Five minutes and you'll love this Honda

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009
FUNNY FACE: The Honda CRV's extra equipment and space makes up for its higher sticker price and quirky new look.

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The CR-V’s prominent, some say less than pretty new prow is the shape it is, to provide space between the engine and the bonnet’s skin in the event of a collision with a pedestrian.

So score one for safety, Honda.

Honda has decided we can do without the previous two models’ twopiece back doors and the load floor that doubles as a picnic table.

But the new single-piece hatch works well, and a removeable shelf to separate luggage types in the huge load area is some compensation, while taking the spare wheel from the outside and putting it under the floor hints at a seriously practical family lifestyle vehicle more than a simple light SUV.

There are further hints in the main accommodation area.

The forecabin has loads of stowage, with door pockets, two glove boxes and a between-the-seats console that replaces the simple fold-up tray of previous CR-Vs with a lidded box, a couple of drink holders a 12 volt power outlet and an audio jack for your MP3 player.

The rear too has usefully sized door pockets and lots of leg, shoulder and headroom, despite being 76mm shorter than the previous model, but that’s the result of relocating the spare wheel, and the body itself is much the same length, and 10mm wider.

Honda appears to have put it to good use, for the car feels much more airy and spacious.

There will be a six-speed manual version of the CR-V with a handbrake next to the driver’s seat while the auto uses a double foot-action parking brake instead.

The construction and execution of the interior is unimpeachable, with crisp, nicely-textured plastics and tightly interfaced panels and a fumble-free radio stereo/MP3/six-CD operating head is a nice change these days.

The CR-V uses a similar multifunction steering wheel to the item found on the new Civic.

Inside, the main difference between the base $38,400 RVi CR-V and the more luxurious $43,500 Sport is the latter model’s leather trim and the extra airiness afforded by a two-way power sunroof.

Automatic adds $1500 to the RVi’s sticker.

The auto Sport also gets a power driver’s seat.

All CRVs take front side and curtain airbags, parking sensors and alloy wheels as standard, along with plastic protection for the chin, rear valance and side sills, and if you want to dress up your model further, both the RVi and Sport can be optioned up to Plus form, which adds metal front and rear skid plates, a honeycomb grille, side steps and a tailgate spoiler for another $3000.

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Mechanically, the CR-V is much the same as the previous model, except its 2.4-litre engine is 7kW more powerful at 125kW and makes its 218Nm of torque over a much broader revolution spread.

On the active safety front, along with the usual ABS, the CR-V adds VSA, or Vehicle Stability Assist whch works with the Honda’s signature real-time four wheel drive system by braking or applying torque to the wheel or wheels best able to use it.

The VSA can be felt working its power distribution ways on wet roads, or dirt and dusty gravel, quelling undesteer and instilling the car with good balance and control.

On the open road the CR-V is well-balanced and pleasingly biddable, with terrific steering feel for the this kind of car.

But the big story is refinement.

The mildly refettled engine and transmission seem less busy than before and at 100kmh with just 2000rpm on the tacho, you’ll thank your licence for the car’s standard cruise control.

Considering the extra equipment and space and dynamic improvements over the old model, I can easily forgive this new CR-V its slightly higher sticker and quirky new look.

In fact it’ll be easy for punters to warm to the Honda.

All they’ll need to do is use it and drive it.

Five minutes should do the trick.

 

- Fairfax Media

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