THERE’S no hiding the fact that Honda’s popular CR-V Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) wagon is a city slicker.
Sure, it comes with an improved Real Time four-wheel-drive system and can probably handle its fair share of off-road action, but only a handful of its buyers have any inclination towards getting the CR-V muddy.
This has pretty much been the case since the likable wagon first arrived in 1997.
Despite being one of the least rugged of the compact and mid-sized 4WDs going around, it has been one of Honda’s biggest sellers. There have been more than 2.5 million sold world-wide and around 91,000 in Australia.
The latest machine makes it even more obvious that CR-V is designed as a “soft-roader’’. Let’s face it, that’s what the market wants.
The new version of the Honda wagon is more urban-friendly than ever. It has been made more “car-like’’, with a lower stance, revised suspension, better handling and added safety.
For all the refinements, price has been kept down (from $31,990) thanks to cost savings gained from it being built in Thailand, like the Honda Civic, Jazz and Accord.
The third-generation CR-V range is available in three variants – CR-V, CR-V Sport and CR-V Luxury.
All models feature a 2.4-litre DOHC i-VTEC engine that offers 125kW of power and an improved Real-Time 4WD system for sure-footed handling on slippery road surfaces.
Engine torque is 218Nm, with a flatter torque curve than the outgoing model making for smoother acceleration and easier driving.
The power might be up 7kW on the outgoing model, but the performance gain isn’t that noticeable due to a weight gain of 55-65kg.
There’s a choice of a slick new six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission with a Drive-by-Wire throttle.
Fuel economy is good for the class, with CR-V averaging around 10.0 litres for every 100 km covered.
The third-generation is the safest CR-V to date, with all variants featuring Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), front and side airbags with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), Active Front Head Restraints, ABS brakes and an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure for greater safety protection in a crash. The CR-V Sport and Luxury gain curtain airbags.
Backing its safety credentials is the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which awarded the CR-V a five star rating for both front and side impact crash tests.
Honda says it has improved CR-V’s handling by benchmarking it against sedans, rather than SUVs.
This is clearly evident and has resulted in a wagon with the space and comfort of an SUV, but the feel of a car.
Its centre of gravity has been lowered, the track is wider and the chassis has been stiffened for better handling.
The CR-V rides on front MacPherson strut suspension and rear multi-link suspension with 17-inch wheels.
The Honda comfortably seats five and flexible seating makes it a dream for families or those needing to cart equipment for sporting pursuits.
CR-V has a long list of comfort features, including cruise control, a tilt and telescopic adjustable steering wheel fitted with audio controls, MP3-capable CD player with AM/FM tuner and speed sensitive audio volume that automatically adjusts to match the speed of the car.
All variants also have an audio input jack in the centre console for plugging in a personal MP3 player.
The CR-V Sport and CR-V Luxury both feature a sunroof, fog-lights and a six-stack CD-player while the Luxury also receives heated front leather seats.
All attributes considered, the latest version of the Honda CR-V wagon is sure to find plenty of favour with those who want to look adventurous, but really can’t do without their creature comforts.
What’s new for 2007
Standard safety equipment includes ACE Body Structure and Active Front
Active Front Head Restraints
Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
New body and chassis design results in smoother, more agile car-like performance and quieter cabin
Seven more kilowatts (to 125kW)
Standard front and side airbags with Occupant Position Detection System,
Curtain airbag for Sport & Luxury
New six-speed manual transmission
Improved ingress/egress with optimised door designs and 32mm lower step-in height
Dual-deck cargo shelf
Unit-body construction with independent front and rear suspension
All models are powered by a 2.4-litre DOHC engine with i-VTEC, with:
125 kilowatts of power and 218 Newton meters of torque
5 speed automatic or 6 speed manual
ABS with EBD and Brake Assist
Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
Dual front airbags
Front side airbags with Occupant Position Detection System
Front active headrests
Steering wheel mounted Cruise controls
Steering wheel mounted audio controls
Manual air conditioning
5 x 3 point seat belts
17” steel wheels with a full size spare.
Tilt & telescopic steering
Single CD tuner with MP3 & WMA capacity
Speed sensitive audio volume
Auxiliary audio input to connect to i-Pods
CR-V Sport (as CR-V above, plus)
Front and rear curtain airbags
Dual zone climate control
5 spoke 17” alloy wheels with a full-size alloy spare
Two-way Electric sunroof
6 CD stack tuner
Double deck cargo shelf
CR-V Luxury (as CR-V Sport above, plus)
Heated front seats
8-way electric driver’s seat with
electrically operated lumbar support
Leather steering wheel
Reverse parking sensors