CR-V 1

After missing the media test drive held somewhere in the East Coast of Malaysia, I finally managed to get a hold of the new 2007 Honda CR-V so I can report my findings to the ever eager and critical readers of this blog. Read my findings after the jump.

CR-V 2

I know what most of you are thinking, the new CR-V is ugly and you wouldnt buy it anyway even if it is a good car. But this is not really the best way to choose your car purchase, after all looks are not everything. And the new CR-Vs design does grow on you after awhile, even Bangles initial BMW designs took some time to get used to. To quote some of my peers, “At first I thought the new CR-V looked like a piece of *toot*, but now I think its not a bad car at all.”

Of course, when evaluating, and if Honda gets what it hopes, buying the car, you must not expect something else other than what it is meant to be out of it. I found that it does its name-sake very well, being a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle. In the end, it is still an SUV, and I am going to attempt to evaluate the CR-V as what it is, primarily SUV and secondarily a Honda. I say this because there are many associated properties that people expect a Honda to have, thanks to the fun high revving Civics of the past.

Indeed, the CR-V is a very pleasant and relaxed drive. Its really hard to get irritated with the car. You just glide along, and the happy feeling that you get with it may have something to do with the higher driving position, allowing you to see a great deal further ahead than what you can with a sedan. The R-series 2.0 litre SOHC i-VTEC engine paired with the 5-speed automatic gearbox is tuned to have a miserly behavior in terms of fuel, and perhaps stingy with power as well.

CR-V 3

While it is more than sufficient to move the car along, and doing it with the minimum of engine RPM, when you put the pedal to the metal there is no lurch forward, instead the pace picks up very slowly and gradually. Once again, the R-series was designed for fuel economy and low-end grunt, not the high-end screaming power of the K-series, so this is yet another case where you shouldnt expect something to do what it is not designed to do. However, for the sake of driver enjoyment and even safety in maneuvering around obstacles in time, this Honda CR-V should ideally have more torque than it currently has. Because of this, I think the 2.2 i-CTDi CR-V will truly shine.

The steering is slightly vague but more than enough for what you expect out of an SUV. Its not up there to BMW standards but its better than most econobox cars and mini MPVs. Taking corners with the CR-V was a surprise – there was the expected SUV body roll yet the CR-V stayed very true to the lines you want it to take. The steering wheel was sufficiently weighted (yet another surprise for me considering it is an Electric Power Steering unit) so you do not need to tense up your own body to keep the steering pointed the way you want it to be pointed during those leaning corners.

All that marketing about how the new CR-V is so much more car-like than before is not just marketing speak, there is much truth to it! The new car-like driving experience has some trade-offs though – the new CR-V loses even more of its little off-road ability to begin with. Ground clearance is now lower by 35mm.

CR-V Engine

I tried to take a photo of the engine sitting in the engine bay from this angle, but it was a failure as the engine is mounted too low in the engine bay for center of gravity purposes.

CR-V Engine Bay

So this is likely one of the only few angles you can use when taking a photo of the R20A engine. It’s not the best looking of engines aesthetics-wise but does it’s job. Notice the oxygen sensor right after the exhaust manifold outlets. The R20A engine is based on the R-series which made its debut in the Honda Civic 1.8S, which means its has drive by wire throttle (which has some considerable lag when I tried out throttle response) and a SOHC design with i-VTEC. Click here to learn more of the unique technological features of the R-series engines.

CR-V Interior

The interior is refreshingly fully dark colored and black in a sea of cars with semi black and beige interiors. A dark interiors lends to the cars activity-centric image. The steering wheel is leather wrapped with a similar futuristic design like the Honda Civics, while the dash meters is disappointing not the self-illuminating type like found on the Accord. While its not as vibrant as Id wish it to be, its sufficiently easy to read, plus the center LCD multi-information panel is easy to read with a white on grayish background. I also wish there was an option for leather seats, perhaps this will be offered later on just like how the Accord 2.0 recently gained the option for leather seats. Despite not being leather, theyre pretty comfortable and they do provide some support during cornering, though for what the CR- costs I would expect electric adjustable seats.

Interior space is abundant. There are two different compartments in the center console, as well as two cup holders for the front passengers. The glove box is moderate in size, nothing amazing there, but there is another compartment above the glove box for you to keep your sunshades perhaps? Another small cubbyhole is to the right of the steering wheel for toll coins or whatnot. There are also two more storage areas below the center dash area, but those seem too far down and out of reach to be used often. Perhaps Honda should have connected the dash to the console between the seats and create another storage area. The gear shifter on the dash and the foot-operated parking brake have created an empty space there between the two front passengers but I somehow feel it hasnt been used to the fullest of potential. For example, there is no hook in that area for you to secure plastic bags or shopping bags there.

CR-V Dash

The dashboard controls are very easy to use and can be learned easily through common sense, no need to go wading through a thick manual there. Very intuitive. It also looks classy, a property something I did not find the Accords dash because of a sole wrongly chosen font face – the CR-Vs instead is perfect. The in-car entertainment system consists of a 6-disc CD changer and audio quality was acceptable, better than a baseline set, but even beginner audiophiles may want to upgrade it as playing it above normal sound levels (something like above the volume level 24) resulted in some bad distortion.

The headlamps also have decent throw of light, giving good visibility in the night. Fog lamps come as standard, and I recommend having them on all the time because they significantly illuminate the area on the road nearer to the car, plus enhance the cars aesthetics as the CR-V does look good when the fog lamps are on. You can turn on the fog lamps via a secondary knob on the main headlamp and signal control stalk on the right side of the steering column.

The boot is pretty versatile, coming with a double deck cargo space by default. The second deck which can withstand loads up to 10kg can be removed and the boot can be turned into a single load area, which can be further extended in two steps. First step is tilting the rear seats forward – in this case the extended load area is further shielded by two extending pieces of canvas connected via the rear load cover and the seats. If you have trouble visualizing what I am saying, there are some photos in this post showing what I mean. You can also fully push the 60:40 split seats down flat to create a large loading area in the rear. The swing door has been replaced by an upward lightweight hatch, which owes most of it lightness from the fact that there is no spare tyre hooked onto it, instead the spare tyre is underneath the load area.

CR-V boot

CR-V boot

CR-V boot

CR-V boot

CR-V boot

CR-V boot

Some more nice features to mention: rear doors open almost 90 degrees, which makes rear seat entry very easy. There is an AUX input so you can connect your iPod, MP3 player or whatever device you want. Security features include dual i-SRS front airbags, active headrests, anti-lock brakes and electronic brake distribution.

CR-V Door Open

I managed to get 7.5 km per litre of mileage while I was driving pretty aggressively, and when I toned down to a more sedated style of driving I managed to get about 9 to 9.5 km per litre. This was calculated using the on-board fuel computer, which also featured a real time fuel consumption gauge which can train you to be a light footed driver. I got about 400km from a 58 litre full tank of petrol which was about RM110 thanks to some heavy footed driving due to the engine’s insufficient torque. My test drive session was not long enough to gauge the fuel consumption with a much more sedate driving style.

I’ve devised a way to get good fuel economy with the CR-V on the highway, or rather with the R-series engine and 5-speed gearbox with 2 overdrive gears combination. On the highway, simply set your cruise control to 80km/h or 100km/h and let the cruise control perform the throttle work. 80km/h in 5th gear will usually settle at 1,500rpm, and 100km/h at 2,000rpm. With the SOHC i-VTEC engines or any Economy i-VTEC engine, the engine works particularly fuel efficient under 2,000rpm. Using this method, the real time fuel consumption gauge soared to 20km per litre. It is harder to keep fuel consumption that low if you are modulating the throttle with your own foot.

crv-cruisecontrol

CR-V Panning Shot

As a conclusion, the Honda CR-V appeared to me as a very pleasant car, youll hardly find anything to complain about it as its very well executed for what it is. There are three bad points about the new CR-V. One is its slightly Korean-ish looks, which hopefully youll be able to bypass as you wont regret it if you do decided to purchase this. But you must always remember not to expect too much from it. It is an SUV after all. A good one at that. As a lifestyle vehicle, perhaps some audio system upgrades are necessary, then itll be perfect. Second, it seems slightly low on specs for its price. I want electrically powered seat adjustment and high intensity discharge xenon headlamps. Thirdly, there are some obvious cut cutting measures applied to the car, for example there is no hood insulator material under the hood, which strikes me off as surprising! Build quality is very good throughout the car except for an unsightly gap that looked like misalignment of parts near the A pillar on the left of the dashboard.

Other than that, why not? Youll have to pay RM147,800 to own it. There are also two Modulo packages which brings the retail price up to RM155,160 for the Premium package and RM151,820 for the Standard package. If you are a Modulo Privilege Card Holder, you get a discount – RM154,200 for the Premium package and RM151,300 for the Standard package.

It’s a great car for the wifey or those who want a pleasant drive and not looking for anything to excite you. Because a pleasant drive and some utility is pretty much all it gives.

For more technical details on the 2007 Honda CR-V, check out this post: 2007 Honda CR-V launched in Malaysia.

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