IT seemed almost like yesterday when we took the first-generation Honda CR-V (Comfortable Runabout Vehicle) for an impression drive at Honda’s proving ground in Japan more than 20 years ago.
And in the blink of an eye, we are now looking at the sixth-generation model and how big it has grown since then.
Starting out with a Civic platform, the CR-V was developed along this platform for successive models, with the wheelbase increasing over the respective model from 2,620mm to 2,660mm for the fifth-gen model (Honda global platform).
As expected, the sixth-generation model comes with yet another newly developed platform to carry this model for five or six years and possibly beyond that.
This sees in a longer wheelbase of 2,700mm (an increase of 40mm) over the previous model and a corresponding stretch in body length by 71mm while it is 10mm wider than before.
Honda is clearly opting for a family look with the squarish front profile that was first carried by the HR-V, continued with the WR-V and now for the CR-V.
At a glance, you could easily mistake the new CR-V for the HR-V except that the CR-V is a much bigger and taller sports utility vehicle (SUV).
The bigger trapezoidal combed front grille completely in black stands the CR-V out from its smaller ‘siblings’.
The rear sees a less impactful change from the fifth-gen CR-V with the fishhook taillights having a slimmer profile for the lower section.
Honda Malaysia gave us a first impression drive of the latest CR-V in northern Thailand, Chiangmai and Chiangrai in particular, and with Thai-based models.
Therefore, the impressions were more on its dynamic qualities, engine response and ride comfort over a variety of twisty roads and highways.
Four CR-V units were provided, of which only one was the 2.0-litre e:HEV hybrid, a first for this Honda SUV flagship.
As we opted out from the limited-time trial of the hybrid unit on our last day in Chiangmai, we would focus on the Advanced 1.5-litre VTEC turbocharged variant; both variants would be introduced locally in December.
Despite its ‘Advanced’ name, the output of the 1.5-litre turbo engine stays consistent to that of the fifth-generation CR-V’s 193PS and 243Nm of torque.
The new CR-V e:HEV’s traction motor also gets a punchy output of 184PS and 335Nm of torque that is similar to the Civic e:HEV’s.
We don’t expect much change in the vehicle kerb weight as it should remain under 1,600kg against 1,550kg for the fifth-gen 1.5-litre turbo model.
The nippy pace when we enjoyed while taking off with four people on board, including the driver, was therefore within expectations.
And when we put our foot down on the accelerator pedal, the good torque that came in early at 2,000rpm gave us the strong acceleration to get going quickly.
The new platform continues with the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension system, which was up to the mark in accommodating four on board comfortably.
On checking out its dynamic performance along the winding highway and twisty single-lane road along the way, the suspension dynamics appeared well sorted to level body lean.
The Malaysian-made Toyo Proxes R45 tyres, size 235/60 R18, complemented the CR-V’s suspension in grip and comfort levels especially in absorbing the harshness of impacts on uneven roads and bumps.
With a longer wheelbase and bigger body, passenger accommodation appeared better as the four of us enjoyed the improved leg and elbow room as well as the luggage space.
We didn’t have any complaints about noise levels either as we could easily carry normal conversations among us during the entire 400km plus drive.
The greater lean angle of the split rear seatrest was fully utilised by some of us to take a more restful ride in between driver changes.
Other goodies include the upgraded Honda Sensing system with a wide-angle radar and camera and Sonar Sensor for low-speed braking control.
There is also the Hands-Free Power Tailgate with Walkaway Close for convenient access to the luggage area.
The CR-V for Malaysian buyers comes tailored for local preferences and tastes in model make-up and features, and we believe it would continue to impress us.