The all-new 2017 Honda CR-V, set to break cover within the next few months, will be a more premium and dynamic offering designed to take it right up to the dominant Mazda CX-5 in the booming medium SUV market.
Due to launch in Australia during the second half of next year, following on from a world premiere in the US within a few months, the next iteration of Honda’s long-running SUV nameplate will follow in the wheel-tracks of the sportier new Civic.
Expect the next Honda CR-V to offer the familiar vast amounts of cabin space — a hallmark of the current version — but to add a far more upmarket cabin with superior infotainment, and a fun-to-drive character missing from the current car.
Pictured: 2017 Honda CR-V undergoing development
Such a move would reflect Honda’s desire to move on from the self-confessed “beige” product it dished up in recent years — not to make the CR-V into a sports car, but to at least match it with the class leaders, also including the imminent new Volkswagen Tiguan.
“I think it’s [the next CR-V] a great-looking thing, I’ve seen it a number of times, it’s a bit more dynamic and rugged, and distinctive,” said Honda Australia director Stephen Collins, adding that a “premium quality interior” was also expected, building on the current car’s utilitarian but basic layout. A seven-seat layout is also a possibility.
“Performance is one area clearly that we are looking to improve, the ride and handling, what we’re looking for is fun to drive,” Collins added, pointing to the much more dynamic yet comfortable new Civic as a precedent (comparison test here).
Expect a few petrol engines to be offered, likely a tweaked naturally aspirated unit at the entry level and potentially a new turbocharged 2.0-litre engine from Honda’s new family higher up the range. Diesel is a slim chance to arrive, while we understand hybrid is off the cards. Front and all-wheel drive will feature.
Naturally, the company also wants greater sales. The mainstream medium SUV market is up 12 per cent this year, yet the current CR-V is down 4.0 per cent. Its market share of 6.0 per cent is one-third that of the top-selling Mazda CX-5.
“I think it's obvious that the market leader by a long way is the Mazda CX-5, and there’s pretty much daylight between it and anyone else,” Collins added. The CX-5’s nearest rivals are the Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Tucson.
Pictured: New Honda Civic cabin, elements of which will carry over into the new CR-V
Honda Australia has form here. The HR-V in the segment below has been a smash hit, with market share overall of 12.5 per cent this year. It’s far and away the company’s top-selling car.
“Our HR-V private market share is 13 per cent. I can’t see any reason we can’t get double-digit share [on the next CR-V], and if we did that it would put us in among the top players,” Collins said.
Such a sales bump would be vital, alongside the new Civic hatch due in February, to making Honda Australia’s mission of 20 per cent growth to 50,000 units next year a reality.