|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
Honda’s rework of the CR-V starts with the exterior. The controversial three-bar grille, in itself a move to tie the design of the company’s SUV line together, has been decked in favor of a new solid wing face. First seen in the Honda City and Jazz, it gives the CR-V a more high-tech and definitely more palatable design. This treatment is echoed at the back with a new chrome garnish connecting the tail lamps. Along with the new grille, the headlamps have been changed with a new smoked treatment and daytime running lights. The LEDs sure look great even if they’ve been lifted straight off from Subaru’s design book. Other exterior changes include new bumpers with faux overriders, new alloy wheel designs (same 17-inch size), a new shark’s fin antenna, and less black body cladding than before. The changes are best described as minor, but welcome. It’s funny but these small tweaks do wonders to modernize the CR-V’s three-year old sheet metal.
Outside, the CR-V seems more compact but it still hides an expansive and comfortable interior. There’s capacious space for everyone, front or back, with seats that are decisively more supportive than before. Even the cargo space is flat and allows for the shoving of a week’s worth of groceries or some golf clubs. In terms of seating position, the most comfy one is on the high side creating a feel akin to a genuine SUV rather than a jacked up family car. This “command view” seating allows for good visibility, but extra care must still be exercised because of the CR-V’s expansive dashboard (which is hard to sometimes see out of).
Aside from good space utilization, 2015 is the year Honda’s finally making the case of giving the CR-V a cutting-edge makeover. The i-MID or “Intelligent Multi-Information Display” which displays the clock, music information, fuel economy/range is still there but it’s now supplemented by a new 7-inch touchscreen that doubles as the nervous system for the infotainment. It also acts as a display for the rear parking camera with its dynamic guidelines and changeable views. In theory, having two screens as opposed to one is better, but in practice, the experience is confusing. More than once, you’ll get caught out on which screen to look at. For instance, the i-MID is actually more in the line of sight, so you’ll expect driver-oriented functions to pop out there only to have them displayed on the touchscreen below. It makes matters worse that the i-MID is controlled by steering wheel buttons while the 7-inch touchscreen is only accessible via the screen itself. It just makes no ergonomic sense.
The addition of the touchscreen not only gives the CR-V a fully working navigation system, but also its most unique feature: Lane Watch. Honda touts it as a cost-effective way to alleviate blind spots. Instead of relying on fancy radar sensors, a small camera spouts on the passenger side mirror that gives four times the coverage compared to the side mirror itself. The live video feed also comes with demarcation lines to tell how near or far you are to the traffic behind. And it works automatically either when you press the Lane Watch button on the light stalk or flick the turn signal to the right. Either way, the sensation of having your car’s right side display on the aforementioned touchscreen is jarring at first, but you get used to it. And though it isn’t good practice, you find yourself relying on that giant video feed more and more rather than your own side mirror.
Under the hood, the CR-V continues unchanged from before with 185 horsepower and 220 Nm from its 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine. And despite the Accord moving to the newer, more efficient Earth Dreams powerplant, the 2015 CR-V shoulders on with this old K24 engine. With the ECON button turned off, it’s willing to rev but the behavior is largely canted towards comfort rather than sportiness. It’s quiet and refined while producing ample power to propel this 1,570-kilogram crossover along. It won’t burn the drag strip but at least you’ve got the confidence to overtake when needed. However, engage the ECON and things take a dramatic turn. Having an alien green plant on the dashboard coach you on frugal driving may seem like a gimmick, but it does work. Altering several parameters including engine and air conditioning output, the CR-V suddenly feels sluggish as if its displacement was halved. It’ll refuse to rev unless you really dig on the gas pedal and by then, the green ambient coaching light will turn gray as if to scorn your fossil fuel-burning ways. If you’re puttering in city traffic most of the time, keeping the ECON button is a good exercise. Still, fuel economy is not as good as you’d expect: 6.68 km/L.
The rest of the package feels remarkably the same, eschewing corner-carving performance for long-distance touring comfort. Steering is light and responsive which makes city maneuvers easier at the expense of a numbed-up on-center feel. Cruising through corners, the CR-V feels largely stable though the ride can be on the firm side, especially for the rear occupants. Push it a bit harder though and it begins to sway and roll. It feels like a crossover a size bigger with its propensity to understeer. Still, no one ever buys a crossover just to carve through corners, right? Well, maybe except if you’re a CX-5 or a Forester.
For most buyers out there, the 2015 Honda CR-V presses all the right buttons. Yes, it’s not exactly frugal in this 2.4 SX trim nor can it set your loins on fire, but for the most part, it still does well. It’s roomy, well-designed, well-finished, and now, well-kitted than ever before. Being a careful evolution of a proven formula still seems to work for Honda, but they better start moving faster. If the 2015 CR-V is the one launched three years ago, things could have been very different. As things stand though, it’s now showing its age. Yes, it’s still the default crossover of choice for some, but not for the majority any longer. The Lane Watch is good and all, but Honda’s got to add some more spice to its driving if they want to lure customers back to their stable.
2015 Honda CR-V SX
|Ownership||2015 Honda CR-V 2.4 SX|
|Year Introduced||2012 (Refreshed: 2015)|
|Vehicle Classification||Compact Crossover|
|Body Type||5-door SUV|
|Engine / Drive||F/AWD|
|Under the Hood|
|Aspiration||Normally Aspired, EFI|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||Inline-4|
|BHP @ rpm||185 @ 7,000|
|Nm @ rpm||220 @ 4,400|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / 91|
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,570|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Double Wishbone|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Bridgestone Dueler H/T 470 225/65R17 T (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||Yes|
|Parking Sensors||No, Rear Camera|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjustment||Tilt/Telescopic|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Seating Adjustment||Electronic (driver)|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|Power Mirrors||Yes, with Fold|
|Climate Control||Yes, Dual|
|No. of Speakers||6|
|Steering Wheel Controls||Yes|