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4th Generation Honda CR-V

The new 4Gen CR-V has been launched worldwide for almost a year but the flood situation in Thailand has delayed its launch over most of Asia. Nevertheless, this new 4G CR-V is now finally making its way across Asia. Chronologically, Malaysia is probably one of the last countries in ASEAN - and the world - to launch the 4G CR-V. But better late than never, the new 4G CR-V was launched by Honda here in Malaysia earlier last month, thus finally allowing me to get a close up look at this world standard setting SUV. Worldwide, the CR-V has been consistently very well received since it was first introduced in 1995 at the Tokyo Motor Show. It has become the benchmark for SUV’s in its segment that combines the best elements of a sports utility vehicle and a sedan car.

As model launch events go, this 4G CR-V one is probably the most 'disastrous' one I have yet attended. Due to over-confidence, I was left without any camera very early into the LPL presentation when the battery charge in my Panasonic camera went out. I had checked the battery level beforehand but wrongly thought that with two out of three bars left, I would have more than enough for the whole event. It turns out I had wrongly underestimated the battery charge used when the Panasonic is used in Full HD video capture mode. To cap it off, all the launch presentation was held in a theatre with lights off and it was difficult to take notes.

As a result, this new model coverage is a bit truncated but I hope to make it up at the media drive event where Honda usually repeats the technical presentation again. I used press release materials and whatever I recall from the presentations for this article. All photos here are from Honda Malaysia.

Development Concept for the FMC

For the new generation, the development concept of the 4th generation of CR-V is termed as “Premium Smart SUV”, i.e. to create a CR-V which has the perfect balance of comfort and efficiency of a car but with the functionality of a SUV. The strength and attraction of the CR-V has mainly been that while it is an SUV, it does not require the owner to sacrifice the comforts that comes with a sedan. So the CR-V is as comfortable as a sedan and drives as well as one but has the flexibility of the SUV. The term premium here is also significant as it indicates that Honda is trying to bring the CR-V upmarket. This will be a timely move as Honda has several smaller SUV in the works. Honda says the new 4G CR-V is highly versatile, practical and efficient.

Styling changes to the new 4G CR-V was summarized by the LPL in his technical presentation as being 'a more aggressive and aerodynamic stance with deeper sculpting of the bodylines to give a bolder image. For example, the front has an eye-catching 3-bar grille while the lower front bumper integrates and wraps smoothly upward to give improved aerodynamics.'

More specifically, outside of the fancy marketing talk, the changes are itemized as follows:

• This All-New CR-V has made notable improvements to the interior, adding sophistication and a premium touch. New technologies are applied in this CR-V to improve efficiency. Noise levels, vibration and harshness are significantly reduced to increase ride quality.

• In-vehicle features are designed with customers in mind. For example, the new centre intelligent Multi-Information Display provides driver with a wide range of latest information in a convenient and easy-to-read format.

• The signature “Comfort” element of the CR-V - the sedan-like driving comfort and convenient driving coupled with high visibility - has been improved along with unique Honda features of “Utility” and “Safety”. One of the outstanding points of the All-New CR-V is the improved cabin and cargo space. Honda redesigned the rear seats to allow for cargo space extension with just one pull of the lever. The All-New CR-V is a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle that embodies the Honda design philosophy of Man Maximum, Machine Minimum.

• The All-New CR-V expresses power and functionality. It offers improved fuel economy and exhaust emissions, advanced and rugged urban styling, excellent versatility, and premium driving experience.

Mechanical Changes

In the area of specifications and mechanicals, the new 4G CR-V sees a somewhat minor change but this is superficial as there has been some important improvements 'under the skin' as well.

The most visible change is in the specifications of the engine. While it remains the R20-based 2.0l SOHC i-VTEC from the previous generation, it has been upgraded to 155ps, 5ps more. The gearbox however remains unchanged, still the original 5AT and still without any manual shifting option. Wheels have been updated to 17inch and I checked and confirmed the front brakes are still twin pots like the previous.

The 'ECON' mode has now been added to the CR-V, a feature Honda is gradually fitting to all their models like what they did with VTEC. As normal, this is engaged via an ECON button on the dash. ECON mode engages the 'Eco Assist System' which guides the driver on efficient driving styles through the illuminated ring color on the meter cluster. Like the Insight, this ring changes colour but here, from white to green for uneconomical driving to fuel efficient driving respectively. While this is 'on the surface', underneath, ECON mode is more than a coaching system. When engaged, the ECU dials in less aggressive throttle mappings, through the DBW system as well as runs in as high as gear as possible in order to keep engine rpms down and conserve fuel/petrol.

'Under the skin' also, significant attention has been paid to the area of NVH in this new 4G CR-V. Noise intrusion into the cabin during driving, as well as ride comfort have been improved in this new CR-V. Unfortunately I do not have any hard figures to share here as my camera ran out of battery. I hope to cover this in more details after I get a chance to attend the media drive event, but I remember significant improvements in this area from the technical product presentation.

The All-New CR-V is slightly smaller in size compared to its predecessor, being 30mm shorter in both length and height but features equal or better cabin sizes in almost all parameters, thanks to Honda's 'Man Maximum, Machine Minimum' design princple. A rear air conditioner vent has been added, which will be a very much welcomed new feature. The cabin floor has been lowered in several places and the rear row of seats now almost folds flat into the cabin floor through a gimmicky 'One-Motion' folding feature. This 'one-motion' folding features a lever which when pulled, causes the seat cushion to pop up and forward against the back of the front seats, leaving a hole which the seat backs will fold down into, flat and flush with the floor of the cabin. This frees up considerably more space than the rear seats in the previous generations which folds into a rather bulky bundle right behind the front seats and eats up cargo space. As a result, the new CR-V's cargo area is increased dramatically from 589 liters (rear seats up) to 1,146 liters (rear seats down) and is able to fit two mountain bikes side by side without removing the front wheels.


Other than the obvious mechanical upgrade to the engine, the improvements in the new 4G CR-V are 'underneath', below the surface'. Ignoring all the fancy talks and concepts about a big flowing cabin and such, the new 4G CR-V offers a slightly large cabin space in a slightly smaller package - important as many long time Honda fans have been complaining about overbloated Honda's in recent years. Then lots of attention was paid to improving the NVH, an area which Honda and most japanese cars have been lagging behind the European ones but which is highly desirable to the regular car-buying masses, whose fancies Honda must pander to as Honda have made it clear that they now put outright sales volume over most anything else. So the new 4G CR-V rides better and handles better and is quieter to boot while retaining all of its traditional strength. A winning combination indeed.

Unlike the new 9G Civic, this new 9G CR-V has been an unqualified best seller in most every market it has been launched in - remember that ASEAN and in particular Malaysia is the last few markets to get this FMC. More than 1,000 bookings have been received by Honda before the launch, and I personally know a few TOVA readers who have made bookings. So the new 4G CR-V looks set to continue its winning ways.

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Wong KN
April 2013
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