The Honda CRV first came onto the car forecourts back in 1995, as a crossover 4x4. It remained pretty much unchanged until 2001 when the first major rethink happened. The second generation was bigger and heavier and benefited from the addition of the more powerful engine fitted back in 1999. The next major facelift came in 2007 when designers rounded off the boxy roof and created more curvaceous window frames and a new front grille and headlight shape.
The 2012 updates give the CRV an even more rounded look, with a wider grille, distinctive headlights, and an overall, more aggressive feel. The rear taillights too have a more sculpted sense about them, wrapping around the body, while the windscreen seems to have an even more rakish design.
Honda was one of the first carmakers to enter into the compact 4x4 market, and their unique take on the design and stance of this class makes their vehicles stand out. It may not truly handle the outback, but it will more than cope with the knocks of city life.
The interior of the CRV is vast, offering plenty of storage and comfortable seating. The dashboard design is well thought out, and its split screen system allows for info/entertainment updates simultaneously with satnav instructions, while the third screen keeps the driver up-to-date on the vehicle's various monitoring devices. The cab has a nice layout, albeit a little plastic.
The CRV comes with two trims, the VTi entry-level vehicle and the upscaled VTi Navigation. The basic CRV is fitted with a 2.0L engine and the Navigation comes powered by Honda's 2.4L i-VTEC engine. This puts down 140kW and generates 222Nm of torque through the AWD and onto the road. The engines are linked to the 5-speed CVT automatic gearbox or the 6-speed manual, depending on your preference. The occupants of this vehicle won't find themselves shouting to be heard over the engine or wind noise, as the CRV is packed with soundproofing and a smooth suspension that are all ensured to give a nice, quiet ride.
These are more economically running engines too, and the fuel consumption on the 2.4L has dropped from 10L to 8.7L/100km; this is also helped by the i-VTEC system, which monitors engine performance and adjusts the valves accordingly. The ECON system is another improvement, which monitors the vehicle's systems and makes suggestions regarding the cruise control and climate control systems to ensure lower running costs. Even bearing in mind all its ecofriendly features, the CRV manages to accelerate from 0-100 km/hr in 8.7 seconds, although older models achieve this in around 10 seconds.
Standard across the CRV range are keyless entry, alloy wheels, electric folding mirrors, 4-speaker sound system connected to Bluetooth hands free, and excellent MP3/iPod connectivity. The VTi has options such as satnav and AWD, but this pushes the price up some. The VTi-S has added head lamps, rain sensing wipers, duel-zone climate control, leather trim, auto dimming rear mirror, and parking sensors. For top-of-the-range L trim, you get leather throughout, auto-levelling HID lights, active cornering lights, 18-inch alloys, heated seats, sunroof, front sensors, and keyless ignition.
The CRV already has achieved a five-star ANCAP rating. Along with its banks of airbags, there is traction control, ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution, and vehicle stabiliser; the available options of parking sensors and other monitoring systems work to safely keep the car on the road.
The crossover 4x4 market is very competitive. As an alternative to the large station wagon or MPV, there are most definitely plenty of choices in the family car market. The Honda CRV sees itself up against the likes of Nissan's X-Trail, Mitsubishi Outlander, BMW X-3, Subaru Forester, and Mazda CX-5.
If you are looking for a reliable, safe, rugged street car, the Honda CRV makes an excellent choice. It does not quite have the cross-country grind that true off-roaders are looking for, but it will handle well over bumpy surfaces and hilly back roads. If you want something that protects all your passengers and can carry a large family with lots of equipment then the CRV is one to check out.
When buying a Honda, you are always guaranteed that the vehicle's quality build, novel equipment, and reliability mean it has strong residual value. The CRV is an established, proven, and worthwhile car, even when purchased as a used vehicle.