2012 Honda CR-V

The Good:
– Great fuel economy
– Cabin space and practicality
– Decent handling
The Bad:
– Basic gearbox & no low-range
– Noticeable road noise
– Hard cabin plastics

The Honda CR-V has been a sales hit ever since it debuted in 1995 as an answer to the Toyota RAV4, the latter essentially inventing the compact crossover segment a year earlier. The all-new 2012 Honda CR-V barely hit showrooms when we got our hands on a test vehicle, but apparently the new model is a runaway success in the GCC already.

The new CR-V certainly looks better than the controversial outgoing model. It also looks longer, but in reality, it is still roughly the same size as before, even as cabin space has been magically increased. Our top-spec car had 18-inch alloys, which were the only external indication that it was a top-spec car, aside from the HID headlights at night. It now competes in pricing with fancier vehicles like the Ford Edge and the VW Tiguan, which can’t be a good thing.

The cabin will be familiar to any previous CR-V owner. Entry is easy thanks to the low floor, while that high-mounted gear shifter on the centre-console has become a trademark. The hard plastics also return in this new model, with only the armrests receiving any sort of padding, aside from the creamy leather seats. Still, the textures look nice enough.

Space inside is remarkable, with great legroom and headroom all around, and moderately-bolstered front seats as well as mildly-reclinable rear seats. We wish it had a wee bit more knee-room up front, although we improved that by re-adjusting to a lower seating position and extending the telescoping steering-wheel. Boot space is great under that lightweight tailgate, and can be further increased by flipping down the split rear-seats flat at the pull of a lever. There are plenty of cup-holders too, with three covered ones up front and two in the rear armrest, as well as bottle-holders and pockets in all doors.

But the quirkiness of the old model is gone now. For instance, there is now one glovebox instead of two. The boot does not have a double-decker configuration now. And there is no walkthrough centre-console any more, replaced by a traditional one.

The feature set is good though, at least in the top EX-L model. Our car came with a half-decent 6-speaker CD/MP3 stereo with AUX/USB ports, working Bluetooth, LCD info screen with rear camera function, HID headlights, power driver’s seat, strong dual-zone auto a/c with rear vents, cruise control, front and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry, sunroof and a few other items. There’s even an overhead “conversation” mirror to look at rear passengers from the front, and it also doubles as a sunglasses-holder, but there ‘s nothing fancier than that, such as smart keyless start, panoramic sunroofs or even overdone LEDs.

It does come with an updated 2.4-litre 4-cylinder “i-VTEC” engine, now good for 188 hp at 7000 rpm and 222 Nm of torque at 4400 rpm, still mated to an aging 5-speed automatic. But Honda says they’ve still managed to eke out better fuel economy, because that’s what the people wanted, damnit. The trip computer spit out a figure of 11.2 litres/100 km, which is very impressive and very believable, as we barely used half-a-tank of petrol over our May weekend test. It is also quicker than before, but only just, as we recorded a consistent 0-100 kph time of 10.2 seconds.

It is not a fast car by any means, but the high-revving motor performs adequately in traffic situations, largely thanks to the smartly-tuned gearbox. It even takes off from a standstill without any wheelspin, due to a new all-wheel-drive system that now also works in dry conditions as needed.

Handling is very good, entertaining even. Body roll is limited, cornering lean is quelled quickly, and grip levels are more than adequate from the 225/60 tyres. Even with the limited feedback from the mildly-weighted steering and the soft brake-pedal feel, it can be hustled as quickly as any compact hatchback. But don’t get too cocky, as the ABS-assisted brakes are average rather than neck-snapping.

The consequence of this nimbleness is that the CR-V rides a bit firmer than we’d expect from a family car, just like the old model. The ride is smooth as long as the road is smooth, but some rougher surfaces bring out a bit of jitteriness, while road noise and wind noise are prominent after 100 kph. There is no floatiness though, so you’ll never feel like puking up your lunch when the roads go up-and-down in quick succession.

If anyone thinks they can take their CR-V offroad, and we know some who think they can, we’ll warn you right now to stop dreaming. Despite that offroad-ready front bumper, the CR-V was not designed for anything more than the beach, and does not come with low-range gearing. Theoretically, the new all-wheel-drive system will handle soft sand better than before, but there is no recourse if you get stuck.

So the new Honda CR-V is same and different, depending on how you look at it. If you were fine with the ride, space, power, efficiency and ambience of the outgoing model, you’re guaranteed to love this one. But if you were one of the 13 oddball CR-V fanboys in this world who actually used the double-decker boot and can’t live without two glove-boxes, then you will be disappointed. Somehow, we think the majority of buyers won’t even notice those things missing.

Price Range:
Dh 99,000-122,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2012

Body Styles:
5-door wagon

Engines:
2.4L 188 hp Inline-4 / 222 Nm

Transmissions:
5-speed automatic

Setup:
Four-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1545-1595 kg

Length:
4550 mm

Wheelbase:
2620 mm

Top Speed:
199 kph

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
10.2 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
11.2 litres/100km

12 comments to 2012 Honda CR-V

  • Haseef

    Nice review

  • Waleed

    Very impressive review.I own the ’12 CR-V and I’m planning to upgrade my car, so which one should i go for? CR-V, Edge or Tiguan?

    • raazaa

      So which car did you go for Waleed? I am looking for an SUV and my options are similar to yours, except that instead of Tiguan I am considering Tourag. Also Murano is in my list too.

      Would be nice to hear which car you eventually settled for.

  • jonnie

    Basic 5-speed 2.4L crv for 99K? I’d rather have the Kia Sorento 6-speed 3.5L for 85K. its way more spacious and faster and better looking.

  • Ahmad Al Sabban

    Thx for the good review Mr.Chowdhury

    i wanted to confirm one point , does the new cr-v comes with rear parking sensors?? ( In Saudi Arabia version we do not have rear or front sensors (

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury

      On checking, it looks like the CR-V does not have sensors. But the camera is good enough.

  • Riyaz

    I find it hard to agree that the looks have improved. The new CRV, especially the rear-end deisgn looks ugly to me. Something has gone wrong with Honda’s designing team, model by model they are making it worse than older models. Look at the boat-like design of Accord and also at what they did to a perfect looked Civic. Their Korean and American rivals are doing very good in bringing out the new designs with a themed brand identity. Honda has lost such an identity in their designs. Beneath the shell they are maintaining the Honda quality but lookwise I think they taking few steps back while others are running forward.

  • Nitin Bhaskar

    Bought the very first 2012 CRV in the UAE
    UGLY as hell , front looks like a Kia , all hard plastics inside , but very practical .
    Feature packed too , but the engine is gutless at low rpms and noisy when accelerating till around 3500 rpm from where it behaves itself. Idle rpm vibration exists too , never expected this from Honda.
    Bought it for its fantastic reliability record

  • Mohamed Faruk

    A lot of difference can be seen in the quality of Japan built CRV and American built CRV. Starting from the external door handles, the nice mat finish texture over the dash board, thick internal door handles….. many things to mention about the quality of 2011 CRV. All those are traded for a rear view camera. I miss the previous generation CRV.

  • namelessone

    As a kia sportage owner (2.0 2011) and now a honda crv owner i can give my thoughts on owning the two cars.
    kia – good looking car, well priced and packed with decent saftey and convienent feature (usb music, parking sensor, sunroof etc) for 73000. i sold it for 60000 after 2 years and 50k on the clock. other than service cost (first 20k free) didnt spend any money on it. now to the reasons why i sold it. engine, not running smooth very rough on idle, black smoke from the exhaust, smell of raw petrol in the cabin, car ignition disabled ( 6 times in 2 years eachntime had to return to dealer for repair. Slooowwwwww dealer service – car would be in dealer 2-3 days for service. cost of service was on par with tyota or honda for smilar vehicle.

    all in all the car served us well but it was hinting at potential issues (engine) and i did not want to take risk with car breaking down with family and kids using it primarily. may be nothing would happen but the comfort factpr just wasnt there.

    honda crv 12 – first of all i agree with the general feedbck it is over priced. by at least 25 percent compared to its competetion. i got the lx model for 99k and even with freebies (parking sensor, bluetooth, tinting) it still misses the sunroof, camera, usb audio and free 20k service form a whopping 28k difference between the sportage. the plus are bigger engine, more rear passenger space, bigger cargo and better fuel efficiency – that are value add for families. i am getting around 100kms per gas fill up more or around 20percent better mileage that roughly translates to about 20aed per fill for an average of 1000 aed per year saving. not much but a saving none the less.

    on the plus side for crv, its a much more smooth engine, hopefully decent reliability (although its us made :p) and decent resale ( although i dont think i will get close to the resale of the sportage) 20% depreciation in 2 years!
    i just feel a whole lot more relaxed with the family using the crv given its proven motor.
    do i feel i have overpaid? depends on what you are looking for…its a family hauler, need the space for the 2 kids and the easy access cargo bay (lowered) makes it easy to load cargo.
    in hindsight i would have been more comfortable with a maximum of 90k for the lx model. hopefully resale will be decent and wont lose too much when we trade up the car in future for a 7 seater.

  • shameem

    I am using Honda CRV 2012 for last three months, facing some problem with the front seat. Always driver seat coming down by itself, so I need to adjust everyday. According to service Centre, its normal….strange.