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2018 Honda CR-V – First Drive Review

2018 Honda CR-V – First Drive Review

Snapshot: The new 5th generation car has been fairly revamped from inside out and it’s back with much more than what you may expect.

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Honda made its presence felt in the premium SUV segment in India for the first time when it introduced the CR-V back in 2003. And hence it has been one of the original SUVs that the Indian car market is well familiar with. With time, several generations of the car came and went, but the charm of the CR-V was somehow faded as the SUV market went berserk over its rival Japanese SUVs.  Now, Honda is back in action with all-new CR-V which is set to be launched in the Indian market next month. The new 5th generation car has been fairly revamped from inside out and it’s back with much more than what you may expect. And we were in Jaipur a few days back to test out if the 2018 CR-V has what it takes to dethrone its Japanese rival and win back the charm it was once famous for.

What’s new?

The all-new CR-V has grown modern by all sense. Taking forward the learnings from the last four generations, the new car has been built upon the same, but in a contemporary manner. For the first time ever, it gets a diesel engine and an extra 3rd row seating which got the people talking already. On the outside, it still reminds of the older car but the design has matured in a good way. It is sharper, more appealing and hasn’t lost the subtle touch of sophistication it’s known for.

The new car offers slightly heavier looks with bigger front fenders, bulging wheel arches and more aggressive front fascia with chunkier chrome bar on the grille. Have a look at the rear and you’ll see the shape has grown more symmetric and is better looking. The new LED ‘L’-shaped tail lights are certainly a highlight of the new design, which is sharper and good to look at. Also, the new alloy wheels are a visual treat, gelling well with overall contemporary looks of the car.

The design on the new CR-V is a step up of the older one, it is still a sophisticated looking SUV which doesn’t quite have the wild character or presence of SUVs sharing the same segment.  

How’s the new cabin?

Step inside the car and you’ll see how nicely the cabin is bolted with more space, luxury and technology latched side by side to make the inside space as comfortable as it can be. On the driver seat, you are greeted by the all-new fully digital instrument panel which looks class leading by all standards displaying all sort of information you expect from a car.

The dash feels more upmarket and luxurious with much better quality materials than the present car. It gets faux leather trim along with the wood and glossy piano-black highlights. Also, what’s new is the frameless semi-floating touchscreen which looks great. The car supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which can be operated by both the touchscreen navigation and the steering mounted button controls.

The cabin space has been intelligently designed keeping utility, comfort and practicality in mind. It gets generous space for keeping water bottles in the door bins and comes with two large cupholders in the middle, while other storage spaces are good enough for zero complains. Also, the seats on the new CR-V are a big step up as they are very well cushioned for maximum comfort and all around support.

There is loads of room in the second row of the car, the headroom is great, legroom too is generous. Also, the occupants get their own AC vents at the back and throw of air is good enough to keep the cabin chilled no matter how hot it is on the outside. The second row can be pushed back on its sliding rails, which only makes the leg room even better, and the seat can be adjusted for different backrest angles. Overall, the comfort on the second is ever better than expectation.

Jumping on to the third row is, however, a pain, as space is close to nil for adults and is best suited for younger ones on short drives.

When it comes to luggage carrying capacity, both the rows are foldable giving you acres of space in case you want to shift your home in it. 

How’s it to drive?

The car comes with two engine options including the 1997cc 4 cylinder petrol engine with CVT transmission and 1.6-liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine with 99-speed automatic transmission. The petrol unit churns out close to 154 bhp at 6500rpm and 189 Nm of peak torque comes at 4300rpm. While the diesel unit generates 120bhp of maximum power at 4000rpm and 300Nm of peak torque comes at 2000rpm.

Both the engines are fairly smooth, silent and efficient. The petrol unit revs up quickly and delivers power very linearly throughout the rev range. The CVT transmission though sometimes feel lazy while shifting to higher gears but that said, the motor is highly refined and is a bliss to drive on daily city roads.

Talking about the 1.6-liter i-DTEC turbo diesel engine, it is a huge improvement over the current 1.5L diesel as seen on the Honda City. It is significantly refined and also the unwanted diesel clutter is well under control. It feels decently powerful for daily city drives and the diesel lag is almost unnoticeable. Its only when you are on the wide open highways and have space to push the car that you feel perhaps the bi-turbo version of the engine would have helped deliver the extra punch needed while making quick passes. Thanks to its 9 speed automatic transmission which provide extra flexibility, the car stays in the right gear and comfortable power band almost all the time.

It is an easy to drive car weather its highways or city roads. The handling is quick, light, and confidence inspiring. And I won’t mind taking it to winding roads without worrying much about the body roll. It rides like a sedan, which is a strong comparison to make. Thanks to its longer wheelbase and bigger wheels, the cars feels well planted on highway speeds and is simply relaxing to drive. The braking is progressive and calculated. Also, ride and safety features such as Vehicle Stability Assist with Traction Control, ABS, Lane Watch Camera and Electric Brake Booster make it safer car to drive.

Final Words-

The all new CR-V has a very unique combination of engaging driving dynamics, refined & efficient engines, and sophisticated as well as modern looks. The car ticks all the right boxes when it comes to an SUV which is simply easy to drive. When launched next month, it is expected to go on sale in a price bracket near Rs 23 lakh to Rs 28 lakh, anything more than that and CR-V may find a hard time justifying its value of money proposition. 

See 2018 Honda CR-V Image Gallery here!

Photography - Mohd. Nasir

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