Continuity is a good thing
The Honda CR-V is one of the vehicles that are considered the “OG” of today's highly popular segment called the crossover class.
Back when the first-generation was launched in 1997, the CR-V was one of the very few vehicles at the time that could offer sedan-like levels of comfort and refinement with the ground clearance, and to some extent, the added capability of an SUV with its Realtime AWD system.
Over the years, Honda introduced changes here and there with the CR-V's size, the engine, and its looks, but there's nothing too dramatic to take away from what the CR-V was originally built for. And now that I was given the keys (and the keycard) to the sixth-generation CR-V in VX trim with all-wheel-drive, it's indeed more of the same, in a good way.
The latest generation CR-V gained a few inches in terms of size (71 mm longer, 10 mm wider) over the previous generation, while the wheelbase has been stretched out by a further 40 mm. However, the increase in size doesn't reflect much of the CR-V's looks at first glance, as I think the older generation's shape shows a more perceived volume. But when I parked the new CR-V next to a friend's older CR-V with the diesel, only then did I notice that it was there.
Much like the Civic, Honda seemed to have gone the other way from the cab-forward design that the Jazz became known for. Honda pushed back the A-pillar, and the result is a longer hood that complements the CR-V's new in-your-face grille.
Styling-wise, the CR-V follows the more mature look you'll see in models like the Civic and the HR-V. I find it a lot more handsome now. The tighter proportions remind me of the Gen 2.5, or the facelifted 2nd generation CR-V. Some would label it as boring or conventional, but for me, the “less is more” narrative works well with the CR-V. The toned-down styling gives the new CR-V a more upscale look. Mukhang pang mayaman, so to speak.
There are also interesting bits on the exterior like the windshield washers, for example. The CR-V does not have it mounted on the panel of the windshield like most cars, It's already integrated into the windshield wiper itself.
But I have to admit, the wheels of the CR-V could use a bit more effort in terms of styling. It's not the most eye-catching out there; I'd prefer the RS e:HEV with the darker wheels. However, the same won't be said with the tires. The CR-V is wearing 235/60R18 Michelin e-Primacy rubber made for low rolling resistance, and they are very good for daily driving.
If you've been behind the wheel of the current-generation Civic, or even the FL5 Civic Type R, then you'll find that the interior feels very much like... well... Civic. The dashboard, the wheels, the seats, the gauges, and even the center screen were all taken from the same parts bin. I'm actually saying this as a good thing, as I like the tactile feel of the buttons, the knobs, and even the placement of the interior's many switches, particularly the clickable scroll on the steering wheel that reminds me of the Nokia 7110 I used to borrow from my dad in the old days.
The seating position is rather different, as you get to sit higher given that it's a crossover. It's also the first time a PH-spec CR-V comes with memory function as standard. Usually, you'll find this feature on more premium cars, so it's a nice touch.
The infotainment system has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, though it's only the latter that's wireless capable. For Android users, connecting to the screen is via the Type A USB port just above the wireless charging pad. The CR-V seems to favor those with newer gadgets, as most of the USB ports for charging have a Type C outlet.
There's a dual-zone climate control system in front, and there's another switch for the A/C vents on the second and third rows. With both engaged, the CR-V's cabin can get very cold pretty quickly ala Nissan levels. In typical Filipino car lingo, if you have an A/C system as good as a Nissan, then that A/C is pretty strong. It's something I've noticed with Honda's auto climate control-equipped cars as of late, and I'm glad the big CR-V cools its cabin just as well as its smaller siblings.
In terms of space, I reckon five adults would sit comfortably inside the CR-V. There's generous head, leg, and elbow room in the first two rows. However, the third row, much like other crossovers and PPVs, is better reserved for kids or the occasional joiners on short trips.
But for your cargo, the CR-V could swallow luggage up to 13 inches long and 41 inches wide with all three seats up. Once you fold the third-row seats, that increases to 38 inches. If you'll primarily use the CR-V for carrying stuff, folding the second-row seats gives you access to put things up to 72 inches long. The power tailgate also makes for more convenient loading and unloading.
Powering the CR-V is the same 1.5-liter, four-cylinder VTEC Turbo found on the current Civic and the HR-V V and RS variants, albeit in a higher state of tune. It has 190 PS and 240 Nm of torque, and it's paired with a CVT that drives all four wheels.
There are paddle shifters to give you simulated shift and gear control, but somehow even in this VX variant, the CR-V only has two drive modes – Eco and Normal. From what I remember, the Civic and HR-V had a Sport mode so I'm curious as to why the CR-V didn't have one.
I eventually found the answers when I was finally driving the CR-V. Quite simply, it doesn't need one because it's basically a smooth operator. It's very much the Comfortable Runabout Vehicle it was made for, hence the CR-V name. Day in, and day out, driving the CR-V is going to be uneventful in a good way.
The power is there when you need it, and the controls are very much refined and precise. But when you just want a relaxing time behind the wheel, the 1.5-liter engine and the CVT combo make the CR-V cruise effortlessly on the road. Honda engineered the CR-V for balance, and even more so with the all-wheel-drive. You have that surefooted feel on low speeds, high speeds, highways, and even on winding roads.
The suspension is very supple; to the point that it still returns a smooth ride even with its tires inflated to 45 psi. That was the case when the CR-V was initially delivered to me. But once the tires are set to the recommended pressure, the ride comfort is even better.
In terms of fuel economy, the CR-V returns pretty good numbers even for an all-wheel-drive vehicle. In the city, I averaged around 7.5 km/l on a 16 km/h average. But on the highway, the CR-V can stretch out and do 18.3 km/l at an 85 km/h average speed.
Another thing that makes you want to drive the CR-V daily is the standard Honda Sensing. It's just really a system you can count on if you want less stress behind the wheel on traffic jams with the low-speed follow, and laid-back cruising on the expressways with the adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist. Christmas time made me appreciate the system more as I was driving the CR-V in heavy traffic jams and took the crossover to a lot of places outside Metro Manila.
But still, there are some improvements that Honda could work on with the CR-V. They already made an effort to pack the crossover with a lot of new features, but it could use a better quality camera for both the reverse and the LaneWatch camera. There's a big difference especially when you see the cameras of Chinese vehicles with much lower price points. Lastly, the CR-V even in the VX variant does not come with front parking sensors.
In terms of pricing, the 2024 Honda CR-V VX Turbo AWD retails for PHP 2.28 million. This makes it even more expensive than the older CR-V SX AWD which had a diesel engine. But currently, customers don't seem to be affected by the price increase. According to Honda, the AWD remains the most preferred variant in the CR-V lineup.
Overall, there's nothing truly groundbreaking about the sixth-generation Honda CR-V in this VX AWD Turbo variant. But that's a good thing for the CR-V, as it's simply a carryover of a tried and tested formula made incrementally better as every generation passes.