HONDA CR-V: OUTBACK ADVENTURE

Honda_CR-V_frontJulie and I were both overdue for a long relaxing holiday and the offer of a press test of the new fifth generation Honda CR-V arrived at just the right time. It would be hard to pick a better vehicle for reasons that will become evident later in our review.

We took the Honda from our Gold Coast home to far western Queensland by way of the Warrego and Landsborough Highways through Roma, Charleville and Barcaldine to Longreach.

We spent several days on Longreach, touring the Qantas Founders Museum, the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and Outback Heritage Centre. Not to mention just sitting around, reading or not doing much at all in the wide open spaces.

Then back home on the Capricorn and Burnett Highways through Emerald and Kingaroy till we joined the boring M1 Motorway and on down to home.

This is a typical trip undertaken by many Queenslanders looking for peace and quiet in the wide open spaces of this great brown land downunder. We stayed in a farm, a guest house, cabins in camping areas and even a small mining camp. All good fun!

Though off-road driving wasn’t part of the plan the fact that the gen-five Honda CR-V has a ground clearance of 208 mm (almost reaching the unofficial 210 mm that’s accepted beneath a true 4WD) meant that we could traverse dirt road with ease as centre humps, fire trails and the like.

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Two- or all-wheel-drive systems are offered, ours was the 2WD, we would have preferred the AWD, but beggars can’t be choosers.

POWERTRAIN
Power comes from a high-tech1.5-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine. It has 140 kW of power and 240 Nm of torque all the way from 2000 to 5000 revs.

The CR-V’s engine sits beside a CVT automatic that keeps the revs at exactly the right place all the time.

DRIVING
We lowered the beautifully engineered Honda backseats to give us perfectly flat platform stretching all the way from the tailgate to the front seats. Just behind the front seatbacks we placed a bed for boisterous Bailey our standard French poodle. Behind him was plenty of space for all of our luggage, including handle areas in the rear corners for items we didn’t want to move around.

Driving on smooth roads the Honda was quiet and unflustered, indeed there was near silence from the tyres on motorways. Some coarse-chip surfaces – and there are plenty of them in the outback – added significant noise, but not to an uncomfortable level.

Comfort is good and the seats support well even over ultra long distances.

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Steering is light and responsive, but obviously I didn’t try any hard cornering as neither my wife nor our dog would have appreciated it. Having said that I’m sure it would be safe and forgiving in tight cornering.

The cruise control is easy to set up and adjust on the move.

For some reason every time I go into the dry areas of the Australian bush it rains. It’s happened to me in Alice Springs, Broken Hill, Nyngan, Tennant Creek and more. By far my biggest was the 1973-4 flood that put two thirds of Queensland under water.

This trip was no different and when we were on the Warrego Highway there were times the Honda’s wipers were flat out and we had to slow to 80 km/h.

The band of rain covered a great deal of Queensland, so on the return trip a week later the paddocks were already greening up and the trees had a gentle, fresh, green tinge. Isn’t it great the way the Australian bush regenerate so quickly?

(Several times over the years I’ve considered setting up as a professional drought breaker, but I’m sure that would immediately bring my luck to a screeching halt. So it’s best to remain anonymous and leave smiling locals unaware that I had passed through dragging the rain clouds along.)

Once west of the Dividing Range the speed limit is 110 km/h so the engine was sitting at 2100 rpm virtually all the time. That is neatly into the 2000 start of the maximum torque range.

That torque is there all the way to 5000 revs, which is very handy when you come up behind a road train on a skinny road and want to overtake 53 metres of vehicle with about a hundred tyres throwing up dust and grit.

The CR-V’s engine is smooth and responsive with a minimum of turbo lag. The transmission is always in the correct ratio – which is hardly a surprise given that it has an infinite number of ‘gears’ between the lowest and highest ratios in the automatic.

So good is the powertrain that we averaged a mere 6.6 litres per hundred kilometres for the entire trip of just over 2500km. An oldtimer we chatted to asked what that was in miles per gallon? Out came the calculator – and the answer was an amazing 43 mpg. Honda Civics used more petrol only a few decades back.

SUMMING UP
It would be hard to pick a better vehicle for out extended holiday trip to the far west of Queensland than the Honda CR-V. The flat load space is arguably better than anything in its class and comfort is very impressive.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
2.0 Vi 2WD: $28,290 (automatic)
1.5 VTi 2WD: $30,690 (automatic)
1.5 VTi-S 2WD: $33,290 (automatic)
1.5 VTi-L 2WD: $38,990 (automatic)
1.5 VTi-S AWD: $35,490 (automatic)
1.5 VTi-LX AWD: $44,290 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Honda dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Honda CR-V VTi 1.5-litre turbo-petrol 2WD five-door wagon)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.498 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 5600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 240 Nm @ 2000 rpm
Fuel Type: Standard unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 160 g/km

DRIVELINE:
Continuously variable automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4596 mm
Wheelbase: 2600 mm
Width: 1855 mm
Height: 1679 mm
Turning Circle: metres
Kerb Mass: 1536 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 57 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

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