Tim O'Brien | Nov 21, 2012 | 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


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