First drive: 2017 Honda CR-V in the UAE
Honda is adding to their portfolio of redesigned models with the introduction of the all-new 2017 CR-V in the UAE and GCC. Completely different, yet familiar as a CR-V, the compact crossover has some new tricks up its sleeve.
First off, it has grown in size, gaining more wheelbase in the process as well. Space inside is very good, and the boot is quite possibly the biggest in its class, as we compared it to a Nissan X-Trail, a Hyundai Tucson and a Toyota RAV4 which all happened to be parked nearby with the doors unlocked. There are all sorts of storage spaces, especially in the centre console, and the cabin materials have have improved with further use of soft-touch padded trim (except on the rear-door window sills which have hard plastic panels with fake “stitches” moulded in).
There are also tons of features, such as cruise control, height-adjustable power tailgate, new capacitive touchscreen with Android-based software, Apple CarPlay and a proper volume knob. And there are tons of optional accessories on offer, such as body kits and rear headrest-mounted iPad holders to go with the numerous USB ports (the latter negating the need for an expensive rear-entertainment system).
Safety features include the usual front airbags (side/curtain only on the Touring), ABS, ESP and tyre-pressure monitor as mandated by law now, while Honda also offers the LaneWatch right-lane camera, rear camera and driver-drowsiness monitor on higher models.
There are four trim levels, with the DX and LX only coming in front-wheel-drive form, while the EX and Touring come only in all-wheel-drive form. All of them look largely the same visually, with fancy LED running lights up front and in the rear, although the AWD models gain 18-inch alloys instead of the standard 17-inchers, and the Touring gets its own unique wheel design.
Unfortunately, the GCC-spec CR-V does not get the 1.5-litre turbo engine from the Civic RS, instead still making do with a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder with direct-injection, good for 184 hp at 6400 rpm and 244 Nm of torque at 3900 rpm, so the figures aren’t too different from the turbo motor. The motor is mated to a CVT automatic that has the option to simulate 7 ratios in “sport” mode using paddle shifters. Power was just about adequate as we drove with a full load of four passengers, and the responsive CVT was admirable in that it wasn’t always obvious it’s a CVT. The paddle-shifters even do a convincing act of shifting and holding gears.
The 2WD version has a rated fuel consumption of 15.5 km/l (6.5 litres/100 km), while the AWD version is rated at 14.7 km/l (6.8 litres/100 km) on account that the latter is heavier and its all-wheel-drive sends just over 50% of the power to the rear wheels during hard acceleration for better traction.
Indeed, there are lots of little changes to the CR-V that could fill a dictionary, such as an electric brake booster to maintain pedal firmness better than a vacuum one; the reprogrammed CVT that better matches the amount of acceleration to the revs of the engine to avoid that rubber-band effect; and the dual-pinion electric power steering with variable ratios for less turning during parking.
Driving the CR-V is drama-free, as the car behaves exactly as you want it too. The ride is largely smooth, while the moderate cabin-noise levels at highway speeds were about level with most others in this class. The handling is largely predictable in casual daily driving, with a slight bias towards the softer side noticeable when going over speed bumps. The steering offers some semblance of feedback and is a bit on the firm side. And the brakes were progressive with a well-weighted pedal.
While we didn’t drive the CR-V with enough freedom to really get a feel for it, it seems like a solid product that could very well be the best in its class. Pricing is said to be between Dhs 89,000 and Dhs 120,000, which isn’t a bad value proposition considering the amount of engineering on offer under the skin, even if fancier active-safety tech features have been left out for our market.
For updates, visit the Honda buyer guide.
Photos by Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury and Honda.