Honda CR-V: The best gets better

Honda CR-V: The best gets better

Friday, December 04, 2020

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The fifth generation of the Honda CR-V has been its best iteration yet. So when it was time to update the current model for 2021, there wasn't the need to change much, just enough of a nip and tuck, and a few technology upgrades to keep it at the top of the compact crossover sport utility pack.

Externally, the already distinctive CR-V gets some slight sculpting to make it stay that way. It's still sporty with its large aggressive front grille, new lower bumper design with LED fog lamps, smoked rear LED lights, and a sleeker rear spoiler. There are some new chrome accents and under the muscular wheel arches are newly available 18-inch wheels.

The interior is where the CR-V always shines. There's still the spaciousness the model is known for and once down into the powered leather front seats one can sense a bit more quality from the cabin, helped by the light smattering of wood grain trim. That and the fact that like many more upscale luxury models the CR-V's driver's seat moves to aid ingress and egress before return to one of the two memory stored positions linked to the vehicle's keys. Soft materials are all at the key contact points and it's easy to find a comfortable position without impinging on rear passenger space. Opening the large panoramic sunroof further enhances the feeling of expansiveness inside.

Cargo is never a problem. The power tailgate can be remote opened and has programmable height adjustment. There is 994 litres of cargo space with the 60/40 split rear seats that can be configured for whatever is being carried. Around the cabin storage solutions are sizeable and aplenty.

Controls will fall to hand for those familiar with the brand as the ergonomics place major use items, like the dual-zone climate control, within arm's reach. The digital instrumentation is large and clear as is the seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system. There's plenty of connectivity through the usual methods, USB and Bluetooth, with the system able to connect to an external Wi-Fi source and broadcasting that within the vehicle. There are plenty of extra USB ports to go around for front and rear passengers. The sound quality is high with its 180-watt, eight-speaker audio system and the infotainment responses quickly to user inputs, from the screen or using the steering wheel mounted controls. Android smartphones owners can forgo the factory infotainment by plugging in and using Android Auto.

Honda's sporting DNA can be felt in every inch of the CR-V on the road. At first, occupants will be enveloped in the isolation of the cabin as the Honda rolls effortless when performing standard sport utility duties like shuttling family and friends in an urban environment. Automatic Brake Hold makes light work of traffic. Press a button to activate Honda LANEWATCH. This brings up a live video stream of the opposite side of the CR-V, great for keeping an eye on other cars and helping with parking along with the parking sensors. The 1.5-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder engine is flexible enough to move efficiently at low speeds in ECO mode.

This softness does come at the expense of a lack of control. With a deeper press of the throttle drivers can utilose the 188bhp and 177lb/ft of torque. The engine is always ready to stretch its legs and the rest of the drivetrain is up to the task. The CV-R does its job of holding the engine in its maximum power range. All-wheel drive, a very compliant suspension, and a tight feeling chassis, inspires confidence at faster speeds giving the CR-V a more car-like driving experience than many class rivals.

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