2018 Honda CR-V Review
A new Honda CR-V has arrived, giving the company ammunition to tackle dominant rivals such as the Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson and Toyota RAV4. This redesigned and altogether more sophisticated model is the latest – and arguably most important – part of Honda’s product-led revival, joining the still-new Civic sedan and hatch, and smaller HR-V. The new range comes in four levels of specification, and is available with front- or all-wheel drive and a solitary turbo-petrol engine offering. It’s bigger and more spacious than its already capacious predecessor, and also comes available for the first time with seven seats.
The 2018 CR-V comes standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic climate control, a 5.0-inch LCD center display screen with Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, one USB charging port, a multi-information drivers display, and a six-way manual adjustable driver’s seat. The EX model adds a power moonroof, fog lights, push-button start, heated front seats, and a 7.0-inch center display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The EX-L includes a 12-way power driver’s seat, four-way power passenger’s seat, leather upholstery and an automatic dimming rearview mirror. The top Touring model comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a hands-free power liftgate with programmable height, LED headlights with auto on/off, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and a 330-watt premium audio system. If you’re seeking bolder styling, opt for the available body side moldings and 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels.
Looks are subjective, but the new CR-V is in this writer’s opinion the best-looking (non-NSX) Honda in some time. Where the Civic and HR-V are needlessly fussy, this is clean, contemporary and handsome.
The wheelbase is longer, reducing overhangs. The rear wheel arches are flared, the windows are raked (yet still big), the bonnet is stylised and the vertical tail-lights are even pretty spunky. It has presence, a squat stance and good proportions. All models have LED daytime running lights, too, though only the VTi-LX gets LED headlights.
There’s also a new electric power steering system, new fluid-filled suspension bushes and what appears to be more noise-deadening insulation, and greater sealing of gaps. Also standard is an electric parking brake with automatic brake hold to stop you creeping around town, and an Active Noise Control system sort of like noise-cancelling headphones that keeps out road and wind noise.
The engine is matched as standard to a CVT-style automatic gearbox (with paddles on the two highest grades) designed to reduce cost, weight and emissions. In base models it channels engine torque to the front wheels, but higher grades come with an on-demand all-wheel drive (AWD) system.
It’s an acceptable engine, good for a base model and about acceptable for the more expensive grades, getting the circa 1600kg (varies by variant) CR-V rolling along without protest under load and offering decent rolling response. The AWD system is quite clever. Uncommonly, the car can take off from the line in all-paw mode to maximise initial traction. It’s only at speed in nice conditions where the car reverts to FWD. The sensors on board re-send torque rearward (up to 40 per cent total) when slip up front is detected.
The 2018 Honda CR-V received the highest overall safety rating from the NHTSA of five stars, and the crossover is considered an IIHS 2017 Top Safety Pick+. The highest award of Top Safety Pick+ was issued because the CR-V scored the highest rating of Good in all five crash test evaluations, the highest rating of Superior for front crash prevention, and scored the second highest rating of Acceptable for the headlights evaluation.
The Superior rating for front crash prevention was issued because the CR-V properly warned the driver of a possible collision and avoided frontal collisions in 12- and 25-mph tests thanks to the optional Collision Mitigation Braking System found in the Honda Sensing package that is standard on the EX trim and above.
Other safety features include the standard multi-angle rearview camera system, automatic high beams, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitoring with Cross Traffic Monitor.
Additional features include said seven seats with airbag protection for the rearmost row, plus genuine luxuries such as a panoramic sunroof, leather-appointed seat trim, heated front seats, eight-way adjustable electric driver seat with lumbar support and memory, automatic rain-sensing wipers and third-row ceiling vents.
Ride and Performace
While still firmly in the ‘soft-roader’ mould suited to snowy trails or gravel, it’s also worth pointing out that the CR-V’s ground clearance is up substantially to 208mm, higher than most key rivals bar the (210mm) X-Trail.
The chassis is a new design, with Honda citing a need to bring more agile and confidence-inspiring handling to the picture, while retaining plushness in the ride. The balancing act has been done quite deftly. There’s some controlled body roll through corners, but the positive trade off is a generally excellent level of ride compliance, and good isolation from sharp hits.
The suppression of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) is good for the class, while the steering has a very fast action. There’s now only 2.2 turns lock-to-lock (down a full revolution), meaning less arm-waving in town and quicker responses at speed.
The CR-V is not a corner-carver like a Tiguan or CX-5, but its ride quality is first rate, and the body control/handling is safe and predictable. There are no pretensions here, which we admire.
Performance could have been a bit better and there are likely to be other similar-sized alternatives available for less money. But, even as things stand, the CR-V offers so much car for the money, it’s likely to be quite popular. And then there’s the fact that it will appeal to those who will look at it as an easier-to-drive, less bulky alternative to a Toyota Fortuner. And that could be a game-changer for Honda. The large three-row Honda Pilot offers up to 83.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which is not too much more than the CR-V’s impressive 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space.