It takes special things to get noticed in the small, soft-roading SUV segment these days. Special things such as clever storage nooks, flexible seating and lots of cupholders.
Trivial things like all-wheel drive systems and engine power are, well, less important than they used to be.
Honda’s CR-V, since its launch in 1995, has always ranked high on the convenience features-o-meter, but the new, fourth-generation version launched in South Africa last week ticks some of the boxes that its predecessors missed.
For the first time (in our market anyway) the CR-V is now available in a lower spec, front-wheel drive only model that shaves about R40 000 off the price - making for an entry-level CR-V that comes in just under the key R300 000 mark.
This 2.0 Comfort model doesn’t feel like a cheap, stripped-down effort, and other than the lack of leather upholstery it gets much of what’s included in upper-level CR-Vs.
Sure, you’re sacrificing extras such as parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights, adaptive cruise control, heated seats and the ability to bundu bash, but as proven by some popular two-wheel drive Korean rivals, this is entirely acceptable.
In the centre of the Comfort’s dash you’ll find the same colour 125mm screen that displays entertainment and trip data as in higher-specced Elegance, Executive and Exclusive CR-Vs. At R299 900 the FWD 2.0 Comfort with 114kW and 192Nm feels almost as classy as its more expensive siblings inside.
The new CR-V comes in seven other well-appointed variations, with two petrol engine choices, one turbodiesel, and each with all-wheel drive.
Also tweaked is the 2.4-litre i-Vtec petrol engine, which is the same one used in the Accord sedan. Older CR-Vs with this engine were downtuned, but this time Honda’s brought power up by 18kW to 140kW and 220Nm, which is closer to the Accord.
The 110kW/350Nm 2.2 i-Dtec turbodiesel is unchanged power-wise, but was unavailable for test at the media launch in Cape Town.
The new CR-V gets a clever new rear seat folding mechanism that’s activated from one-touch levers in the boot, and there’s 25 litres more space (now 589) than before. The front seats are lower and positioned closer to the sides so that it’s easier to get in and out, which in turn liberates more space for the centre console, which now houses three cupholders.
It’s also quieter inside because of new door seals and sound-deadening material, and the bonnet’s been designed so that drivers can see more of it.
Basically, the CR-V’s improved in every area that counts. The petrol engines are still a little weak, though. - Star Motoring
2.0 Comfort FWD manual (petrol) - R299 900
2.0 Comfort AWD auto (petrol) - R339 900
2.4 Elegance AWD auto (petrol) - R399 900
2.4 Executive AWD auto (petrol) - R444 900
2.2 Elegance AWD manual (diesel) - R405 900
2.2 Elegance AWD auto (diesel) - R418 900
2.2 Exclusive AWD manual (diesel) - R486 900
2.2 Exclusive AWD auto (diesel) - R499 900