2014 HONDA CR-V REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Medium SUV
Engine/Trans: 110kW/350Nm 2.2-litre 4cyl diesel | 5spd auto
Price: $45,340 (plus on-roads)
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.9l/100km | tested: 9.5 l/100km
Just about every manufacturer with an SUV in the line-up has at least one diesel option. The benefits are obvious: heaps of torque, low fuel use and relaxed driving manners.
The CR-V is a good car in petrol form, not perfect, but with a lot to recommend it.
So is it worth the extra spend for the benefits the diesel brings? And does the diesel drive experience make the hip-pocket sting more tolerable?
This week, that’s what we set to find out.
Quality: Is there ever an issue with how well Honda puts its interiors together? Hardly.
The cabin is as tight as a drum, and despite the obvious hard plastics here and there, the soft-to-touch surfaces across the dashtop look great.
The cutlines and gaps are tight and the presentation is inviting, even though dominated by a drab-ish grey.
Honda has tried to differentiate the diesel from petrol models by fitting it with unique trim and visual cues. The premium model, the DTi-L, has its own distinct leather seating, and the way it’s put together is excellent.
Up front is a huge, easy-to-read speedo with a floating needle arrangement. While that’s nice, look to your left and the top screen above the centre stack is a tad behind the times.
Comfort: The seats in the CR-V are heated, and the leather is quite soft with excellent padding and support.
A low, flat floor for the back row means despite its classification as a 'medium SUV', the CR-V can easily fit three abreast and there’s lots of headroom and legroom.
Couple that with the excellent ride and you’ve got a very comfortable vehicle.
Equipment: The DTi-L is the top-of-the-line diesel, and Honda has differentiated it from petrol models with daytime running lights (DRLs) at the front.
When turning a corner, a light shines “into” the corner to help visibility at night.
Cruise control, reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth audio and phone, MP3/USB stereo, dual-zone climate control, auto dimming mirror, keyless start, electric front seats and roof rails are all standard.
Storage: Perhaps the best feature of the CR-V is the ease with which the back seats can be moved out of the way for storing larger items. Simply pull a lever and the whole assembly compactly rolls up and stows against the front seats.
Push it back down and click it into place, lift the seatback and it’s back to normal service. Simple, easy and ever-so-practical.
There are two large cupholders under a retractable lid up front, while the centre seatback drops down to reveal two more. The door bins up-front are of a useful size, while the rears will happily hold a 600ml water bottle.
The glovebox is huge and the centre console space under the armrest is enough to throw in a purse, wallet and couple of phones. There’s also a small in-dash coin storage tray low down on the right-side of the driver.
And with 556 litres with the seats up and 1648 litres with the seats down, the boot is an excellent size for groceries, bicycles, or even an Ikea bed. Yes, we test everything.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: With only 110kW to play with, the diesel CR-V is no speed machine. But the ample torque (350Nm) is enough to get things rolling in a very easy-going manner.
It teams well with the five-speed auto, being smooth and relaxed, however an extra ratio would go a long way to utilising the torque more effectively.
In 2014, six speeds should be an absolute minimum.
There’s quite a bit of lag from rest, with rolling performance masking most of the delay during normal city driving.
You do however get paddle shifters to speed things up, though they are probably superfluous for most drivers.
It is 'fast enough' rather than 'fast'. However, when either paddled or left to its own devices, the CR-V can summon a useful turn of speed when called upon.
It’s not terribly economical for a diesel however - the manual DTi-S uses at least a litre less per 100km, while on test we only managed 9.5 l/100km from our DTi-L.
The all-wheel-drive system is quite good, though.
The reaction time between the front wheels slipping and the rear wheels kicking in is virtually imperceptible, which makes it exceptionally grippy in wet or loose surface conditions.
Refinement: The diesel engine does have a bit of a rattle and it’s not the quietest when asked to rev right out to its maximum, but then, that’s missing the point of having a diesel.
Keep it in its happy zone around 2000-2500rpm and it works away reasonably unobtrusively. The cabin is hushed, although you will notice a small amount of road noise.
Ride and Handling: While the luxury model sits on 18-inch wheels, large for a car this size, the ride is excellent.
There’s enough firmness so you know what’s going on underneath but it’s supple enough to smother big hits and keep passengers isolated from bad roads.
Yes, it’ll scrub push wide when really pushed, but its relaxed manners cause you to adopt a savour-the-view style rather than a set-lap-times approach to driving.
The steering can manage just numb feedback but has reasonable weighting (it does get better nearer the lock stops).
Braking: Pedal feel is good from the ventilated front and solid rear discs. Retardation is excellent when really stomped on, giving you plenty of confidence.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars: The Honda CR-V received the full five-star crash rating from ANCAP, scoring 35.91 out of a possible 37 points.
Safety features: Dual front, head and chest and side curtain airbags come as standard. ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) are also standard. Advanced seat belt reminders are fitted to all seats
There are five ISOFIX points and three top tether points.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/100,000km.
Service costs: Honda offers capped-price servicing. For the DTi-L, the cost is $354.00 per six months or 10,000km, which is much more often than the current industry standard of 15,000 or 20,000km.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring ($47,030) - Not quite as roomy or practical, but a damn sight more attractive (inside and out) and more involving to drive, the CX-5 is without a doubt the darling of the medium SUV segment.
Toyota RAV4 2.2D Cruiser ($50,790) - Like the CR-V, the diesel RAV4 has been a long time coming.
It’s down on torque (by 10Nm) and a fair whack more expensive but it’s roomy and well-built. It also has a superior six-speed automatic (see RAV4 reviews)
Subaru Forester 2.0D-S ($43,990) - More suited to actual off-road work than the Honda, the Subie’s strengths lie in its robust build and dependability. There’s less space than the Honda, though. (see Forester reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
While it’s no powerhouse, the CR-V is a likeable steer. Not because it’s sink-your-teeth-in involving, but because its easy-going approach causes you to take a step back and just appreciate being comfortable.
But there’s a problem. And it comes from within Honda’s own stable.
Drive the petrol CR-V and you’ll find that while torque is down, power is up, offsetting the Newton-metre deficit. It also offers a similar relaxed on-road feel.
Work through the maths, however, and the case for the diesel doesn’t really add up.
While it uses less fuel overall, diesel fuel costs more. Per year, your fuel bill (based on Honda’s service schedule of 20,000km and the ADR combined consumption figure) is around $240 cheaper if you buy a diesel CR-V.
But the petrol equivalent is around $180 per year cheaper to service. Divide the $60 in favour of the diesel into the extra money you pay initially ($3050) and it’ll take around 50 years to break even.
Our advice? If you’re after a CR-V, buy the petrol version. And if you don’t have to have an AWD car, there are cheaper versions of the CR-V available.
Either way you’re getting a comfortably, well-built, roomy SUV which, being a Honda, should serve the family faithfully for many years to come.
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