A Mother's Love
As hard as it is for me to admit, the all-new CR-V ain't the prettiest crossover around. It has a flattened nose, hunched back, and is slightly disproportioned with its small anterior and huge posterior. In fact, some of my friends thought that it was downright ugly. But after staring at it for quite some time, it starts to grow on you, and you'll begin to see its lovely features.
The three-tier front grill reminds me of a man's razor, and the projector headlights that wrap around it sparkle like a jewel, which in a way, is a creative mix of masculinity and femininity. But if only they had encrusted it with LED daytime running lights. Instead, the rather dull yellow park lights do this duty and, from my experience, cannot be turned off. The LED side mirror-mounted turn lamps, however, is a nice touch. And despite its inability to go off-road, the plastic lower body cladding makes it look a bit tougher.
I was never a fan of beige interiors, so the all-new CR-V's all black trim suits me perfectly. The ultra-plush seats are covered in velvety black fabric, while the dashboard and door cards are made from soft-touch plastic. Likewise, the dark gauges and its white lettering mimic a fancy black dial wristwatch, which not only looks great but is also very easy to read even under direct sunlight. Silver trims and buttons and dark wood panels were then added all over the interior to give it some zest.
Both rows of seats are pretty big and offer lots of lumbar and leg support. Honda is also quite generous on legroom, with lots of knee space left at the back even if someone tall sits in front. And having truly mastered the art of folding seats (see Honda Jazz ULT seats), the CR'V's 60/40 split rear seats folds flat and open up effortlessly like origami. This is a big plus when compared to other crossovers that require quite a lot of muscle to get their rear benches to collapse.
Loading heavy items at the back is a breeze with the CR-V's large hatch and low cargo floor. And even without folding the rear seats flat, there's more than enough room to fit in a couple luggage bags and pasalubong.
The sunroof is exclusive to this 2.4L EX model, but I never truly quite understood the practical use of this feature in the Philippines' tropical climate. The i-MID (intelligent Multi-Information Display) system, on the other hand, is quite helpful. While the steering wheel-mounted controls takes a bit of getting used to, it'll happily display details on audio, fuel economy, and vehicle settings. Plus, the 5-inch LCD display's welcome screen and wallpaper are fully-customizable.
Hondas are supposed to be mean driving machines and give that distinctive seat-of-the-pants thrill. But when I finally got to drive the all-new CR-V, the urge to put pedal-to-the-metal was just not there. Instead, it drove so pleasantly that I simply decided to enjoy the relaxing drive.
Ride comfort was supple and the suspension soaked up even the worst of road imperfections really well. Still, it was solid enough to keep this crossover calm well above the speed limit and gave proper road feedback. On the contrary, the electronic power steering was a little too light and felt disconnected with the front wheels. Feel free to disagree, but I sorta liked it because it made steering duties a bit easier and a lot less tiring.
The four-cylinder 2.4L DOHC i-VTEC engine purred quietly and had plenty of torque at low rpm's. And despite not having a more “modern” CVT or six gears, the new five-speed automatic transmission proved to be just as effective. In fact, shifts were seamless and provided a good balance between power and fuel economy. The revs stayed below 2,000 rpm when cruising at 100 km/h; and if the onboard computer was accurate, we were doing as much as 16 km per liter of fuel. I think we could even reach 17 or 18 km/L with the help of cruise control. It was as impressive in city driving, where we were able to achieve 9 km/L. Just so that you know, we didn't see any difference with the ECON mode on or off.
Letting it Rip
Sitting high above traffic, the all-new CR-V is easy to maneuver around jam-packed streets. It is impossible though to see the edges of the front bumper with its steeply-raked windshield and sloped hood. You'll have to be very good at guesstimating where they are to avoid nasty bumps and scrapes. But most new cars have this drawback anyway, so there's no point complaining. The small rear windshield also somewhat hampers rear visibility, but this version comes with a back-up camera which makes parking in reverse a breeze.
The 182 horsepower and 220 Nm of torque would be such a waste if were just nannying it around town. So when we finally reached a patch of twisty road down South, we decided to give it some stick. Lo and behold, the 2.4L powerplant packed quite a punch, and engine revved high like a true Honda should. Though body roll seemed quite excessive for a low slung crossover and there's a slight delay in throttle response, handling was pretty sharp and it felt nimble going through bends. It's not exactly what I'd all sporty, but it does the job real nice.
In spite of all its shortcomings, I find no real fault with the all-new CR-V. It rides well, drives well, and has loads of interior and trunk space. This top-of-the-line 2.4L version is also advertised to come with 4WD, but only activates when needed. That means its fuel efficiency is comparable to a front wheel drive sedan.
There are so many crossovers out in the market today, but none of them quite get the formula as well as Honda. I really think that this is the perfect all-around vehicle for daily rounds to the office or mall and out of town road trips. Okay, it might not be THAT quick or THAT pretty, but it works. The only thing you'll have to work around with is this Japan-built model's steep P1,655,000 price tag; because for that kind of money, you can already get a pretty nice seven-seater SUV.