')">Honda cars have always intrigued me as also irritated me. The reason for that intrigueness is that they manage to be fuel efficient inspite of being fun to drive and fast. The irritation part is because they command a huge premium plus aren’t value for money propositions. Too less equipment for the price that you pay is also a deterrent, atleast to me it is. Even for Honda bikes, the same philosophy applies. Moreover, you have that waiting period on bikes. Nevertheless, my subject today is the Honda CR-V in India and finally a review is on place with an acquaintance of mine giving his CR-V to me for the review. I am no stranger to the Honda CR-V having done the comparison between the Honda CR-V in India versus BMW X1 in India however whenever I approach a car after a pretty much long time, I approach it as an entirely new prospect. Same happens with the CR-V which I am looking at with “Do I know you look?”.
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This soft roader has been the herald of almost all the soft roaders coming into India. It was the first one which actually paved the way for other soft roaders into the country. From a distance, the Honda face is very distinguishable with the twin chrome bar system and somewhat swoopy lines than the earlier somewhat boxy lines. The head lamps seem all over the place with their wide glass thing. The air dam is also integrated with the grille and the fog lamps are embedded deep into the front bumper, just like the old generation Honda Accord. A quick poll in our office resulted in split opinions on the front looks with many thinking that it is an ugly duckling whereas others contradicting it by saying that it is one of the most handsome SUVs that they have seen. Personally, I am with the former. But then move onto the sides of this SUV and you would notice the 185 mm ground clearance along with 225/65 R17 tyre configuration. The wheel arches are covered by a black plastic. Alloy wheel design? Nothing spectacular. The ORVMs however are big and have the turn indicators embedded into them.
The coupe like stance towards the rear with the quarter glass near the luggage area does signify its crossover roots. The rear however with its vertical tail lamps isn’t the industry standard now and the Honda CR-V in India now begs for a revamp overall. The bumper is also covered in black plastic. The reflectors rest on this black plastic covered bumper whereas the tail pipe seems out of place on this crossover.
The Honda CR-V in India boasts of having one of those fantastic interiors that we get to see mostly in German cars. Part of this is due to the use of beige for the upholstery and as we all are aware, Indians love the beige color whereas in US, it is mostly black. Don’t know why they don’t like black people much. Instead of sounding racial here, I would rather concentrate on the interiors. Touching any surface doesn’t yield any nasty surprises. Infact, everything feels soft to touch. The Honda CR-V gets the much needed audio controls on the steering wheel. Like I said, don’t expect much in terms of features and so like all modern cars get Bluetooth function, this one doesn’t. Good that cruise control has been offered now. The music system is a 6 CD changer with AUX and USB input. The steering wheel is rake and reach adjustable. Unlike the Honda Civic, there is no in your face digital readout. The front seats are 8 way adjustable and ingress/egress isn’t a problem here. The gear lever has been shifted to the dash and this liberates lot of space for various knip knacks. Storage spaces in and around the cabin abound in plenty. Plus the door map pockets are deep and don’t scratch the fingers when you delve deep. The rear seats are also very comfortable. More for taller people as I found out. It has got that 40:20:40 split seating arrangement which is not only comfortable for passengers but also for loading any heavy luggage. There are dedicated AC vents for the rear seat passengers and just below it, you get some storage space as well.
The dual zone climate control also cools the cabin very quickly. Moreover with a slide lever, one can also move the rear seat according to one’s requirements. The Honda CR-V in India boasts of 565 liters of boot space. The hatch opens upwards and not sideways. Stow away the middle row seats and you are greeted with 955 liters of luggage space. Overall a feeling of ambience and space abounds inside the cabin of this SUV. The sloping coupe like roofline doesn’t hinder the head room even for taller passengers.
Honda CR-V Photo Gallery
Handling and ride quality
The Honda CR-V in India is built on the Honda Civic platform and its monocoque construction ensures that the CR-V is the easiest amongst the soft roaders to drive around. It steering wheel though light doesn’t give enough feedback when pushed around hard. Sufficient weight at high speeds is sometimes missing. However it is pretty direct for everyday use. The 185 mm ground clearance comes in handy when the going gets rough. But then it isn’t a true off-roader. There is no low ratio present as well. It however gets an on-demand 4 wheel drive system which senses which wheel is losing traction and accordingly sends power to that wheel. The handling is a revelation and the stiffly sprung suspension plays a big part in this. It is more like some one has elevated the height of the Honda Accord and its been made to attack corners with gusto. I remember the CR-V giving BMW X1 some tough competition in the handling stakes. For most of the buyers and even enthusiasts, this one should be a good handling taller Accord. Ride quality in the meanwhile is a bit lumpy at low speeds with the CR-V transmitting most of the bumps into the cabin. However up the speeds and very few bumps filter through into the cabin. I am sure most of the buyers would be ready to trade off this slight lumpy speed and take the handling of this soft roader instead as a bonus. NVH till speeds of 140 kmph are bearable and after that the Vtec roar is evident enough. However few of the owners would rarely go upto this speeds.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Honda CR-V in India boasts of two engine options. While I had the higher spec 2.4 auto transmission with me, there is also another 2 liter engine as an option.The former makes 161 bhp at 5800 rpm whereas the torque figure reads as 22.2 kgm at 4200 rpm. It is mated with a 5 speed automatic transmission. This translates to 0-100 kmph timings of 10.33 seconds. The top speed is a bit over 200 kmph and the I-vtec engine doesn’t disappoint with its heady rush of acceleration towards the top of the rev range. However the conventional 5 speed auto transmission is a bit lazy to kickdown as I experienced. Overtaking maneuvers have to be taken with considerations on whether the transmission would be able to do it at a higher gear or not. However the gear box also incorporates a manual mode and I found out that overtaking ain’t a chore and nor is brisk progress in this mode. The taller gearing of the CR-V is more for highway runs. There is a 6 speed manual transmission also and this would make sense for those looking for thrills in the engine.
The 2.0 liter engine of the Honda CR-V makes 143 Bhp of peak power at 6000 rpm whereas the 190 Nm of torque is made at 4200 rpm. The 6 speed manual is standard here and there is no auto option. This engine though smaller is up for some good action from the driver. It races from 0-100 kmph in 12.38 seconds whereas the top speed is 180 kmph. Both the 2.0 and 2.4 liter engined CR-Vs get discs brakes along with Brake Assist, EBD and ABS. As far as safety is concerned, there are 6 air bags, Honda’s G-CON construction, seat belts with pretensioners and a collapsible steering column.Now brake bite from the discs was good, the brake pedal feel left a bit to be desired.It was a bit spongy. The Honda CR-V in India has got Achilles heels and not heel. The first one is the fuel efficiency and the second one, I would tell you later on when the verdict part comes. The fuel efficiency that I got with some careful driving was 8.6 kmpl in city and 11.3 kmpl on the highway. The manual transmission however gets this figure up by a notch by returning 8.8 kmpl in city and 11.6 kml on the highway. The 2.0 liter in the meanwhile offers fuel efficiency of 9.1 kmpl in city and 12.4 kmpl on the highway.
Well the review completed and now its time for some pondering. The Honda CR-V has been around almost in the same form since the time it was launched in India in 2003 and it still is the best selling soft roader in its segment by a good margin. Trust me, it’s a petrol motor or rather motors that we talking about. Other competitors have got only diesels (Chevy Captiva) or a mix of both (the recent BMW X1 being a good example). But then the Honda reliability and other factors are something which counts. The Honda refinement is also in a league of its own. Now coming back to the other Achilles heel of this car. It’s price. The Honda CR-V price in India strats at Rs 26.33 lakhs. This is for the automatic version whereas the manual would go for a lakh less. The 2.0 liter variant is priced at Rs 22.5 lakhs. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai prices. The good thing is that inspite of all these high prices, the Honda CR-V still sells reasonably well. Can’t justify the premium that this car commands. Now Honda buckle up your shoes and get the prices down. Did I hear that Honda is thinking of raising prices? Yes, its true. If you want to buy a CR-V later on, then be prepared to shell out approximately Rs 30 lakhs for the top end petrol variant, on-road. If it is a diesel that you thinking of getting, then the price would be close to Rs 35 lakhs (its an estimate, knowing Honda and its pricing policies).