When you’ve sold over 8.7 million units of a model globally, it’s only natural that you’d want to keep changes barely incremental.
Since its launch in 1995, Honda has been very cautious with the updates it introduced to the CR-V, one of the most popular crossover vehicles in the world. In the US market alone, Honda has shifted over 4 million of these, and two decades since its introduction there, it still continues to be the country’s bestselling utility vehicle. So, understandably, the all-new CR-V keeps all the winning traits that made it a global success story intact. However, there are significantly more changes, cosmetic and mechanical, than the 2012 model.
So while being practical and versatile like its predecessors, the 2017 CR-V also manages to be better-looking and more comfortable and refined. The design follows Honda’s new styling language introduced in the new Civic, and is characterised by an abundance of edges and creases, which is a major departure from the curvy, rounded lines of the previous generations. In fact, the new grille and the LED headlights suit the CR-V better than it does the Civic. At the back, the taillights have been given a once-over with new boomerangish clusters replacing the vertical lamps from before. Although the CR-V has grown significantly in every dimension – it’s 15mm longer and 15mm taller than before and 35mm wider, with a 40mm longer wheelbase – the designers have managed to hide the extra bulk pretty well.
The cabin also has been thoroughly revamped, with everything from design and layout to the materials used and the workmanship representing a huge leap over the earlier iterations. In fact, it’s one of the best-built interiors in this price segment.
The seats in our Touring trim tester are well-contoured and supportive, helping in keeping fatigue minimal, even on long drives. It’s not just attractive but utilitarian as well, with a number of storage compartments in the centre console and doors.
Unlike the Accord, which has two screens on the dashboard, the CR-V has just one tablet-like screen placed centrally serving as an interface for the infotainment system, which is one of the very few weak points of this car. The controls aren’t the most intuitive, and the display is very basic. But it still serves as a monitor for the Lane Watch system, which uses a camera located in the passenger door mirror to display footage of the lanes and any vehicles that are on that side.
This effectively eliminates the blind spot, and as I’ve said before, this is one feature that every car manufacturer should start incorporating in all their vehicles.
Another disappointment is the decision to not bring the new 1.5-litre turbocharged engine to the UAE. It’s a mill that we loved in the new Civic RS, despite it being coupled with a CVT. However, that doesn’t mean the good old 2.4-litre naturally aspirated four-pot isn’t any good. It’s as smooth and refined as ever, and with 184 horsepower and 244Nm of torque, it’s got enough grunt for everything that you’d do with a CR-V. Which is not much more than driving it around town and the highways, and climbing over an odd kerb or traversing a sand lot.
Although it comes equipped with an all-wheel drive system, the CR-V is still essentially a Civic with a raised platform and a different body. But sharing its underpinnings with the Civic is a huge positive and this reflects in the way the CR-V drives. The Mac-Pherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension setup, complete with stabiliser bars fitted with bonded mounts and bushings, help the CR-V glide smoothly over any undulations on the road. Road noise and vibrations are virtually non-existent, and the quality and comfort of the ride is better than any competition from Japanese or Korean manufacturers in the segment.
And it’s priced right with the base model starting at Dh89,000.
Good-looking, easy to drive, spacious, practical and backed by Honda’s superb dependability record, the all-new CR-V is arguably the best yet. The ten-millionth one is just around the corner then.