2014 HONDA CR-V REVIEW
What’s Hot: Torquey diesel motor, spacious cabin, great build quality
What’s Not: $3.5k premium over petrol model, five-speed auto is old-tech
X-FACTOR: The most likeable and driveable CR-V has arrived.
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $38,290 (DTi-S manual) to $45,915 (DTi-L)
Engine/trans: 110kW/350Nm 2.2 4cyl turbo diesel | 6sp man, 5sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 5.8 l/100km (DTi-S manual), 6.7 l/100km (DTi-S auto), 6.9 l/100km (DTi-L auto)
It’s taken a little over a year for Honda to bring out a diesel variant of its CR-V medium SUV, but this is definitely a case of “better late than never”.
Available in both automatic and manual guise and selling for roughly $3500 more than a similarly-specced petrol equivalent, the new CR-V DTi range is, we feel, the CR-V to get.
Nevertheless, the extra premium attached to the diesel models coupled with the greater cost-per-litre of diesel fuel means Honda has modest expectations for its diesel SUV.
By its estimates, the diesel will account for just 15 percent of total CR-V sales volume - but that’s not a reflection of the quality of the product. Not by a long shot.
The CR-V DTi-S and DTi-L are sourced from Honda’s UK factory in Swindon, literally half a world away from the Thai plant that assembles petrol CR-Vs for Australia.
But there is no such gulf in quality between petrol and diesel CRVs.
There’s the same soft-touch materials on the dash and doors, and hard plastics everywhere else.
The layout of controls and buttons is identical too, and the only visible difference between petrol and diesel interiors is the strip of textured silver trim running across the dashboard.
Fit and finish is very good. Panel gaps are tight, nothing squeaks and most things feel reassuringly solid.
Comfort is good too, though the back seat could use a more supportive seat base.
One standout feature of the CR-V is its feeling of spaciousness. There’s loads of headroom front and rear, the boot is a roomy 556 litres with the rear seats up, and the second row folds forward at the flick of a lever.
It’s also quite well equipped. Specification largely mirrors that of the petrol CR-V range, with the CR-V DTi-S getting sat-nav, Bluetooth phone and audio integration, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and rear parking sensors.
The DTi-L adds bi-xenon headlamps, powered and heated front seats, leather upholstery, keyless entry, a push-button starter and front parking sensors.
Key interior features:
- Satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, bluetooth phone and audio streaming standard.
- One-touch folding rear seats
- Heated, power-adjustable front seats in DTi-L
- Luggage capacity: 556 litres seats up, 1648 litres seats down.
- Full-size spare under boot floor.
ON THE ROAD
Thanks to a 2.2 litre turbo diesel inline four, the CR-V diesel produces a solid 110kW and 350Nm of torque.
The base DTi-S can be had with either a six-speed manual or a five-speed auto, while the DTi-L is strictly auto-only. Unlike the petrol CR-V range, all diesels come with an on-demand AWD drivetrain.
Compared with the 2.4 litre petrol inline four that powers the AWD petrol CR-Vs, the diesel is down 30kW on power, but up on torque by a substantial 128Nm.
All 350Nm is delivered from a low 2000rpm, which makes the diesel quite 'grunty' indeed.
It’s not as immediately lively as the 2.4 petrol and there's a fair bit if turbo lag lower in the rev range.
It is however a much more relaxed powerplant on the highway than the petrol, and overtaking is effortless once the engine gathers steam and the turbo spools up.
It’s smooth and refined too. Though there’s a typical diesel clatter from outside the car, there’s just a muted thrum from the driver’s seat.
The standard six-speed manual on the DTi-S is one of the best. It’s far from truck-like, with slick, light shifts and a clutch pedal that’s just as easy to live with.
Don’t want to change gears? The optional five-speed auto is for you, and though it’s not quite as cutting-edge as some of the six-speed autos about, the extra torque of the diesel helps deal with the wider gaps between ratios.
We drove a DTi-S manual and a DTi-L auto over a mix of tarmac and gravel country roads, and both proved comfortable companions for this kind of driving.
Whether on the DTi-S’ 17-inch alloys or the DTi-L’s 18-inchers, the ride was always composed and nicely damped. The steering doesn’t inspire with its numb feel, but this is an SUV, not a sports car.
And with the Honda Australia hoping the CR-V diesel will increase the brand’s appeal to rural buyers, this kind of long-distance ride comfort is important. It’s an able cruiser, and a reasonably fuel efficient one at that.
In the DTi-L we managed an average consumption of 7.8 l/100km, which is appreciably close to Honda’s claim of 6.9 l/100km for that model.
- 2.2 litre diesel turbo inline four
- 110kW @ 400rpm, 350Nm @ 2000-2750rpm
- Six-speed manual or five-speed automatic, AWD
- Fuel consumption listed: 5.8 l/100km (DTi-S manual), 6.9 l/100km (DTi-L auto).
- Macpherson strut front suspension, multi-link rear suspension
- Towing capacity: 2000kg (manual), 1500kg (auto)
ANCAP rating: 5/5 Stars - this model scored 35.91 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist are all standard features of the CR-V, as are three-point seatbelts and six airbags (dual front, front side, curtain).
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you’re concerned about driveability, torque and long-distance fuel economy, the CR-V DTi-S and DTi-L are compelling offerings.
The extra three-and-a-half grand premium over the petrol is considerable, but that’s pretty much the norm for diesel SUVs in the CR-V’s size category.
If you’re shopping purely on value though, the petrol will probably be more appealing given equipment levels and interior appointments are largely identical between the petrol models and their diesel equivalents.
And Honda knows this. It expects just 150 out of every 1000 CR-Vs sold will be diesels, but it also expects to do well in regional areas where diesel is king. If you're shopping for a smart diesel SUV, this one from Honda won't disappoint.
Pricing (excludes on-road costs)
- 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
- CR-V VTi-L 2.4 4WD w/ADAS - automatic - $45,790
- CR-V DTi-S 2.2 4WD - manual - $38,290
- CR-V DTi-S 2.2 4WD - auto - $40,590
- CR-V DTi-L 2.2 4WD - auto - $45,915