The heavily updated 2015 Honda CR-V Series II has been on sale for a few months now, but we’ve only just had our first chance to put the new-look SUV through the CarAdvice garage.
The particular Honda CR-V model you see here isn’t entirely indicative of the styling changes that the Japanese brand has made to its mid-sized SUV, with this VTi-L petrol four-wheel drive variant being fitted with a Modulo sports body kit.
As standard, the VTi-L petrol 4WD comes in at $42,290 plus on-road costs, and is thoroughly well kitted for the cost: highlights include leather trim, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors and reverse-view camera, HID headlights and LED cornering lights, and more. Read our 2015 Honda CR-V Series II pricing and specifications breakdown here.
The optional Modulo kit exaggerates the changes seen on the 2015 CR-V, which include revised headlights with LED daytime running lights, a new-look grille and front bumper, and a revised rear bumper. There are also new wheel designs across the range, but the 19-inch rims on this test car are optional (beyond the Modulo kit).
Honda charges about $3000 for the Modulo styling pack, which includes a lower front splitter, rear side steps, a revised rear bumper and a rear spoiler – and while some bystanders have suggested it is a bit over the top, others like the look, and many have praised the notion of those little half steps that will undoubtedly make it easier for youngsters to clamber in and out of the back seat.
That rear seat area remains arguably the best in its class for space, with a flat floor and broad bench offering plenty of room for little ones, while adults can also be catered for in decent comfort. There’s excellent head room and leg room, even for 6’0” grown-ups, and the width of the bench means three smaller occupants will slot in with ease. There are also ISOFIX anchor points in each rear seat position, as well as three top-tether points which are positioned in the roof above the boot – so it could be like looking through a net if you glance at the rear-view mirror.
Up front there’ve been some big changes, namely the introduction of the brand’s Display Audio system.
That new media unit utilises a 7.0-inch touchscreen display unit that doubles as a monitor for the reverse-view camera. That camera is standard on all models, and includes three view modes – 180-degree wide angle; normal reverse-view; and top-down. And, in the case of the VTi-S and VTi-L models, there’s also side camera blind-spot system called LaneWatch that offers an 80-degree view of the left lane on the screen when you use your left indicator. It’s a clever thing and very helpful.
Buyers who are in to safety equipment can also option the VTi-L with Honda’s ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist System) suite of safety gear, including an autonomous braking system, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance. That pack costs $3000.
That new media unit is reasonably simple to use, and includes a HDMI port and two USB ports, as well as Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming. Connecting a phone is simple enough, and we found it re-connected with ease.
In this flagship VTi-L variant, the media system includes a built-in satellite navigation system (VTi and VTi-S models can stream a navigation app from smartphones through the vehicle screen), and while the graphics aren’t as modern as you might expect in this day and age, inputting destinations and going through the menus using the system is simple.
Unlike the previous CR-V, the updated model also has some soft-touch plastics across the dashboard and doors. These new materials lift the cabin ambience somewhat, but it still doesn’t feel as polished or posh as the class-leading CX-5.
But with Honda’s legendary focus on function over form, the CR-V remains a strong contender for people who most appreciate the practical applications of SUVs. As such, there are plenty of useful storage options through the cabin including decent front and rear door pockets, a large centre console area and rear-seat ventilation (which is absent from too many cars in this class, in this writer’s humble opinion).
The boot, too, remains a huge space begging to be filled with baby stuff, bicycles and other sporting gear, or anything else that will fill the 556-litre cargo area, which is 153L, or about 38 per cent, larger than a CX-5. That space expands to 1648L with the rear seats folded down, and that operation can be dealt with using the flip triggers in the boot. And there’s a full-size spare wheel under the floor.
While there have been big changes inside and out, the 2015 update brought no changes to the powertrains on offer under the bonnet of the CR-V, and as such this 4WD model retains its 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 140kW at 7000rpm and 222Nm at a high 4400rpm.
You can tell by those numbers that this is engine that does its best work high in the rev range, and that can be a little frustrating at times. You feel as though have to wring its neck to get the best out of it, rather than being able to rely on lower-rev torque to pull away from the traffic lights smoothly.
That said, the engine is lively from a standstill due to its oversensitive throttle, and it moves along quickly when you do push it hard - but there’s a price to pay when it comes to fuel consumption. The 2.4-litre CR-V claims usage of 8.7 litres per 100km combined, where the more frugal vehicles in the class use quite a bit less – for example, the 2.5-litre AWD Mazda CX-5 has claimed use of 7.4L/100km. Over our time with the CR-V, we saw 10.4L/100km as an average on the car’s display – not terrific.
Shifting gears is a five-speed automatic transmission which does its best to work with the engine and make sure there’s adequate power available, but it’s not the most intuitive gearbox, and at times it can be caught in the wrong gear.
The electric steering offers trusty enough response at speed, and it corners with decent conviction. But during rushed parking at low speeds it can weight up and become slow to respond.
While the standard CR-V has a cushy, almost bouncy ride that disposes of small bumps and lumps with ease, the oversized rims on this car tend to pick up more inconsistencies than they miss, and as such the ride feels a tad too busy – remember, our test model’s optional larger wheel and tyre combination (with Bridgestone Turanza 245/45/19 rubber) isn’t what you get as standard. We would have loved to sample the new model without the optional bits, but this was all that was available to us.
Honda requires more regular servicing than many competitors, with maintenance due every six months or 10,000km – whichever comes first. The Japanese brand does have a five-year/100,000km capped-price servicing program for its models, with the average annual cost equating to $572 – a bit higher than average. All Honda models come with a three-year/100,000km warranty.
All in all, the new-look Honda CR-V is an improvement in most ways over its predecessor, and while it can’t match the class leaders on power, performance or driving manners, it still nails the brief of being a family-friendly mid-sized SUV better than most in this segment. So if you’re buying an SUV for that purpose, definitely check it out.
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