Honda’s greatest turning point in 2017 wasn’t the launch of Civic Type R in the Philippines. Sure, it was a blockbuster material, something car nuts really raved about.
However, the people that aren’t in the market of the first legit red-badged Civic aren’t really looking for fancy sport cars. With the evident popularity of crossovers and midsize SUVs, majority of car-buyers are looking for a vehicle that can go anywhere, and do a lot of things without compromising fuel efficiency and comfort.
With that, a 7-seater diesel-fed CR-V was the best thing that Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) brought to the local market last year. HCPI knew that the consumer interest for diesel cars has been on the rise at the turn of the millennium, and boy, it was dead-right about it. The company’s all-new compact crossover sold 2,799 units in 2017 despite being brought in the latter part of the year.
Although, one might argue that the 2018 CR-V’s 1.6L Intelligent Diesel Technology Electronic Control (i-DTEC) turbocharged engine is a bit small for its almost-midsize SUV proportions. I would have said the same, initially, considering that its output of maximum 120 hp is similar to what the smaller Honda cars like the City, Mobilio, BR-V, and Jazzcan produce. But jumping into conclusions isn’t really my thing; not until HCPI lent its top-of-the-line Honda SENSING-equipped SX variant for an in-depth review.
Surprisingly, the CR-V delivers enough force to pull its 1,732-kg weight – on every road type and even when fully-loaded. The acceleration is linear, with the power evenly spread throughout its 9-speed gear range. It’s not punchy as you would expect from a diesel with 300 Nm of torque. Rather, the power delivery is smooth and reserved; it’s right there when you need it. It would be nice, though, if the paddle shifting gets a little refinement, as there was a bit of delay when downshifting.
With that engine behavior, the CR-V is as frugal as a guy saving up for his upcoming wedding. It clocked in 10.1 km/l on dreadful EDSA morning rush, while faster pace at 60 km/h average consumed 18.1 km/l. Highway run was at 23.3 km/l with the cruise control nailed at 90 km/h. With these figures, which were thriftier than some entry-level hatchbacks and sedans, I didn’t feel the need to use the green Eco button at all.
Speaking of cruise control, you’ll enjoy the CR-V’s adaptive type that’s actually a pride of the Honda SENSING technology. It makes daily expressway trips easy as it does the braking and accelerating for you, unlike the usual cruise controls seen in other cars.
The salt to the dish is its Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) that keeps you in the middle of the lane, as long as the system recognizes the broken lines on the road. The braking distance feels safe, too, even when set to the nearest possible clearance from the car in front.
Best part of CR-V’s adaptive cruise control is that it’s actually usable amidst heavy city traffic. Dubbed as Low Speed Follow (LSF), you can engage it as soon as the car moves, setting it at 30 km/h. It needs a little refinement, though, as Metro Manila drivers and riders (not all) are unforgiving, constantly cutting in and out of your lane which drives the proximity sensors crazy. Nevertheless, it’s a very useful and cool feature for everyday driving. There’s also a brake hold function for stop-and-go situations.
I kid you not, even with a small foot injury, I was able to survive a whole day of driving in Metro Manila with these driver-assistance systems. Future CR-V owners must take note, though, that these features were made to assist only; they should still keep their hands on the wheel and their foot at bay.
With its size, the 2018 CR-V is easy to handle even on tight streets. The high seating position lets you see more, while steering feels light but a bit simulated. Also, instead of the usual blind spot warning, what this crossover has is Lane Watch — a live view of two to three lanes at the car’s right hand side. It automaically engages when you use your turn signals before turning right or through toggling the button at the tip of the stick.
The 2018 CR-V is also equipped with an always-on all-wheel drive system that decides on itself which wheel needs more torque. Before this in-depth review, I was able to test it in an overnighter hosted by HCPI. There, the all-new CR-V proved that it’s one badass crossover that can do things its segment isn’t really designed for, such as conquering dirt, mud, and sand. The all-wheel drive system worked seamlessly, along with its soft suspension and stiffer platform.
All those high-tech features is paired with the CR-V’s notable cabin comfort and amenities. From pseudo-wood trims to perforated leather-clad power-adjustable seats to a full-color TFT gauge cluster display to a huge great-looking seven-inch floating head unit (with volume control knob, yes!) – the build quality inside the car is evident. There are some soft plastics present, but they’re relatively okay. The steering wheel control buttons could be improved a bit as they’re hard to press sometimes.
Nevertheless, convenience is king in this crossover with the presence of automatic headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding mirrors, parking camera, and auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
Ergonomics is also the strongest trait of the 2018 CR-V. Cup and bottle holders are abundant throughout the car, up to the third row. Plus, since the electronic gear selector buttons are placed just below the A/C controls, Honda replaced it with a huge central compartment with USB ports and power outlets conveniently positioned inside. This frees up a lot of space in the front row, and eliminates annoying cellphone cables. It could have been roomier, though, if they shrunk the gear selector’s case a little.
Space in the second row is more-than-ample for three individuals, especially when slid all the way back. There’s also rear A/C vents and two USB ports. Although, when the third row is used for two passengers, everyone should compromise. It’s livable, yes, but not for really long drives. Better save the last row for the kids (and vertically challenged friends or members of the family).
If you’ll use the rear end of the CR-V for cargo, it’s quite a lot. That’s 472L when the third row is folded — enough to fit overnight bags for four people with plenty of room for more. You can further maximize that to 967L with the second row folded. Talk about versatility. To put icing on the cake, it has power tailgate for convenience.
Ride comfort is also noteworthy in the 2018 CR-V. Thanks largely to its multi-link suspension at the back. It’s not too damp for the car to be bouncy, yet it can go through most, if not all, road imperfections. There’s body roll, yes, but that’s understandable with the car’s 208mm ground clearance.
The all-new CR-V’s great driving dynamics and exceptional cabin comfort comes in an overall package of solid exterior appeal in a wide, beefy stance. Its design is well thought of and executed. It’s like a really great gift packaged with an even better wrapper.
LED lights adorn the entire car which is matched with a forgivable amount of chrome and uniquely-designed non-generic 18-inch alloy rims. The undersides are also wrapped in body cladding, suggesting the go-anywhere trait of the crossover.
With all things considered, the 2018 Honda CR-V is a great all-around vehicle that Filipino families will truly love. It has the perfect balance of performance and frugality, elegance and ruggedness, all while having intelligent tech and wide array of safety features that you’ll likely find in bigger midsize SUVs. Although it also has the price tag of these bigger vehicles—P2,086,000 for the SX—you’ll pretty much get your money’s worth, even more.
With that, the fifth-generation CR-V isn’t just the greatest turning point in Honda’s 2017; it could even be the best thing that HCPI has done in their entire existence in the market.