CHANGES to the new Honda CR-V elevate its status to among the best in the medium-sized SUV segment.
This fifth generation builds on a fine platform which deserved plaudits for functionality and ease of use, but most importantly addresses some of the outgoing model's key flaws.
Marketing states the CR-V puts "families at the centre of everything it does” and it's more than just hyperbole. Previous iterations of the SUV excelled in commonsense operations, and this new model raises the bar and also features a new turbocharged petrol engine.
The previous petrol drivetrain was underwhelming, which meant the more expensive diesel was the primary choice. This latest offering injects new life into the range-entering VTi which you can get on the road for less than $35,000.
The bottom line has risen by $900, although Honda maintains it picks up $3700 worth of extra kit.
It's hard to argue, with a seven-inch touchscreen linked to an eight-speaker sound system equipped with full Bluetooth phone and audio integration, along with the smartphone mirroring apps Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Basic gear includes dual-zone climate control, keyless entry with push button start, but it lacks a couple of the modern niceties - like automatic lights and rain sensing wipers...but they're features you could easily live without.
The driver has a colour LCD display, and there is also 17-inch alloys, twin exhaust and daytime running lamps. One of the rare inclusions is a full-size spare which sits below a cavernous boot.
Since July, all new Hondas have a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty (up from three years 100,000km). Every service is set at $295 for the first 10, but items including dust and pollen filters ($65) are required every couple of years or 30,000km, while new fluids are needed every 36 months ($222).
Raised slightly compared to the outgoing model, entry and exit is simple and easier than a sedan. The rear doors also open at near 90 degrees which is excellent for parents working to fit children into car seats or adults battling with mobility.
The much-trumpeted family friendliness comes to the fore with eight drink holders, which includes a pair in the console, another duo in the rear centre fold-down armrest and generous bottle holders in the doors.
Storage spots in the console also mean you have plenty of space for phones, audio devices and keys, while the two-tone fabric which adorns the ribbed modern-looking seats feels hardy and the pews are supportive in the right spots for long journeys.
There is also easy access to USB and 12-volt ports.
Boot space is slightly smaller than its predecessors, although the CR-V still has a space advantage over most rivals. It maintains the brilliant ability to easily drop the rear seats by pulling boot levers, perfect for flat-pack furniture or sports equipment.
On-road performance is generally quiet and responsive, boasting some urgency when you floor the accelerator. It can be flustered if you drop the hammer regularly, and the tyres can be noisy on coarse chip surfaces, but in the main the CR-V turns flat, is easy to drive and doesn't struggle when summonsed for speed - those who really want to get off the line are best to use "sport” mode.
Averaging less than seven litres for every 100km, the CR-V returned figures less than the official average from Honda. It was aided by some easy highway driving, but that's a rare occurrence when doing an everyday comparison.
An added bonus it can run on regular unleaded.
Basic equipment includes anti-lock brakes and the usual gear associated with stability control, but there are added extras like trailer stability assist, tyre pressure monitor and driver attention warnings. You have to get the most expensive models to gain forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, radar cruise and lane keeping assist and lane departure warning. Rear cross traffic alert is not available at all.
The standard rear camera has moving guidelines, although there are no parking sensors on this model.
Sharp looks and good interior space which makes it fine for family sojourns.
Not the most exciting of drives, and it's not as good as the Europeans.
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AT A GLANCE
HONDA CR-V VTI
ENGINE 1.5-litre 4-cyl 140kW/240Nm.
TRANSMISSION Continuously variable automatic.
SAFETY 6 airbags, 5 stars, rear-view camera, fatigue monitor, tyre pressure monitors, AEB not available.
THIRST 7.0 litres/100km.
WARRANTY/SERVICE 5 years/unlimited km, 12 month/10,000km intervals, $1180 over 3 years
BOOT 522L/1084L to window height