2013 Honda CR-V VTi-L Review Photo:
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What's Hot
Plush interior with plenty of space.
What's Not
Dash and sat-nav a little outdated, flat seats.
Smaller outside, bigger inside, and styled to catch the attention of young families.
Kez Casey | Jan, 30 2013 | 6 Comments


Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Price: $42,290 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy listed: 8.7 l/100km | tested: 9.2 l/100km



Honda’s CR-V SUV has always had ‘a certain something’. Along with the RAV4, the CR-V was arguably responsible for setting the compact SUV category alight.

And it’s always been something of a bright spark in Honda’s line-up with a youthful edge some of Honda’s other models have lost.

Now in its fourth generation, the new CR-V boasts improved refinement and interior space without an increase in external dimensions or with any weight gain. Importantly, Honda has also managed to eke out improved fuel economy.



Quality: Honda has a knack for sourcing some of the best-feeling leather in the business, this side of premium offerings at least. The leather trim on the seats of the VTi-L model is silky smooth and delightfully soft.

There’s also a sturdy solidity to the interior plastics - but not all surfaces appeal: the numerous patterned plastics used on the dash and door trims are all hard to the touch. The way they bounce back after a knock should keep parents of young kids happy though.

Comfort: As good as the leather trim is, its draped over fairly flat seats. Up front there’s not much in the way of bolstering for bums or shoulders.

The back seat however offers a surprising amount of space with leg and headroom in abundance, as well as a flat floor and enough width for three abreast.

But, even in its most reclined position, the rear bench is a little upright and the cushion is short, so long-distance comfort can be compromised.

Equipment: Standard features across all CR-V models include cruise control, air-conditioning with rear-seat ventilation, power windows, remote central-locking, alloy wheels, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and a multi-function trip computer.

Top-of-the-range VTi-L models also score leather trim with heated front seats, 18-inch alloys, dual zone climate control, powered sunroof, proximity key with push-button start, front fog lights and HID headlights with active cornering lights.

Storage: A centre console is now standard, taking the place of the walk-through between the seats. Some will miss that feature, but the storage space is more useful.

There are also plenty of cup holders and door pockets with bottle recesses in each door.

Boot space measures 556 litres, and with the clever one-touch 60:40 split rear seat folded out of the way (operated from either the cabin or the boot), there’s a very handy 1120 litres of storage.



Driveability: It’s fair to say, the 2.4 litre i-VTEC engine powering four-wheel-drive equipped CR-V models surprised us.

It delivers lively performance; with 140kW of power at 7000rpm and 222Nm of torque, the CR-V feels unusually spritely for an SUV.

Around town it steps off the line smartly, revs cleanly and is an eager performer all-round.

On the highway that slightly low torque figure can slow things down a little uphill, but, once again - it’s a Honda after all - a keen willingness to rev ensures confident overtaking.

There’s also an eco-mode switch which, when selected, restricts acceleration and tempers the air-con. Unlike some similar systems however the CR-V remains perfectly driveable, but the difference in acceleration can be felt.

Refinement: With the combination of Honda’s silken 2.4 litre engine and buttery five-speed automatic, there’s little to ruffle occupants on the move.

Road and wind noise are both well attenuated for serene cruising - tyre roar is noticeable on only the coarsest of blue-chip surfaces.

Suspension: Honda’s fine-tuning of this CR-V over its predecessor stands out. The ride is more comfortable and balanced than the previous model, shows greater composure across corrugations and good control and grip on loose surfaces.

Suspension hardware is conventional; there are MacPherson struts up front with a multi-link rear setup.

Braking: With four-wheel disc brakes, ventilated front and solid rear, the CR-V pulls up well. The pedal feels fairly light underfoot, but in all conditions we experienced the braking performance is hard to fault.



ANCAP rating: 5-Stars

Safety features: The CR-V comes with a 5-Star safety list: Vehicle Stability Assist (ESP) and traction control, whiplash-reducing front seats with active head restraints, three-point seat belts in all seats, front seatbelt pretensioners, adjustable rear head-restraints, front, side and curtain airbags, hill-start assist, reversing camera and ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution and brake assist.



Warranty: Three years/100,000km

Service costs: Servicing costs may vary. Consult your local Honda dealer.



Subaru Forester 2.5i-S ($43,990) - Like the CR-V, the new Forester has been gently refined to keep its core values but now offers greater levels of refinement.

We haven’t put it through its paces on a full test yet, but TMR’s pre-launch drive shows the Forester to be a very competitive contender in this booming segment.

We’d tip it as the better rough-road choice thanks to class-leading ground clearance, and the CVT transmission is well up to the rigours of the daily commute. (see Forester reviews)

Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring 2.0i ($43,280) - Mazda builds something of a current class benchmark, so the CR-V has a hard fight. The CX-5’s 2.0 litre SkyActiv petrol lacks the punch of the CR-V, and, while fuel economy is good, drivability can suffer in the hills.

The coming 2.5 litre model should soon fix that though, and the Grand Touring model packs in a few more comfort and convenience items than that CR-V VTi-L. (see CX-5 reviews)

Volkswagen Tiguan 155TSI ($42,990) - Though the elder model in this comparison, Volkswagen’s Tiguan holds up quite well, specification levels are high, although navigation remains an option.

On the road the extra power and torque from the turbocharged 155TSI engine are obvious, and quite handy with a full load on board (see Tiguan reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



While so many cars creep up in size with each new model, Honda has kept the exterior dimensions of the CR-V in check, while simultaneously improving interior space and comfort. A wise move, we think.

Family buyers will certainly appreciate the room to expand in the CR-V’s interior - while the kids are growing, wheeling them around to ballet class or cricket training shouldn’t ever be a problem. There is lots of room for growing legs.

They’ll be kept comfy too thanks to the plush seating - and all their gear should stow happily in the back without a problem.

While there’s plenty of choice among medium SUVs, and some strong new contenders on the way, the Honda CR-V should certainly be on your shortlist if you’re shopping in this segment.



(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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