After a few months – and a few thousand kilometres – behind the wheel, the traditional CR-V strong points started to come to the fore. Pretty much as we expected, too. Namely, the areas of cabin space, comfort and ergonomics – factors where the CR-V has always been solid and, in most cases, segment leading. The case for the Honda CR-V in the medium-SUV segment gets stronger the more time you spend with it.
First up, though, let's address some of your comments after the first two instalments. A few of you have opined that the CR-V is boring, or that Honda doesn't offer anything compelling in various segments. First, you could argue the whole medium-SUV segment is 'boring' subjectively. It isn't, after all, meant to set your pulse racing. These vehicles are more about practical family conveyance. So, whether the segment is boring or not isn't really the point.
On the subject that Honda doesn't offer anything compelling in various segments, I'd argue that the CR-V is exactly that – a compelling value proposition in this medium-SUV segment. Now with the standard safety kit we detailed in our introduction, the case for the CR-V is indeed more compelling than ever. And if you're a family buyer on a budget, you'd be mad not to have the CR-V in your consideration set. Further, if you're a one-car family and you need your medium SUV to be as flexible as possible, the CR-V remains a standout.
Some have taken issue with me stating that an SUV should be AWD, asking how that explains the burgeoning sales of 2WD variants across all segments. Is the HiLux the best dual-cab? No. Is it the highest selling? Yes. Doesn't matter what I think necessarily, people will buy what they buy, but I will maintain as I always have that if you want an SUV, buy an AWD. If not, get a hatchback. I get the argument about high riding, better visibility, all that. It's been said a million times. Still, for mine, if I'm buying an SUV, I want AWD – just a personal thing.
So, on to cabin space and comfort, and the resulting commentary below isn't just mine either. Plenty of non-editorial staff have spent time in the CR-V and all agree on where it shines.
The front section of the cabin, headed up by the driving position, is excellent. Visibility is strong, fore and aft, aided by the clever camera system, but in a holistic design sense the window lines, pillars and general design of the CR-V are all excellent in terms of maximising the glasshouse and visibility. Everyone who has driven the CR-V has remarked on how easy it is to get comfortable, set the mirrors where they want them, and manoeuvre through the city as they make their way to and from work. In that sense, the CR-V is an entirely agreeable commuter.
The controls are easily laid out, whether on the steering wheel or the dash front, and aside from slide volume control on the steering wheel, there are no issues as you use them. You do get used to the slide control feature, but I don't love it, and I found myself more often than not using the rotary dial on the system itself. All the other steering wheel controls are easy to work out and use.
I really like the general sense of space in any seat within the cabin, in fact. There's a bright airy feel to the cabin, plenty of legroom for taller occupants, and plenty of headroom up front, too, no matter how tall you are. The passenger can get far enough away from the dash, even with passengers in the second row, so you never feel cramped. The seats themselves are also well designed, comfortable even after a few hours on the road, and the entry and exit height of the seat is near perfect. Older buyers often ask about the move to an SUV largely because of seat height and easier entry/egress, and the CR-V is a good example of it.
The second row is also spacious and comfortable. Anyone who travelled in it during our time with the CR-V liked the seat position and angle, toe room under the front seats, shoulder room across the bench, and the window height that gives good visibility for passengers. You certainly never feel like you're sitting inside a cave in the second row, that's for sure. The seat base is deep enough for adults, and the almost flat floor is a bonus, too.
We've noted before that on face value, you might see it as a negative that you can't get Honda's famed Magic Seats in the CR-V. However, the cabin is large enough to not really need them. Even if you'd love Magic Seats to be added to the feature list, it's hard to argue with the storage space on offer.
Up front, the positioning of the gear selector up high on the dash face means you get a large storage bin with sliding lid. There's also a moveable shelf inside the bin, and the only way you could improve on this section of the console is to turn it into a chilled fridge for bottles or soft drink cans – handy in summer.
There are two large bottle holders up front, a proper glovebox that will hold more than just work gloves, and enormous door pockets that will hold all manner of things you might not have known you needed. Now, up front there are some hard plastics in the cabin, but that is par for the medium-SUV course in many ways. While the touch of them isn't perfect, they don't look cheap, so they don't detract from the otherwise classy cabin.
We love the angle to which the back doors will open, making getting the kids into and out of the baby seats as easy as it can be, not to mention adults who don't need to execute a yoga move to fold themselves into the back seat. You get three top tethers and two ISOFIX points as well.
In the second row, the ergonomics continue to be strong, with ventilation and a fold-down armrest with two cupholders as well. The armrest is sturdy enough to be an actual armrest, too, not a pretend padded shelf that feels like it will collapse at the drop of a hat.
The second-row seats fold down 60:40 using the levers on the top of the backrest or accessed from the rear. The second row folds down nice and flat, which makes for a safe load space, but some CarAdvice testers did note that the seats were pretty weighty when you needed to haul them back up into place.
Loading gear in is easy because the edge of the boot itself is quite low, and with the second row in play you get 522L of storage. There's a full-size spare under the floor, and while we lament the lack of plastic grocery bag hooks, there are two clever open storage bins, one on each side of the boot aperture.
I've said it before and I'll make the point again here: the CR-V makes the best use of available space in the segment. It will have a fight on its hands when the new RAV4 lands, as it always does against the traditional segment favourite. Compare a CR-V to a CX-5, though, and the Honda is almost a segment bigger in real terms.
2019 Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD
First odometer reading: 981km
Current odometer reading: 3145km
Distance travelled so far: 2164km
Average fuel use: 8.4L/100km