An entirely-new CR-V goes on sale in the UK from January 2007. It promises a driving experience as good as a D-sector saloon car, improved equipment levels and Honda’s latest advanced safety technology. All this, and the CR-V remains as practical as ever.
The outgoing model dominated retail sales charts since launch, set new standards in the SUV sector and remains the benchmark vehicle for its impressive road manners and versatility. With the market becoming increasingly crowded, Honda has raised the bar further – the latest CR-V is even better on the road, has a more sophisticated interior and it’s even more practical.
A lower centre of gravity (reduced by 35mm), wider stance (increased by 30mm) and a number of changes to steering and suspension geometry have all helped to enhance the CR-V’s handling characteristics. Steering response is faster and feels more direct, while directional stability and all-round agility also benefit from further development to the car’s chassis.
While the on-road capabilities of the CR-V are much-improved, its off-road skills have been tweaked as well, with a revised Real Time 4WD system that detects front wheel slip and promptly sends torque rearwards. The new system – which, like the outgoing model, features a quiet, dual-pump system with a one-way cam unit – can transfer 20 per cent more torque compared to the existing unit. This 4WD set-up not only allows light off-road driving, but also helps maintain stability on the road – in snow or other slippery conditions, for example.
Improvements made to the driving dynamics are reflected in the styling of the vehicle – a coupe-like tapering side window profile gives the CR-V a similar shape to a car. The front has been given a bold presence, with a distinctive double grille as the focal point, flanked by projector-style headlights and a large bumper. It all makes for a muscular front end, emphasised by the car’s wide track and 17- or 18-inch wheels. At the rear, a vertically-opening tailgate is the main design feature, sandwiched between roof-high strips of lights, and notably, the spare wheel has gone – it’s now hidden under the load compartment floor.
Two active safety systems are available on the new CR-V, and they’re unique to the SUV segment. The first, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is a radar-controlled cruise control function which maintains a set distance to the vehicle in front, while Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) predicts collisions and warns the driver, before applying strong braking and retracting the front seatbelts if the situation becomes critical. Both these systems are optional depending on grade.
Elsewhere, a full complement of passive safety measures includes dual stage SRS front airbags, side airbags for front seat passengers, full length curtain airbags, front and rear seatbelt reminders and active front headrests – all fitted as standard.
The new CR-V also incorporates Trailer Stability Assist (TSA) as standard which together with Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) ensures that towing safety is continuously monitored and corrected. Importantly, towing capacity on the diesel-engined CR-V is increased from 1500kg to a very competitive 2000kg.
Honda anticipates a class-leading Euro NCAP 5-star rating for occupant protection, 4-stars for child protection and a 3-star pedestrian rating. It achieves excellent levels of safety through a strong body structure design, made from 58 per cent high tensile steel.
Active Front Lighting (AFS) – headlights that turn to illuminate the road in the direction the vehicle is heading – also make their way onto the CR-V for the first time. This system uses High-intensity discharge (HID) lamps.
Inside the cabin, accommodation remains generous and the dimensions are similar to the previous CR-V. Load space, however, is extended backwards to take up the space left by the former tailgate-mounted spare wheel. Access has been improved by larger doors that open wider, and lower sills.
The interior is high quality, featuring metallic elements on the dash and doors that contrast with soft textured black trim. Front seats are larger and more comfortable and the steering column is adjustable for reach as well as rake. Relocation of the gear lever to the base of the centre stack brings it closer to the steering wheel and creates more floor space.
Depending on grade, more premium equipment is available, including a driver’s 8-way adjustable power seat, leather upholstery, 19-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors and a rear view camera.
Top spec CR-Vs are equipped with a panoramic glass roof – similar to that found on the Civic – which provides an even lighter cabin. This can be closed off by two electric blinds which are covered in the same material as the roof lining.
The rear seat (split 60:40 at base, 40:20:40 seat back) is able to slide forward to maximise leg room or luggage space and can also recline for added comfort. The centre section folds flat to enable longer items to be carried while still accommodating two rear seat passengers. A huge load area is created by tumbling forward the seats, storing them upright. This is big enough for two mountain bikes with their front wheels still in place.
Added flexibility is provided by a novel ‘Double Deck’ luggage area, created by a shelf that sits at a height of 330mm above the load floor. It means luggage can be subdivided, with that on the lower level more easily accessible. The shelf is also hinged across its width for added convenience. When not in use, the shelf can either be removed or stored snugly in a recess in the floor.
Power comes from a new 2.0-litre petrol or a 2.2 diesel engine. Honda’s celebrated 140PS 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel continues; but as aerodynamic efficiency is improved by 12 per cent, fuel economy proves even better.
The petrol engine is an all-new unit based on the 1.8-litre SOHC i-VTEC from the Civic range. And like that engine the 2.0-litre features latest VTEC and friction reduction technologies, plus the delayed closure of the intake valves combined with a wide open throttle valve during low-load driving conditions. This helps to reduce pumping losses and thus boost fuel economy. Petrol engine models are also equipped with brand new transmissions: all manual gearboxes are 6-speed, while a 5-speed automatic is also available.
Maximum power is 150 PS at 6,200 rpm (lower in the rev range than the current 2.0), while torque is 190Nm (140lb.ft) at 4,200 rpm. The efficiency of the engine, together with improved aerodynamics and new gearboxes, have boosted fuel economy figures. Performance is also enhanced, with the 0 to 62mph time dropping from 10.8 to 10.2 seconds (manual) and from 13.1 to 12.2 seconds (automatic).
The new CR-V will receive its international show debut in Paris on 28 September.