motioncars
Honda CR-V (2010) Driven
 
Although the Honda CR-V has only been around for three generations, it has become one of the country's most recognized and sought after vehicles. Known for its comfort, agility and practicality, it has charmed its way to the Filipino car enthusiast's garage. And a trip anywhere in Metro Manila isn't complete without seeing at least a dozen CR-Vs plying the streets. Of course, when it first entered the market, it was only one of two compact SUVs available in the market; the other one being Toyota's RAV4. However, things are different now: there are at least six other competitors all vying for the same market and this doesn't even include compact sedans with two liters of displacement.

So what's Honda to do? Simple: keep the CR-V as fresh and as up-to-date as possible. Although the current model was launched just in 2007, Honda was quick to put out a refreshed model in just a bit less than three years time. However, are these changes enough or could more have been done to keep it as the Philippines's most well-rounded compact SUV? Only a long drive can answer this burning question, and that's exactly what Honda Cars Philippines had us do when we brought the 2010 CR-V up north to La Union.

Subtle Changes Inside and Out

From a passing glance, it's very hard to notice what's new with the 2010 CR-V. In fact, the only way to appreciate the changes would be to park it side-by-side with the 2007 CR-V. Honda says that the changes were intentionally subtle since they're already proud with the current design. And who could blame them? Personally, I like the CR-V's fluidic design, even before its facelift. Proportionately, it's smaller than some compact SUVs, but its wider stance and long wheelbase actually make its effective interior room much bigger. The curvaceous lines have sometimes been criticized as being too effeminate, but it looks quite right amidst Manila's urban jungle.

For the 2010 model, Honda grafted on brand new bumpers that lessen the CR-V's unpainted portions. This makes the CR-V visually lower than before, which my passenger car loving persona absolutely loves (I'm not a big fan of tall SUVs). As a prerequisite with the bumper changes, the front fog lamps and the rear reflectors have been reshaped giving it a much more squinted look. All CR-Vs run on standard 17-inch alloys, but have been given a new redesign for the 2010 model. The 2.0-liter S model has been given a 7-spoke design, while the range-topping 2.4-liter S-X model has a sportier 5-spoke design. All would have been good with the CR-V's redesign if not for the split-grille design, which up to now, I still don't get. I was never a big fan of it, and though the 2010 model tries to visually integrate it better, it still looks odd.

Like its exterior, interior changes to the 2010 CR-V are fairly minor. All CR-Vs get a USB plug for full Apple iPod control--this makes Honda the only car manufacturer to almost completely implement full iPod connectivity in its cars (the exception being the Jazz). The front arm rests (the only one in its class to have this feature) has been slightly widened and lengthened for increased comfort. Even the seat materials on both models have been revised. On the 2.0-liter, it gets a new jersey fabric material, while on the 2.4-liter gets black leather with color-coordinated stitching.

What You Don't See Matters

As Honda has always been known to be an engineering-centric car company, the CR-V facelift isn't complete without minor tuning changes done to the oily bits. Sadly, drivetrain-wise, nothing's been changed with the 2010 model so horsepower and torque figures remain the same: 150 horsepower for the 2.0-liter and 170 horsepower for the 2.4-liter. And Honda has decided to forego paddle shifters for this update as well, which is a big shame as even the 1.5-liter City has them already. Oh well, maybe during the next facelift perhaps?

Changes to the CR-V's mechanicals are strictly limited to the suspension components to make it even more comfortable and responsive than before. First up is the slight change in the 2010 CR-V's caster which has been pushed in. And then, you have much more sound insulation put in key areas to make it quieter, especially at high speeds.

Before heading off for the long drive up to La Union, Honda wanted to highlight the CR-V's revamped suspension by pitting it with an identically-speced 2007 model. Going through a slalom course, it's immediately noticeable how the 2010 CR-V requires less steering input to go through the cones. Plus, it can carry higher speeds with less body roll and lean. It's all a big plus, especially for occupants who feel car sick easily: the CR-V's much more resistant to boat-like movements.

The Capable and Comfortable Cruiser


Fitting three healthy journalists into each CR-V, our group drew the 2.0-liter S model for the trip to La Union and the 2.4-liter S-X on the way back. Going there, I braced myself thinking how we'll be left behind by the rest of the convoy which was composed of a 3.5-liter Accord and two other 2.4-liter CR-Vs. Still, the 2.0-liter CR-V managed, but you do have to work hard to keep up. At city speeds, there's almost thing to distinguish these two CR-Vs apart, but as the speeds built up, the 2.0-liter needs some major pedal mashing to get decent acceleration. At full throttle, the five-speed automatic shows some hesitation to downshift. And even when it does, the power delivery is peaky--with most of its push available at higher revs. Sometimes, we found ourselves turning the overdrive off in order to coax the transmission to keep the engine speeds up. It's times like these we wished for a paddle shifter.

Meanwhile, the 2.4 S-X proves that there's still no replacement for displacement. The extra 400 ccs help a lot, especially when overtaking pesky tricycles. But if you're looking to fulfill your speed fix with the 2.4-liter engine, think again. You still need to be lead-footed with the accelerator since the drive-by-wire system seems unwilling to downshift. During an overtaking attempt, you find yourself having to think ahead. You have to mash the gas pedal a full second or two even before trying the overtaking--something you don't experience with cars like the Honda Accord or even the Subaru Forester. That said, the 2.4-liter does provide a sportier but gruffer note between the two engines though constant hard acceleration does make the fuel economy suffer. During the course of the 3-day trip, we managed only 7.8 km/L on the 2.4 S-X, while we did 10.3 km/L on the 2.0 S. That said, if you acted gingerly with the gas pedal throughout the trip (which we experimented on the way back), you can achieve similar fuel mileage figures on the 2.4-liter like that of the 2.0-liter.

In terms of on-road dynamics, both CR-V models performed similarly: safe and predictable. For this generation of CR-V, Honda embraced the notion of a sedan on stilts rather than doing a full-blown SUV; and so they traded all off-roading pretentions for on-road comfort and responsiveness. Through twisty bends, the CR-V keeps itself under control with minimal body roll. The steering is nicely weighted too. The brakes are also impressive--easy to modulate and bite with considerate force when needed to. Though it could be because of over-inflated tires, we found that the 2.0-liter model had a much more compliant ride than the 2.4-liter. While there was nothing to complain about the entry-level CR-V, the 2.4 S-X was bouncing all over the place, especially when it hit broken tarmac.

While you're not doing the driving duties in the CR-V, you will revel at the extreme levels of comfort in here. Whether you're sitting at the front or at the back, there's room to lounge around. We particularly love the flat rear floor which enables us to stretch our knees around. The seat support for both models is particularly good, but the 2.4 S-X does feel a bit firmer, perhaps because of the leather material. Even the ventilation system is very adept at taking the summer time sun, though the manual system on the 2.0 S does need some time to cool down. Ergonomically, the CR-V's the best in its class with all the controls clearly marked and within easy reach. And even the materials used and the build quality are top-notch, though the 2.0 S does feel a tad plainer, especially after trying out the 2.4 S-X.

Still the Well-Rounded SUV

At the end of this roughly 550 kilometer trip, I find myself asking if the Honda CR-V is still the well-rounded SUV we've come to love. The answer is still a resounding yes! Although there are much more specialized and perhaps more individualistic choices out there that value performance (Subaru Forester) or value (Ford Escape), you cannot deny that the CR-V manages to blend all of these aspects and then some. You surely will not win any stoplight duels or any beauty pageants, but if there's only one space in your garage for a compact crossover, the Honda CR-V's still the best choice for you. This is one car that delivers on its promise.

By Ulysses Ang | Photos By Ulysses Ang
Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven Honda CR-V (2010) Driven

 

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Below Expectations: Toyota Echo (2001)
April 15, 2001
Civic Revolution: Honda Civic (2001)
April 15, 2001
White Collared Brawl: Honda Accord and BMW 523i (2001)
March 12, 2001
Bus Driving 101: Mercedes-Benz MB100 (2001)
March 12, 2001
Everyday Transport: Toyota Corolla (2001)
February 5, 2001
Beautiful Day: Toyota RAV4 (2001)
February 5, 2001
Civilized Monster: Ford Explorer (2000)
December 18, 2000
Empty Space: Mitsubishi Spacegear (2000)
November 18, 2000
First Class Effort: Hyundai Starex (2000)
November 18, 2000
Service Please! Nissan Cefiro Classic Long-Term Test Update (1998)
November 18, 2000
Astra La Vista: Opel Astra (2000)
September 18, 2000
Old World Brute: Nissan Patrol Safari
September 18, 2000
Newly Hatched: Toyota Echo (2000)
September 18, 2000
Goodbye Beetle: Toyota Echo (2000)
August 15, 2000
Steer Flick'n Good: Audi A4 (2000)
July 9, 2000
No Lucky Stars: Ford Taurus GL (1998)
June 11, 2000
Simply Bulletproof: The Honda Accord VTi-L Long-Term Test Update (1998)
June 11, 2000
Still Life: Mitsubishi Lancer (2000)
May 13, 2000
Living with America: Ford F150 (2000)
April 16, 2000
Civic Minded: Honda Civic (2000)
February 20, 2000
Ford Lynx Ghia (2000) Driven
January 18, 2000
White Lightning: Honda Civic (1999)
December 18, 1999
The Lost World: Volkswagen Polo Classic (1998)
December 12, 1999
Against All Odds: Mazda 323 (1999)
September 29, 1999
Warp Speed Transport: Nissan Sentra Super Saloon (1995)
August 30, 1999
Complete Change of Mind: Nissan Cefiro (1997) Long-Term Test Update
August 30, 1999
Honda City LXi (1999)
July 12, 1999
Alternative Nature: Mitsubishi Galant (1999)
June 20, 1999
The Bavarian Delight: BMW 328Ci (1999)
May 15, 1999
Alpha and Omega: Opel 2.5 V6 Omega (1999)
February 5, 1999
Opel Vectra (2.0 (1999) Driven
January 1, 1999
The Daily Nightmare: Nissan Cefiro (1998)
December 1, 1998
VTEC with a Vengeance: Honda Accord (1998)
November 10, 1998