Honda CR-V 2.2i-DTEC Elegance AT
In alphabetical order, the Honda is first to fall under the spotlight. This particular vehicle was TopCar’s long-term test car and reported on monthly between June 2013 and May 2014. Overall, the year-long experience proved to be pleasurable and helped the editorial team choose the CR-V as its 2014 Best Buy Compact SUV/SAV. It was the world’s best-selling SUV in the first quarter of 2014, and American magazine Motor Trend recently voted the CR-V as its 2015 SUV of the Year, so it has all the right credentials to serve as a benchmark here.
CR-V reaches its 20th birthday in 2015 and the latest model is the fourth generation. Compared with the previous model that was often criticised for its rather dumpy, pointed snout looks, this one has less of a rounded shape and from the rear even has (dare we say it?) hints of Volvo altogether a generic SUV shape fronted by the familiar Honda ‘face’.
The Elegance auto model is one rung down from range-topping Exclusive and retails for R473900 (a six-speed manual version is R16500 less). Launched at the end of 2012, the new CR-V’s 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine was unchanged from the previous generation but its 110kW at 4000rpm and 350Nm of torque at 2000rpm were transmitted through a differently calibrated five-speed autobox. A selectable Econ mode helps elicit a real-world fuel consumption improvement from the mid-8s to mid-7 litres/100km: the official figure is 7.0/100km. Given the Honda’s conservative persona, it is a bit of a surprise to find a Sport mode for the transmission complete with paddle shifters, the only one here to offer this selector feature. But, typically, the transmission is more than capable if left to its own devices. Alloy wheels are shod with 225/65R17 rubber
On paper, the premium priced CR-V is not overly specced and if you consider such relative cheapskate items as a manual-adjust driver’s seat, a single CD player and a manual dipping interior mirror, the rest of the vehicle’s attributes need to be strong enough to outweigh these ‘negatives’. But it does boast all the expected creature comforts such as front and rear PDC, hill hold and heated front seats, and was not seen to be lacking any vital components.
Inside, the layout of the front of the cabin is perhaps not as friendly as before but it is still a pleasant environment with comfortable seats and very easy to understand controls and instruments. The climate control is effective and has outlets at the rear of the floor console for the benefit of rear passengers. And as these vehicles are designed for families, at the back the split bench seat has a wide fold-down centre armrest and provides adequate seating for three if necessary. The seating position is higher than the fronts but the head restraints limit forward visibility. Lateral vision through the tinted side (privacy) glass is excellent. Backrest angle is adjustable. One-pull levers in the luggage area release and fold flat each section of the seat. Boot capacity is 556 litres, the biggest here, and there is a full-size alloy spare under the floor.
With its straightforward and well-proven powertrain, performance-wise the CR-V is never going to be the class leader but its engine is strong, especially in the mid range where the five gear ratios prove sufficient to keep revs on the torque plateau without lots of up/downshifts. Four-wheel drive application is part-time: basically front-wheel drive, the rears automatically and seamlessly receive drive once front wheelspin is detected. Ground clearance is ample for routine off-roading but the CR-V is unashamedly not designed for really serious bundu-bashing: in fact, it epitomises the crossover concept.