Honda CR-V 2019 vti-s (awd)

2019 Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD long-term review: Wrap-up

Rating: 8.0
$31,270 $37,180 Dealer
  • Fuel Economy
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It's time to say farewell to our long-term Honda CR-V after six months in the CarAdvice garage. Medium SUVs are only getting more popular and we're big fans of Honda's entrant in the segment.
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Just like that, the time has come for us to hand the 2019 Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD back after a completely trouble-free six months (and more than 5500km) in the CarAdvice garage.

You can measure the quality of a long-termer by the enthusiasm (or lack thereof) from the editorial team when the time comes to part ways. In the case of the CR-V, no-one was particularly excited by the prospect of saying goodbye.

The reasons for that are many, and it isn't simply a case of the CR-V belonging to one of the hottest segments in the industry. Medium SUVs are right up there with dual-cab utes as the current hot-ticket items for families.

Sure, the fact that the CR-V sits in the class most people are talking about is obviously part of the equation. There's a blend of practicality and usefulness that appeals to singles and family buyers alike.

CA staffers with and without children spent time with the CR-V, and everyone loved the ease of use around town. The cabin is huge, one of the biggest, if not the biggest, in the class.

Up front, the seats are excellent and there's plenty of storage on offer. It's useful storage, too, so that you can actually house smartphones, wallets, keys, water bottles and coffee cups.

Move into the second row, and the CR-V can easily accommodate three adults across the bench, or two child seats at the outer points. Knee, head and shoulder room are all excellent as well in the second row, and again, if it isn't class leading, it's certainly close to it.

You'll see the benefits of this sense of roominess if you take the kids on longer road trips over the holidays.

The space continues through into the luggage area, as well, where you have more than enough room for the usual school bags, suitcases and road trip items with the second row in use. Fold that second row down, though, and the IKEA or Bunnings run just got a whole lot more realistic, too.

The medium-SUV class really does blend the positives of hatch and wagon into one package, and also goes some way to explaining why the large sedan has, ahem, largely gone the way of the dodo.

For mine, the most impressive string to the CR-V's bow beyond the space and comfort is the way it drives around town. The steering, the ride quality, and the effortless way the CR-V does its work all combine to make for an excellent city-focused SUV.

I love the bump insulation and the refined nature of the cabin, there's hardly any wind or road noise, even at 100km/h on coarse-chip country roads, and that makes for a relaxed touring vehicle over long distances.

While the engine is no powerhouse and it's matched to a CVT (my least-favourite gearbox), it does work nicely together to once again provide a smooth experience.

While 140kW and 240Nm are hardly eye-watering by any stretch, I was left questioning whether you actually need any more grunt in the real world, given the way the CR-V gets up to speed and stays there.

We always joke about too much power never being enough, and that's probably still the case, but not everyone is as power hungry as enthusiasts are.

The reality in this segment, too, back to the subject of the CVT, is that the intended buyer probably won't even notice the CVT, rather appreciating the pretty rural real-world fuel-use figure.

Our average, below 8L/100km against an official 7.3L/100km claim, is testament to the efficiency you can get out of a high-tech, non-hybrid internal combustion engine. And while something like the RAV4 hybrid will be more efficient, there's still life in the old way yet.

You can read our individual reports in the links below, but it's worth reinforcing here that the CR-V does the city grind as well as it does the country tour, and therefore makes a strong case for buyers who only have one family vehicle, even if they have two vehicles in the garage.

If you have one SUV for family duties, the CR-V should really be on the list.

The only area the CR-V doesn't go properly toe-to-toe with the segment leaders is infotainment, even if the system you do get works well enough and is reliable. It isn't as big in terms of screen size as some of the heavy hitters, the system control screens are a little more basic, and there's no DAB+ digital radio.

The six-speaker audio system isn't the absolute best either, but again I'd question whether the buyer puts a premium on that – certainly when you factor in the starting price below 40 grand.

So, what are our key take-outs after six months with the CR-V? There's no doubt the $36,490 starting price is both compelling and attractive. You have to regularly remind yourself that the CR-V costs less than 40 grand, especially in relation to the insulation and quality of the cabin.

There's nothing about the CR-V experience that feels cheap or underdone, and you in fact feel like you've spent a lot more money than you have.

You wouldn't expect to encounter issues after 6000km in a brand-new car, but that doesn't mean we don't have dramas occasionally, and there wasn't one single warning light from the CR-V.

Check the tyres, fill it with fuel, and fill the washer fluid – nothing else to report. We also learnt that after a week or two with it, no-one really wanted to get out of it into something else – often something more exotic.

I'd like to think that buyers consider larger hatches and wagons before they blindly stumble into SUV ownership, but that doesn't mean I don't understand why people do buy them.

The CR-V is practical and enjoyable to drive. You can read our SUV mega test to have a look at the broader segment obviously, but all my previous testing has had the CR-V as a segment favourite.

After six months with it, I'm more convinced than ever. So much so, I've tipped some family friends into them, and they all love their CR-Vs. The RAV4 and CX-5 have been segment favourites for some time, and with good reason, but don't discount the Honda product.

It's a damn good thing, and that's before you find out what it costs.

2019 Honda CR-V VTi-S AWD