For the first time, the Honda CR-V is available with a diesel engine, something that has been too-long coming as quite a few competitors have had these economy engines for years.
The fourth generation CR-V, released here in 2012, also saw the sensible and very-marketable addition of a two-wheel drive option although this is not available with the CR-V diesel.
Two CR-V Diesel variants are offered, tagged DTi-S and DTi-L.
Both models have keyless entry with the DTi-S getting a conventional key start and the DTi-S a smart key plus push button start-up. Call us old-fashioned but we still prefer the former. The parking brake also differs with the DTi-S using a lever-type hand brake and the DTi-L a foot-operated brake.
The DTi-S rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels with Continental tyres, the DTi-L on 18-inch Michelins.
A six-speed manual gearbox is available only with the lower specced CR-V DTi-S with a five-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted shift paddles optional on DTi-S and standard on DTi-L. It may not appeal to everyone but we love the short stick gear lever’s location at the base of the dashboard and it’s long been one of our favourites.
Changes on the automatic are slick and the paddles add to the driving enjoyment.
Like the petrol models the CR-V diesel comes with Honda’s Econ and Eco Assist systems. Press a button and the Econ mode alters the drive-by-wire throttle’s mapping for increased torque and better economy. Eco Assist prompts the driver to optimise fuel efficiency by colour-changing arcs around the rim of the speedometer.
Built around Honda’s intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID) are features including satellite navigation in both models as are MP3 and WMA compatible audio, USB and auxiliary inputs, as well as Bluetooth phone and audio streaming.
All fourth generation CR-V Diesels have five-star ANCAP safety ratings and a full suite of electronic safety features including ABS brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution; stability and traction control; front, side and full-length curtain airbags with rollover sensors that measures the tilt of the vehicle and activates when it senses an imminent rollover; whiplash-mitigation system; reversing camera and rear parking sensors; and front and rear foglights. The DTi-L adds front parking sensors.
Honda’s Real Time 4WD with Intelligent Control System improves grip on uneven or slippery surfaces as well as, in the automatic models, Hill Descent Control.
In recognition of its appeal to rural buyers the Honda CR-V Diesel’s launch program was held at Wagga Wagga in southern NSW.
While the area provided plenty of wide open spaces for our test drive there were very few challenges, even the brief dirt road section would barely have slowed down a conventional passenger car. We’ll try and find some more demanding conditions in our upcoming extended test.
Internal visibility is enhanced by a drop-down convex mirror that’s mounted on the sunglass holder and allows both driver and front seat passenger to keep an eye on rear seat squabbling. A potentially dangerous feature that we don’t like as far too many drivers are already not paying enough attention to the road ahead.
Although shorter, lower and lighter than the previous model the fourth generation Honda CR-V is more spacious. There’s good leg and head room in all seats and seating is comfortable and supportive. With the rear 60/40 split-fold seats occupied, there’s 556 litres of cargo space but drop the seat backs to an almost-flat position with a clever lever and this jumps to 1648 litres. There’s a full-size spare under the cargo floor.
As is often the way there’s a noticeable diesel clatter from outside but Honda engineers have done a lot of work on limiting how much engine and road noise is transmitted into the cabin. Sound insulation material is fitted to the under-cabin floorpan and there’s additional sound absorption material fitted to the rear door, rear wheel arches, door frames, firewall and bonnet.
Fuel consumption is officially listed on a combined cycle at 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres for the DTi-S manual; and 6.8 L/100 km for the two autos.
On our real-world test, exclusively on country roads, we sat around 6.5 L/100 km in the manual and 7.5 L/100 km in the DTi-L auto, quite a bit over the listed extra-urban figures of 5.1 L/100 km and 6.1 L/100 km respectively.
It’s taken a long time, but Honda Australia has finally addressed the serious SUV competition that its CR-V has faced and come up with the kind of options many other makers have been serving up for years.
Last year we saw the arrival of a 2WD petrol variant that’s aimed principally at city dwellers, while their country cousins finally get the diesel option with its extra pulling power that’s so popular out of town.
The complete Honda CR-V range is:
VTi 2.0-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $27,490 (manual), $29,790 (automatic)
VTi 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $32,790 (automatic)
VTi-S 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $36,290 (automatic)
VTi-L 2.4-litre petrol 4WD five-door wagon: $42,290 (automatic)
DTi-S 2.2-litre turbo-diesel 4WD five-door wagon: $38,290 (manual), $40,590 (automatic)
DTi-L 2.2-litre turbo-diesel 4WD five-door wagon: $45,340 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for driveaway prices.