2013 Honda CR-V Launch Review

Tim O'Brien | 29 Comments


Vehicle category: Compact SUV Wagon

Variants Reviewed
Model Power/Torque Fuel (listed) Fuel (tested)
VTi 2.0 litre 2WD Auto 114kW/190Nm 7.8 l/100km 9.5 l/100km
VTi 2.4 litre 4WD Auto 140kW/222Nm 8.7 l/100km 10.5 l/100km
VTi-L 2.4 litre 4WD Auto 140kW/222Nm 8.7 l/100km 10.7 l/100km


Honda’s new CR-V SUV does something the older model struggled to do – it commands attention. Shorter, lower, but with a longer roof, there is a nice balance to its fresh new lines.

Where the older model looked a bit of a frump, the higher-set nose of the new model, strong curved grille and angular chopped tail, injects a little class and carpark presence into Honda’s new midsized SUV.

Smaller outside, but bigger inside, few, we’d reckon, will find the distinctly sharper styling lacking.

Importantly, with a more potent 2.4 litre petrol engine standard across 4WD models, and a new 2.0 litre 2WD model at a sub-$30k entry-point to the range, it’s packing some showroom punch for Honda.

We drove both 2WD and 4WD models at launch in and around the Adelaide Hills. It might be sitting on the old platform, but this is a greatly improved car.


The interior too is an improvement over the older model. While the plastics look and feel about the same – in other words, it’s not over-endowed with soft-touch surfaces - the lines are strong, uncluttered and well organised.

Honda’s now trademark large speedometer dominating the sports-style instrument binnacle is clear, modern and appealing (its borders glow green or amber depending upon the fuel use), and the steering wheel – never a disappointment with Honda – has a nice ‘square-on’ feel and well laid-out audio and cruise control buttons.

The layout of the controls and switchgear in the centre stack is also ‘just right’.

The gearshift is high on the console (sitting in a cheap-looking brushed metal surround) and the paddles in the 4WD models are placed nicely for fingertip control behind the wheel.

The display screen angles slightly to the driver, and there is an ‘anchoring’ metal highlight running the width of the dash. All up, there is a crisp airy feel to what is a pretty good interior.

Some may be disappointed that the dash has a hard hollow feel, and may have been expecting more from Honda, but, for style and fit and finish, there is little else to fault.

Seats are ok, not great; the squab length is a little short – we’d prefer more under-thigh support and more shaping – but not uncomfortable.

Set low (the new CR-V is 30mm lower than the car it replaces), there is a more car-like “compact wagon” feel to the driving position and passenger compartment.

2013 honda cr v australia launch review 08

The second row split-folds (one touch) and also reclines – that’s something that will appeal to the fruits of the loins on a long trip to the beach or the bush.

Both the VTI (2WD and 4WD) models are nicely trimmed in an appealing patterned fabric.

Strangely enough, we preferred the shaping and feel of the fabric-trimmed seats to the leather seats in the top-spec VTi-L.

The spec list too is pretty good. Standouts are reversing camera and Bluetooth standard across all models. There’s an in-dash information screen in all models and an eight-inch touch-screen in the centre-stack in higher-spec models.

Additional to these features, both entry-level VTi models (in 2WD and 4WD) feature front, side and curtain airbags, air-con, cruise control, remote central locking, multi-information display, CD with MP3 capability (and USB input) power windows, and roof rails.

The mid-spec VTi-S adds sat-nav, auto headlights and wipers, fog lights, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.

And, in the top-shelf VTi-L you’ll find high quality leather throughout, front parking sensors, HID headlights with active cornering function, sunroof, powered and heated front seats, keyless entry and push-button start.

Family buyers will give the versatile interior a big tick. The boot is huge for a car of this size. Long and deep, it offers 556 litres to the window line, rising to 1648 litres with the ‘one-touch’ rear seats folded flat.

More to the point, the floor is very low (despite covering a full-size spare) as is the loading lip. In the VTi-L, the keyless entry allows opening and locking without having to remove the keys from the pocket.


We put the entry-level VTi 2WD and similar entry-level VTi 4WD over the same highway, hills and back-roads route, one after the other (and a shorter loop in the top-spec VTi-L)

Unladen, there is not as much between them as the technical specifications may suggest. Sure, fully loaded for the family holiday, the torque deficit of the 2.0 litre will likely be more apparent, but each is lively enough.

The 2.0 litre in the 2WD model produces 114kW and 190Nm of torque, quite a bit less than the 140kW and 230Nm of the 2.4 litre 4WD model – but the 2.0 litre is dragging around 92kg less that the heavier ‘fourby’.

But Honda has lost something with its modern range of engines.

They work fine, they will spin their heads off, but the ‘jewel-like character of Honda-engines past, and the wonderful rorty rasp that accompanied a rush through the rev-range has been absent for some years in family models like the CR-V.

Now they sound like any other engine.

True, both the 2.0 litre and 2.4 litre are superbly balanced and smooth as silk, but without character when working hard.

While the 2.0 litre 2WD is available in manual (but which we have not driven), in automatic guise both 2.0 litre and 2.4 litre engines get a five-speeder.

The AWD 2.4 also gets paddle-shift control – there is no such manual control for the 2WD auto.

Each left to their own devices work fine. They’re responsive units – you don’t have to slam the pedal to the floor to trigger a kick-down – and changes up and down are smooth and crisp.

Importantly, even the 2.0 litre auto has a ‘settled’ feel: it’s doesn’t fidget up and down unnecessarily in hilly going.

2013 honda cr v australia launch review 17

The AWD has a ‘sport’ setting which sharpens things up, and can also be manually operated via the steering-wheel paddle shifters. Stretch the 2.4 CR-V’s legs and it can feel pretty sporty on a winding road.

On the downside, we think the stretch between first and second is a bit long. Second is quite tall (comparatively); the result is that the CR-V can feel a little doughy when pulling out of a slow corner in second.

Higher up it’s better: it zings through the ratios and is very relaxed in fifth at the legal limit.

Like most SUVs, the CR-V is a bit top-heavy when cornering quickly, but Honda has this suspension about right. It’s firm and flat at the front (with revised geometry over the older model), but the rear is quite a bit softer and with a longer travel.

Front to back, it’s nicely ‘in tune’ with itself. This shows in its composure over rapid corrugations and through mid-corner bumps. The new CR-V’s settled and comfortable ride is certainly better than most.

The 4WD models feel a little more connected with the road, and 'hook up' a tad earlier when accelerating out of a corner - but there is little in it in the dry conditions we experienced (slippery roads may tell a different tale).

Honda in fact rarely gets ‘the driving experience’ wrong. The CR-V is not quite a match for Mazda’s standout CX-5, but there are scant margins in it, and, 2WD and 4WD, it certainly sits among the better performers in the segment.


Nice car, this new CR-V.

The 2WD holds a small fuel consumption advantage, but for the relatively small price advantage we think the 2.4 litre 4WD is the better buy.

Drivers will enjoy the paddle-shifters in the 2.4 4WD, zesty performance and that typical Honda engaged feel at the wheel.

And families will appreciate the standard reversing camera, one-touch fold-flat seats, low loading-lip and clever interior ‘conversing’ mirror (for keeping an eye on the goings-on in the rear seat).

Now with sharp new lines to set it a little apart, and Honda’s deserved reputation for bullet-proof engineering and strong retained values, the new CR-V is good buying.


(in bold: models tested in this review)

  • CR-V VTi 2.0 2WD - manual - $27,490
  • CR-V VTi 2.0 2WD - automatic - $29,790
  • CR-V VTi With Navigation 2.0 2WD - automatic - $31,790
  • CR-V VTi 2.4 4WD - automatic - $32,790
  • CR-V VTi-S 2.4 4WD - automatic - $36,290
  • CR-V VTi-L 2.4 4WD - automatic - $42,290

Filed under: Featured, review, wagon, Honda, cr-v, honda cr-v, petrol, awd, suv, automatic, Manual, fwd, launch, family, medium, Advice, special-featured, 4cyl, 5door, 6m, 5a, tim o'brien, 5seat, available, 40-45k, 35-40k, 25-30k, 30-35k, 2013my, top news november 2012, 2013 honda cr-v, 2013 cr-v

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  • NicN says,
    3 years ago
    I test drove a 2013 CR-V VTi-L 10 days ago and found the car noisy on the road and harsh under acceleration. The interior is a complete let-down given the $45K price tag and the use of a foot-operated parking break a joke in a 2013 model car. All-in-all the new CR-V is a huge disappointment.
    • Jackie says,
      3 years ago
      are you a Mazda CX-5 seller?.....^.^
    • guest says,
      2 years ago
      absolutely agree with you about the parking brake and its location. i actually bought 2014 one. noisy, parking brake will amputate the left foot in collision its so low. who the fk designed it???!!! no brains. even worse is the interior plastic. mine is built in Ohio (us&a). every day is a new scratch somewhere inside and i don't even breathe on this POS. i'll have to find a 3M film installer to protect all interior plastic from accidental touching with my hands. my skin is abrasive when in contact with anything inside. no brains honda engineers! no brains!
      • Rose says,
        2 years ago
        The one with no brain is you since you bought something without test driving it in the first place. What a waste of brain...
  • Sebastian Style Messiah says,
    3 years ago
    I like it
  • Sebastian Style Messiah says,
    3 years ago
    I think the 2WD version should have the 2.4. To get a 2.4 with Nav starts to get expensive, then you notice such things as hard plastics.... At nearly $40K you could get into an i40 wagon.
    • John Love says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      I agree, after I saw the youtube videos on how the CRV flunks roller test, I don't see any reason why I should buy a awd CRV.
      Better yet, Honda should concentrate their R&D on developing diesel engines for CRV & Accord.
  • Unbiased says,
    3 years ago
    Was always a Mazda fanatic, was about to buy a cx5 Maxx Sport Diesel, but after driving both the cx5 Maxxsport petrol and diesel, and then the CRV VTI-L 2.4, the CRV for me is a better all round ca. Absolutely love the CRV 2.4, it absolutely destroys the lame cx5 petrol in engine, cargo space and practicality departments. As for CX5 Diesel, yeah of course lot more more power but don't really need all of that. Plus who wants to pay $40K for the diesel issue that cx5s currently have. Not worth the risk with the CX5 diesel for that much $$. Never looked twice at the Honda before but now will definitely be buying the CRV VTI-S. Can't believe I never considered the CRV until now, alarm, sensors, auto-off headlights, so many standard features over the CX5. Nice car the CRV.
    • Unbiased says,
      3 years ago
      Forgot to also mention CRV VTI-S also has in addition to above: reverse tilt passenger door mirrors, roof rails, auto dim rear view mirror, dvd player, sat nav with SUNA live updates. This destroys the CX5 Maxx sport, diesel or no diesel. I'll take the CRV 2.4 with all of these features any day over cx5 diesel lemon, which misses all of these CRV features. Disappointed by Mazda this time
      • Sebastian Style Messiah says,
        3 years ago
        I agree, the CX5 is not good value for what is a smallish SUV.
  • Family guy says,
    3 years ago
    Test drove the cx5 maxx sport petrol / diesel, the 2wd crv vti and the crv vti-l.

    Bought the 2wd crv vti. Fairly easy choice but my impressions as follows

    1. Agree with an earlier post that the crv vti-l doesn't feel like a premium car - it is a very similar driving experience to its 2wd sibling.

    2. Crv interior is quieter than cx5 - road noise an issue for me on the cx5.

    3. Cx5 had a far superior sat nav (tomtom) that doubles as reverse camera - crv vti-l unit was by comparison obsolete. I'm buying a garmin instead.

    4. The 2wd crv reverse camera is a little smaller in screen size but does the job fine.

    5. Cx5 petrol has a disconcerting delay between pressing the accelerator and the car actually moving. Not sure the fuel economy is worth that trade off.

    6. Cx5 comfortably seats 4 adults, crv comfortably seats 5 due to its flat floor and larger feeling interior.

    7. Crv has a much bigger boot.

    8. Cx5 feels like the more modern car

    9. Cx5 diesel has power in spades, dealers apparently not getting complaints abt the diesel. Get that if you need a performance fix.

    Overall they're all good cars, the basic 2wd crv however was the outstanding value proposition for me - 100% happy with the choice.

    • DJDommo says,
      3 years ago
      Hi family guy, thanks for the post. I'm looking to buy the 2wd crv vti. Were the dealers negotiating on the pricing from the standard price list?
      • Whaddeva says,
        2 years ago
        Yes to a degree, Dave Potter Honda in Adelaide, sales person was willing to "throw in" this and that, but when I pressed for cash discount it was very marginal. Still I have bought it and first impressions are all positive. Beautiful car to drive around city and some light country style driving...
    • T-Rex says,
      3 years ago
      Also all CRV have rear air cond vents/outlets smile CX5 does not even with its top spec sad
  • Sasa says,
    3 years ago
    1 like
    The largest disappointment is LACK OF PARKING BRAKE in tricky situations that means difference between landing into the accident on icy road, or avoiding it(happened to me on my 6 month old CR-V)...And second disappointment is that vehicle of 3000 pounds is moved with 2,4 liter engine????
    Honda listen to this....V6 V6 V6 PLEASE add V6 engine...AWD does not cut it.
    • Sam says,
      3 years ago
      1 like
      Why would you use your handbrake on an icy road? That's just going to make things worse..
    • Whaddeva says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      Park brake on icy road?!?!?!? dry I was professional driver in Europe, on icy roads, park brake is NOT to be touched my friend, ABS should do enough in that department..... smile
  • Police says,
    3 years ago
    Sorry Sasa, CRV is made for the whole world and not specifically for the USA. Hence no V6 option. In some countries it will come with a 1.6 litre engine albeit a diesel.
    AUSDAVIDZ says,
    3 years ago
    Does its still have a picknic table?

    Whats with the volvo copy tailights?

    Whats with the [SUPERIOR] XTRAIL copy rear floor tyre storage

    Too expensive

    Short warranty and service interval

  • ELeanor says,
    2 years ago
    Test drove a few cars including the new 2013 CRV VTi-L but disappointed with it somehow. I am a Honda CRV fan but I found the foot parking brake a bit confusing in tricky situation. With no roll back control feature n being an automatic I found this new model not giving driver the perfect control eg in slopes. Also i found the steering wheel a bit loose. Is it me or the car? When comparing to my 2002 model CRV I seem to prefer my old car to this new car despite the modernized features?!!! What happen? Should i go back to Manual n not missing the controlling the car feeling? Or is it because I have test driven VW Tiguan, Volvo xc60, Subaru?
  • geni says,
    2 years ago
    I am thinking to buy a CR-V 2013 diesel . I am betwen e mitsubishi pajero and CR-V . I need some advice.
    • Whaddeva says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      For a starter, those vehicles are not in the same categorysmile Pajero is Top of The range 4WD all terrain vehicle while Honda CRV is more of SUV like "sedan"type vehicle. I have 2013 CRV and if you are outback person, go for Pajero. If you are looking for a car for city and suburbia conditions, CRV is far better, easier to park, easier to make u turn, better fuel economy, cheaper to run.
    • LL says,
      2 years ago
      1 like
      do not bay Honda
      My suck petrol like crazy 12.9l /100
      Honda 2013 CRV 4wd
      • guest says,
        2 years ago
        agree. numbers are inflated by honda and your EPA equivalent.
  • Bogg says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    Understand Honda is bringing a diesel version to Aussie and the end of the year!
  • darek says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    I was up to cr-v but when started to read comments and reviews from owners that car does not stand out from the crow
    the best Honda is accord euro luxury 7th gen model from 05 up with low kms is the best car and keeps value for money
  • siuloongbao says,
    2 years ago
    1 like
    We bought a MY14 VTi-L CRV a couple of months ago. We should have checked the panels and build quality before handing over our bank cheque. For a brand new car, this thing looks to be built cheaply. I am no perfectionist, but as soon as I drove it home and into my garage, I noticed:
    1. Doors and panels and rear bumper don't align
    2. Chrome door trims don't align
    3. Rear tail light assemblies don't align
    4. Centre console airvent and satnav lines don't match
    5. Alloy rims have so many balance weights stuck on them

    Don't get me wrong, the dealer gave great service, but it was the product that let Honda down. I cannot believe all these visual "Defects" for a brand new $44k+ car. I even visited another Honda dealership to check out the CRVs on display and to my surprise - they all are like that!

    After making a complaint to Honda Aust, I was referred back to the Dealership and told not everything can be rectified but some "Defects" were within tolerance (I wonder how long Honda can hide behind that excuse). However, as a goodwill gesture, they we willing to get the Dealership's panel beating service to rectify as much of the "Defects" as possible. The car's been booked in to have the above matters addressed next week.

    If this is what Honda quality is about; you won't get me back as a repeat buyer.

    If you are shopping for a CRV, make sure you check all the panels before you hand over your money.
  • Karina says,
    2 years ago
    I bought the CRV 2wd Navi ... 2012 model, and love it!! There is not one thing I can say bad ..... It's a perfect car for me and my small family. I have test drove other SUV's and found a few things that I didn't like, but not one thing when I test drove my Honda!!
  • MC says,
    2 years ago
    I purchased a new 2013 CR-V 7 months ago. While basically efficient it is very disappointing new car. The electric steering has absolutely no feel. Equally annoying is the Multi-Information Display which can only be accessed by pressing an "OK" button saying you will not use it while driving (this includes the hands-free phone, radio tuner buttons and GPS) . This is ridiculous since these functions are all there to be used while driving. The mindless "OK" ritual has to be followed every time you start the car.
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