When I reviewed the diesel-powered CR-V SX this year, it drew flak from internet-lingering car buyers in one small yet very important aspect: its price. It didn't matter to people whether it’s among the most fuel-efficient vehicles in the market today, or that it has a slew of tech features that could put KITT from the Knight Rider TV Series to shame. A high price tag means a lot for most people, especially when compared to the rest of its segment.
However, if you’re among those who wanted the fuel efficiency of the CR-V but wishes it at a smaller sticker price, look no further – there’s a CR-V S Diesel mid-variant available, and it’s just as equally amazing as the range-topper.
Aesthetically, the mid-variant CR-V S Diesel isn’t too far from the top-of-the-line SX. In fact, you would only need to sacrifice two things: the high beam support system, which automatically toggles the headlamps to high beam when there are no vehicles up front, and the power tailgate. So essentially, they’re pretty much the same when seen side by side. Even the Passion Red Pearl and Luna Silver Metallic are exclusively offered to both S and SX variants.
The beefy exterior, wide stance, and emphatic fascia are all carried over to the mid variant – and that includes the 18-inch alloy wheels that we totally dig. Even the full LED head- and fog-lamps are there, along with the good-looking LED taillights that are present throughout the CR-V range. Although, I honestly find the lot of accents and details a bit too busy on the eyes. Nevertheless, the sharp LED daytime running lights that underline the headlamps are a pleasure to look at.
In a consumer’s point of view, this means that if you like how the CR-V looks, there wouldn’t be any visible difference if you would opt for the mid-variant; you just have to give up some convenience, which we are totally okay without.
Inside, the minimal differences between the CR-V S and SX variants continue. The mid-variant has the plush and premium feel of a range-topper. It has the wooden accents on the dashboard and by the door panels, as well as the lever-less gear shifter box right at the center.
I really like how it feels when seated inside the CR-V, especially in the driver seat. The buttons and knobs are all within arm’s reach, while the controls are intuitive and easy to use. The infotainment system boasts a seven-inch touchscreen colored display that's easy to the eyes and can be paired up with smartphones via Bluetooth or USB input.
I most certainly appreciate the presence of a volume knob, which can also be controlled via the touch-sensitive volume controls by the steering wheel. This feature, which can also be found on the Civic and the Civic Type R, is a trip, while still having the option to press buttons if you prefer it that way. USB charging ports are abundant inside the car – two in the front cabin and two for the second row.
Comfort is one of the CR-V’s strongest suits, which is brought about by the car’s spacious front and second-row cabin. The third row isn’t as roomy, even with the slidable second row, but it’s enough to keep someone standing 5’6” to be cozy maybe up to two hours of riding. Trunk space is also abundant and flexible, especially when the second- and third-row seats are folded flat on the floor. You could probably fit an entire washing machine inside if you wanted to with its 967L of total cargo space.
Among the things that make the CR-V so comfortable are its soft-leather seats that are found up to the last row. The ribbed and perforated texture keeps your buttocks in place and makes the material breathable. The automatic climate control is also like clockwork and does a very good job of keeping the entire vehicle cool even amidst intense sun exposure.
The CR-V’s McPherson-front-Multi-link-rear suspension setup is also commendable. As it is a monocoque vehicle, the car isn’t bouncy yet it can still absorb considerable road imperfections without impacting the occupants. There’s body roll at speeds, yes, but it’s less than what you could feel body-on-frame SUVs. You could probably try a little light off-road stint, but I don’t really recommend that as this variant isn’t all-wheel drive.
Other things not found in the S variant that are available in the SX variant are the Honda Sensing system – the set of high-tech features that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, low speed follow, forward collision warning, and auto braking for emergencies. What is left, however, is the lane watch, which replaces blind spot detection with a camera that shows you a live view of the vehicle’s right side. It’s perfectly usable under various driving conditions.
The CR-V’s power plant, its first diesel iteration, is among the best out there when it comes to power delivery, performance, and fuel efficiency. As I’ve mentioned before, the 1.6L displacement of the engine may sound minute for this compact crossover’s size, but it really isn’t with its turbocharged power output.
This diesel engine is responsive to every accelerator input, and feeds the front wheels with 120 metric horses via the nine-speed automatic transmission – and it does so in great precision. The numerous gear ratios are advantageous in power delivery, as if it knows when you wanted to drive relaxed or you’re in a rush to get to your destination. The best part is, the 300 Nm of torque are felt as early as 2,000 RPM, giving you enough pull when you actually need it. Although, downshifting via the paddle shifters has a bit of a delay.
With this engine behavior, the CR-V S registered outstanding fuel efficiency numbers that could even outdo smaller entry-level hatchbacks in the market today. Heavy in-city traffic clocked in 10.3 km/L, while faster paces at around 60 km/h registered 18.8 km/L. The highway runs, with cruise control nailed at 90 km/h, gave out a 24 km/L reading. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.
Driving is relatively easy with the CR-V despite its size. It stays planted in the highway, while city maneuvers are painless with the light steering feel. There’s also a wide forward visibility brought about by the huge windows. There’s a reverse camera and sensors available if you need to back up. All wheels are fitted with disc brakes that bite like a pitbull.
With all these things considered, going for the mid-variant CR-V S Diesel isn’t a bad decision at all. In fact, it might even be the better call, especially if you’re the type that isn’t so much for super high-tech features that the range-topping variant can offer. At P1,858,000, this variant is well-specced, so much so that I want to thank the product planning department of Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) for including this variant in the CR-V range and keeping it a well-rounded vehicle. It’s a solid choice, and a better choice within the market is a luxury that car buyers will certainly appreciate.