2018 Honda CR-V: First Drive Review

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Honda has made the fifth-gen CR-V available for the Indian market. How does it feel to get behind the new CR-V's steering wheel? Here is our 2019 Honda CR-V test drive review to answer all your questions

Prologue

When the first Honda CR-V went on sale in the Indian market in 2001, it was nothing more than a normal SUV that drives like a car. Over three generations in India, the CR-V nameplate, albeit arguably the most favourite SUV worldwide, sadly witnessed a slack demand with only 17,600 units registered in the cumulative sales volume. Quite clearly, the Honda CR-V needs something new.

Back in October 2018, the Honda CR-V staged a big comeback with the fifth-generation SUV going on sale in India at the price starting from Rs 28.15 Lakh (ex-showroom). After launch, the new-gen model has been a big hit in the segment, especially for its diesel configuration. The Japanese carmaker was aware that almost 90% of the premium crossover and SUV buyers seems to have a strong preference for diesel power rather than other fuels. Besides, virtually all buyers turn out to be more in favour of a seven-seat layout SUV at the very most. From this, unsurprisingly, Honda has finally introduced the next-gen CR-V with a diesel engine option added in the lineup and, yes, the third row of seats, too. In this article, we’re working on an in-depth first-drive review of the 2018 Honda CR-V that will present you everything to know about the new vehicle.

Evolutionary Design

It is quite clear that the 2018 Honda CR-V comes to fulfil the main goals of improving the dynamics of the SUV over the old one. Unlike the previous-gen model, the latest-gen CR-V is totally driven by charismatics. Based on the company’s evolutionary design philosophy, the all-new CR-V looks fresher and more aggressive than its predecessor thanks to the introduction of an imposing sharp front grille, sportier full-LED headlamps as well as an exquisitely-crafted hood with neat creases. That said, the LED headlights combined with prominent daytime running lights now come to merge perfectly with the upper chrome grille in the nose.

 2018 Honda CR-V Dimensions & Weight
   2WD Petrol  2WD Diesel  4WD Diesel
 Length  4952 mm
 Width  1855 mm 
 Height  1679 mm  1679 mm  1689 mm
 Wheelbase  2660 mm
 Curb Weight  1545 kg  1666 kg  1725 kg
 Fuel Tank  57 litres
 Seating Capacity  5  7 
 Boot Space  522, 1084 litres (2nd row folded)  150, 472 litres (3rd Row Folded), 936 litres (2nd and 3rd Row Fold)

Though the SUV looks quite similar to the outgoing model from the side, the sleeker shoulder line with the extended wheelbase, all in all, gives the SUV slightly noticeable styling distinctions as against the older version. It may come as a little surprise that the side profile of the car sees a generous utilization of chrome accents, all the ways to level up the overall premium quotient to a higher extent. In the full flesh, you will find the car assertive and confident due to the presence of large 18-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels along with a set of more squared-off wheel arches.

While the side profile of the new CR-V shows a tremendous connection with the outgoing generation, the rear-end looks more different with L-shaped full-LED taillights and the removal of the split-tailgate. However, note that the new-gen CR-V still inherits the low-loading lip from the earlier version, which is, true, very complimented when having heavy luggage.

Sophisticated and Feature-laden Cabin

Like in the exterior aesthetics, the interior of the 2018 Honda CR-V looks fresh too. Compared to the fourth-gen model, the fifth-gen CR-V’s cabin design is apparently more upmarket. The smart use of mixed materials is a big highlight of the car’s craftsmanship, for example, premium chromes and woods are used generously around the corners of the dashboard.

In an effort to build a comfort-focused cabin in place of the outgoing flashy looking unit, Honda has introduced a more spacious SUV which entails ample legroom and headroom for the passengers at every place. Other than that, the cabin treatment of the SUV is not only premium but better-loaded with a range of high-end features as well. Standing out on the inside is a premium wood-garnished sophisticated dashboard which houses a 7-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system placed in the middle. It is compatible with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay for a more convenient usage but misses out on navigation. However, the size of the touchscreen is a bit letdown of sorts for users and it could be further enhanced by a slightly bigger display instead.

2019 Honda CR-V: Convenience and Comfort
  •  Steering-mounted cruise control
  •  Tilt and Telescopic Steering
  •  Smart entry system with push start/stop button
  •  Dual zone automatic temperature control on Panel & Display Audio
  •  Remote engine starter (for petrol only)
  •  Rear AC vents mounted on the centre console
  •  Paddle shifter ( for diesel only)
  •  Remote opening and closing windows, sunroof
  •  Rear wiper and washer
  •  Rear windscreen defogger
  •  Power adjustable and folding for door mirrors
  •  Interior ambient lighting
  •  Glove box light and cargo light
  •  All windows auto Up/Down with Anti-Pinch
  •  Bottle holder and door pocket on all doors
  •  2.5 A rear USB charging ports (x2)
  •  Grab Rails (x 4)

On the other hands, the instrument cluster with a horizontally-placed tachometer seems like a reminiscent of the long-time-ago design language while the temperature and fuel indicator seems to be passed over directly from the legendary Star Trek franchise. Furthermore, the instrument panel gets a new display which is quite clear with large fonts. From this screen, telltale information will be exposed to us and also, a driver’s attention monitor system is integrated to send alerts in case we’re drowsy. Besides, it also comes with a camera mounted in the left exterior wing mirror that provides an 80 degree-view of the left side which could be of help in busy and stop-and-go traffic.

The overall cabin is large and airy while the driver and co-driver seats are optimally comfortable with premium ivory leather. It gets power adjustability for driver seat and manual controls for the passenger seat. The dark top half and light roll out an ample effect for the leg room while the leg space is truly spacious. However, it will fit anyone who is shorter than 5’10’’, while the other taller will probably need extra head space to be able to sit well at the rear. Note that it’s an issue for the diesel version merely. Additionally, it also causes some irritations for the rear passengers by the positioning of AC vents at the back seats. People who are higher than 5'10'' might hit their heads on the roof easily.

The fifth-gen CR-V diesel is a perfect family-on-the-go grand seven-seat SUV for the Indian car fanatics, it’s true. But the presence of the third row of seats is occasionally annoying too. In truth, getting into-out of these seats might cause some issues since the entire period of folding down the mid-row seats and flipping it away takes much time. More than that, the legroom in the rear seats is a little small as well. Over and above, the diesel-powered 2018 Honda CR-V offers around 150-litres of boot lid when all the seats are in place. This fair amount of space could be expanded up to 472 litres when having the third row folded down and to 936 litres by folding both the third and second rows too. In the meantime, the petrol version enables 522-litres of boot space with all rows up which can be boosted to a decent 1084 litres of cargo capacity by folding down the middle row.

Frugal Engine and Stellar Performance

As we all know, the 2018 Honda CR-V is available with both diesel and petrol engine options including a DOHC i-DTEC turbo diesel motor and a SOHC i-VTEC petrol mill. The former uses a 1.6-litre diesel burner that is good for a maximum power of 120 PS at 4,000 r/m along with a fairly decent torque of 300 Nm at 2,000 r/m. That said, these figures make the new Honda CR-V diesel substantially less potent than most of its competitors in the segment as yet. Although the new-gen CR-V diesel makes do with its high performance, it completely impresses us with the refinement it has to offer.

Honda proudly marketed its 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel motor as an engineering marvel and well, it’s not an exaggeration. On the intercity travel or highway commuting, you will never feel the shortage of outright energy thanks to the ZF-sourced 9-speed automatic gearbox with an advanced shift by wire supports. Of course, more gears will allow you better efficiency and this 9-speed unit give us seamless transmission alongside every move and turn. The car accelerates quite confidently with short initial ratios while the taller and higher ones make the car an easy mile-muncher. However, at the speed-up overtaking movement, the lack of outright power is now undeniable. Despite that, the diesel-running Honda CR-V’s buyers still highly appreciate the car’s smoothness and insignificant turbo lag. The all-new CR-V diesel returns an ARAI-rated fuel mileage of 19.5 km/l for the 2WD version and 18.3 km/l for the 4WD variants.

Regarding the petrol engine option, the 2018 Honda CR-V employs a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol powertrain churning out a max power of 154 PS at 6,500 r/m and a max torque of 189 Nm at 4,300 r/m. This mill is equipped with Honda’s signature 6-speed Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). With this engine, the overall performance is adequate. Though the 6-speed CVT unit gives away nice experience, it still incurs some dreaded rubber brand effect while applying the hard throttle. Like the earlier version, the petrol engine-transmission combo is also specially made for city travelling and highway cruising and all. It can let driver clock at the speed of 100 km/h at 2,000 r/m which offers brilliant efficiency on the go.

As we’ve said earlier, the diesel Honda CR-V is offered with both 2WD and AWD drivetrain system, whereas the petrol variant is available with a 2WD format solely. It claims an ARAI-certified fuel mileage of 14.4 km/l.

2018 Honda CR-V: Engine Specifications
    2WD Petrol  2WD Diesel  4WD Diesel
 Engine Type  4 Cylinder, SOHC i-VTEC  4 Cylinder, DOHC i-DTEC 
 Displacement  1997 cc  1597 cc
 Max Power  154 PS @ 6500 r/m  120 PS @ 4000 r/m
 Max Torque  189 Nm @ 4300 r/m  300 Nm @ 2000 r/m
 Transmission  CVT  9-speed AT
 Fuel Mileage  14.4 km/l  19.5 km/l  18.3 km/l
 Suspension

 Front: McPherson Strut, Coil Spring

 Rear: Multilink, Coil Spring

 Brake

 Front: Disc

 Rear: Disc

 Steering System

 Type: Dual Pinion Variable Ratio Electric Power Assisted  Rack & Pinion

 Turning Radius: 5.5 mm

 Tyres and Wheels

 Wheel: 18 x 7.5 J Alloy

 Tyre: Tubeless Radial Ply, 235/60 R18

Excellent Ride and Handling

The biggest highlight in the 2018 Honda CR-V lies in its excellent ride quality. Gliding over the curves and undulations is now effortless and stress-free. Thanks to the selective dampers in the car’s suspension, the new-gen SUV manages to deal with bigger potholes hands down while taking the corners over the undulation on highways with ease. Nevertheless, the handling is a little stiffer and less responsive than that of some German competitors in the segment, to say the least.

More importantly, the all-wheel-drive system comes to tip the balances at 1,725 kg with the powerful disc brakes on the four wheels, all the way up to control the car’s lean and body roll. The 2WD, on the other hand, is lighter than the AWD version and you can feel it bouncier right on the way. But overall, it still manages to offer stability on the drive.

All-in-all

The entry-level Honda CR-V gets a price tag of Rs 28.15 Lakh which goes up to Rs 32.75 Lakh for the fully-loaded top-end diesel variant (all prices, ex-showroom). Undoubtedly, the fifth-gen Honda CR-V reflects a dramatic improvement over the previous-gen model. With additional essential safety kits, the new CR-V is not only more modern and compelling but also a lot safer than ever before. Most importantly, it is considered the strongest step that the Japanese carmaker has taken by an excellent diesel engine option, premium cabin and third row of seats.

Also Read - Specification Comparison: 2018 Honda CR-V Vs Rivals

That said, the arrival of new CR-V has posed major threats to its direct market rivals in the SUVs segment. Mostly, yes, it makes senses and other contenders have some clues to bother with. In fact, the CR-V has stayed at the front of the wish list, mostly for big families in India. High fuel mileage, plush interiors and powerful power and torque work just fine to make it a redoubtable opponent for the smaller Hyundai Tucson or the bigger yet more expensive Skoda Kodiaq. Even it can lure away a set of buyers from the bigger SUVs like Ford Endeavour, especially for those who are looking for a viable alternative to hang out the city.

>>> Visit our New Cars page for more information and updates about the upcoming cars and the out-going car models.

Also Read - Honda CR-V Petrol or Diesel: Which one is most suitable for you?

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