We all know that Honda Automobiles Thailand is launching the all-new 2017 CR-V at the Bangkok International Motor Show at the end of the month. We also know that it’s coming with Honda’s first application of a diesel engine in the ASEAN region. And now thanks to our friends at AutoInfo, we don’t have to wait two weeks to see it in all its glory. Feast your eyes on the all-new 2017 Honda CR-V 1.6 EL 4WD.
AutoInfo says the 2017 CR-V is quite the looker. Instead of going sporty, it seems to be embracing luxury and distinctiveness. LEDs are now found in both front and rear ends with the headlights (with daytime running lights) and taillights having them. The front grille features a honeycomb mesh decorated by a large chrome trip that ties it to the corporate Honda face. At each corner, this range-topping CR-V has Toyo-branded 235/60 R 18 tires.
At AutoInfo’s first drive at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, the outlet has confirmed that it’ll come with 7 seats. And the interior, instead of going all sporty, seems to echo the sheet metal. It’s luxurious with piano black accents going hand-in-hand with wood paneling. The front seats are power adjustable while the second row offers a 60/40 split-fold mechanism with two stages of recline. The rear doors open at 90 degrees allowing easier access to the third row. The CR-V offers ventilation ducts up to the second row.
It also seems Honda is going for a techier feel this time around too. The 2017 CR-V (at least with the diesel engine) comes with an electrically actuated transmission. Reminiscent of the Legend luxury sedan and Pilot SUV, the traditional PRNDS is accessed not by a shift lever but by buttons. AutoInfo says it takes time to master this new layout, but at least paddle shifters are present on the steering wheel for quick up or down shifts. In addition to the push-button style selector, the CR-V gets a digital gauge cluster with the tachometer now being a bar at the top. A large touchscreen allows access the infotainment system.
Now comes the most interesting part: the drive.
While we all know the 1.6-liter i-DTEC serves up a torque buffet with 350 Nm of torque and 160 horsepower to boot, the biggest surprise is the 9 speed automatic. With wider ratios than a conventional 6-speed unit, the CR-V’s gearbox can actually skip gears. It can go from 9th to 5th or 7th to 4th directly. And with Honda resisting the temptation to go dual clutch, our Thai friends report smooth performance.
For handling, the CR-V relies on its tried-and-tested front MacPherson Strut and rear Independent Multi-link set-up but now enhanced with Honda’s Agile Handling Assist (AHA) and Motion-Adaptive Electric Power Steering (MA-EPS). The former is Honda speak for brake torque vectoring which selectively applies brakes to individual wheels to prevent wheel spin while the latter uses the stability control system to reinforce steering feedback that prompts driver correction if the system detects instability. Honda says the effects are barely noticeable, but the result is enough to regain stability and shorten braking distance.
The overall impression of AutoInfo is that the CR-V still focuses on comfort (which is good), but feels sharper and more precise around the track. The larger disc brakes also contribute to ample stopping power.
Though the 2.4-liter gasoline engine is still available for other variants (curiously, they don’t get the 1.5 VTEC Turbo), our friends in Thailand seems to prefer the diesel-powered 2017 CR-V (18.9 km/L after all). This short drive whets our appetites for the Manila launch which should happen pretty soon. Cross your fingers and pray to the VTEC gods that we’ll get the diesel engine in here as well.