Honda set out to try to redefine the SUV in the face of pressure from the green lobby and its stance on 4x4s. And it’s done it!
For anyone with an ounce of conscience, there’s a problem with 4×4’s these days. And that’s something to do with the amount of publicity that’s given to the big, off-roaders that destroy environments and guzzle away the earth’s resources like there’s no tomorrow. But not anymore…
Honda has been furtively putting forward a new point of view in the run up to the launch of it’s latest baby… And their thought is that 4x4s and SUVs don’t have to be the bad guys in all of this. And Honda really mean it as its latest SUV is the cleanest, most environmentally friendly SUV on the market today. And the strangest thing about these, seemingly lunatic ramblings, is simply this… They’re absolutely right! From the outside things don’t look quite so revolutionary though… even though Honda’s advertising campaign carries a strong, and (uniquely) true message that not all 4×4’s are the same. Honda say that this car is the 4×4 for people with a conscience.
But this time it’s actually safe to believe the hype that the car is, “safer, cleaner, smaller” as the new CR-V is all of these things and even less thirsty than the old model, so how does it now look? Well it’s not that different, although looks are now sharper and by using a coupe-esque rear quarter, the few inches it’s lost in length look a lot more. If you add the fact that the rear tyre has now been slung under the car that 4” reduction in length seems a hell of lot more. Park the new car next to it’s older brother, and it seems very compact by comparison.
And the changes don’t stop there either – the old side opening tailgate has also been replaced by a more family-friendly and familiar hatchback. But it still has its compact SUV looks so it’ll continue to pamper to Ladies that lunch and yet stay cool with the kids! Once you step inside, you quickly get a feel for is a rather luxurious cabin. Materials here have been carefully chosen and nothing look or feels as if it’s been bought in bulk. The instrumentation is particularly classy, and echoes Honda’s stylish colours from the New Civic’s interior, and apes the chrome and blue glow that is strangely attractive Honda uses its Real Time 4WD drive system to give the car its limited off road credentials. With the car’s ground clearance now lowered to 185mm, it’s not really going to be able to tackle anything serious, and if you’re driving through floods I’d not hang about in deep water!
But for everyday ‘offroad’, situations, the 4WD system copes admirably, driving the front wheels full time until any slip is discovered by the computers, at which point power is sent immediately to the rear wheels to compensate. It’s not going to help you ford rivers in Africa, but on mud, snow, ice or just wet fields at the local car boot sale, you won’t be embarrassed by getting your off-roader stuck! So, unlike the general crowd of magazines that ran off to the launch to drive this car for a single day, what did I think of my week with the CR-V? Well, it may seem unfair to begin with, but I’m a bit of a fan of Honda’s 2.2 diesel engine anyway. Many manufacturers will tell you that they built the first aluminium diesel engine. But they didn’t.
The 2.2 i-CDTi engine has a great percentage of aluminium than any of them. So it’s light, precisely engineered, and now some time since it was launched, there are still a scarcity of problems reported with it. And the fact that with a little tinkering, Honda have managed to reduce CO2 emissions even further certainly shows their commitment to reducing emissions for its engines, whatever the reason. I like to believe that this is more to do with customer demand for cleaner engines – especially in the light of the 4×4 protest lobby – than any altruistic motives. But whatever the reasons, what Honda has produced is without doubt the best family SUV for anyone interested in the environment, who thinks that lower emissions ARE important. And Honda would be the first to agree with you –even though the CR-V is expected to sell the majority of units in the 2.2 diesel guise, four out of ten customers are expected to fly in the face of good sense and public opinion and still take the petrol. I’d of course take the diesel.
Not least of all because I am reliably informed by some of our petrol-headed writers, that it drives better than the petrol. I can’t make that comparison but I can make several other and I can tell you that It drives on the road better than any of the SUVs that I’ve driven – even pipping the underrated Toyota RAV- 4 and its complicated but useful computer controlled 4WD. The new BMW 3.0d X5 is a better drive and a better engine, but then for 40-odd thousand pounds, it really should be. My time with the Honda took it down muddy back tracks at high speeds as I raced to meet new deadlines for the magazine now that we’ve gone up 16 pages.
We’ve had to go up a gear or two to get all of the extra stuff included to keep our mag looking good while delivering a wealth of content. And strangely, this is what Honda has done too. The stakes in the SUV/4×4 market have gone up as pressure from both environmental groups and ill-informed local and central governments has brought pressure to bear on 4×4 users. Yet Honda has reacted quickly and gone head-on to meet the challenge with this car to excellent effect. Now all it needs is for the same rules for attracting unwelcome attention to be applied to ALL cars. Certainly the new Honda CR-V stands out as it IS the cleanest, smallest, safest SUV out there at the moment, and we can all now see that this is not a co-incidence, it’s just great engineeering to satisfy a steadily growing demand.
On sale: January 2007 // Price from: £ 19,000 //
Main rivals: Nissan X-Trail,Toyota RAV4, Land Rover Freelander 2
- Price: £19,095
- Engine: 2,204cc 4-cyl common-rail
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 251lb ft at 2,000rpm
- Combined Consumption:43.5mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 173g/km (E)
- 0-62mph: 10.3sec
- Max speed: 116mph
17” alloys,ABS,Vehicle Stability Assist, EBD
Adaptive front lighting, fog lifghts
6-speed transmission, cruise control
Cabin filter, Collision migration Braking System
HD headlights, headlight washers, intermittant wipers
Height and reach adjustable steerring wheel
Stereo CD/Tuner, MP3 socket
Dual curtain SRS airbags front and rear
TSA (Trailer Stability Assist),VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist)
Space saver rear wheel (underbody)
Multifunction drive compter
18 / 19” wheels, Integrated bluetooth phone system
Premium Audio. voice recognistion DVD /Sat Nav
Rear View Parking Camera,Subwoofer
Great on the tarmac! A mixture of poise and muscle from a great engine. Inside the car is impecable and practical. Family friendly at last!
Rear view is restricted. Engine is a little noisy when pushed hard