Sunday, March 10, 2013

Honda CR-V review 2013

Honda CR-V review 2013

Compact sports utility was in its infancy when Honda reworked the Civic’s platform to underpin a soft-roader’s shell. The CR-V was available with part-time all-wheel drive from the off (although it was slyly dubbed ‘Real Time’) and hoovered up regional sales on its way to becoming a global model.

Arguably, the concept of 4x4 ruggedness has never left much of an indentation on the Honda brand, but it hasn’t needed to. The CR-V, in three previous generations, has already breached five million sales.

Yes, it’s unfortunate that our in-depth look at the new CR-V comes barely a week after Honda was forced into a huge global recall but, faulty window switches aside, the firm’s long-running SUV has lived a rather blameless life.

The model’s mingling of car-like reflexes with a 4x4’s practicality was revolutionary when it was unveiled in 1995. Now, of course, it’s the segment norm. Every significant player in the mid-market features something along similar lines and, worse still for the CR-V, premium car makers and former budget brands have got in on the act, too.

Competition comes from the expected, like the Ford Kuga, but also from Kia, Hyundai and, arguably more worrying still if you’re calculating potential volumes at Honda, from BMW and Audi.

So Honda’s job now is to keep the CR-V well respected in this bustling and pretty saturated segment of the market. To that end, this new model has received a styling rebuff to differentiate it heavily from its predecessor. More importantly, it attempts to address some of the old car’s more objective shortcomings. Let’s see how it gets on.

Remember when Honda introduced its first diesel passenger car engine? It was designed by Honda’s petrol powertrain engineers, who had pretty high standards when it came to refinement and driveability, and it showed. The Honda unit was, by comparison to its peers, hushed and responsive. Moreover, in the outgoing CR-V, it was easily the engine of choice.

But while Honda’s competitors have been furiously rewriting their own standards on quietness and responsiveness, Honda’s progress has, seemingly, slowed by comparison. It’s still refined but no longer anything like a stand-out motor in the class.

Not when you consider that this model’s price pitches it perilously close to the BMW X3 2.0-litre diesel, whose drivetrain would give the Honda a particularly thorough shoeing.

That’s also true when it comes to the amount of power it delivers. The BMW has 181bhp, the CR-V just 148bhp, backed by 258lb ft of torque. That’s enough to propel this automatic CR-V to 60mph in 9.7sec, which is respectable but no more than that.

The Hyundai Santa Fe we tested recently completed the dash 0.7sec quicker and also featured one more ratio in its automatic gearbox than the five that grace the CR-V. Still, the Honda shifts between gears cleanly and responds keenly to pulls on the steering-wheel-mounted paddles.

A return of 44.7mpg on a touring run and 36.1mpg overall are not shabby for a car of this girth, even if the four-wheel-drive elements of the drivetrain are mostly unengaged.

Braking performance is very good in the dry, with the CR-V needing just 2.51sec and 45.6m to come to rest from 60mph and 70mph respectively (another 0.3sec and 3m are perfectly acceptable). Its wet weather stopping performance is less impressive, but not to the point of disappointment.