid model’s tyres come with resonance-reducing wheels, which Honda Malaysia says just don’t fit on the turbo model, and yes they’ve apparently tried this out.

As for the Bose speaker system, it’s technically possible to outfit a non-hybrid model with it but Honda Malaysia will not be doing this. Understandable, as they’d also want to hold certain features for the flagship model. 

Additional subwoofer in the Bose system

Visually, there are lots of differences too. The hybrid models feature the RS bodykit which features “RS” badging, body colour painted bumpers and lower body cladding, black side mirror caps and antenna, roof rails, and blue-tinted Honda badges plus black rims for the exterior.

Inside, the hybrid gets red contrast stitching, a black headliner, aluminium inlays, bose branding on the front speaker grilles, a fully digital instrument cluster with accompanying hybrid animations, metal pedal finishers, and a drive mode selector.

The turbo models give you a spare tyre but this space is occupied by the battery in the hybrid. There is a puncture repair kit in its place.

In terms of drive feel too they’re worlds apart. There’s a lot to unpack but essentially the hybrid is superior in every way. It’s quieter, much more torquey and responsive, more fuel efficient and smoother too. Yes, the Turbo V spec gives you all-wheel drive, but we found that this feature was not completely necessary for the way the CR-V is meant to be driven – it is a family SUV after all.

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Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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