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February 1, 2021

Review: 2021 Honda CR-V 2.0 S CVT

When Honda released the current-generation CR-V in the Philippines, their marketing always centered around two things: diesel power and seven seats. True enough, these two phrases are almost magical to the typical Filipino buyer who wanted something aspirational, yet practical. But what if you’re not the typical Filipino buyer? What if you wanted something that’s good value, and one that didn’t come with the ridiculous push-button shifter? Well, prayers answered because that’s exactly what the CR-V 2.0 S is all about.

To the unaware, Honda’s been offering the current-generation CR-V with a gasoline engine since its introduction four years ago. Carrying the “S” designation, it means it’s a mid-tier model that sits between the entry-level “V” and top-trim “SX.” Yet, at P 1.678 million, it’s the most affordable of the CR-V lot with the barer V Diesel priced above it at P 1.713 million. In fact, you have to spend a cool P 1.888 million to get a similarly-equipped S Diesel. Oh, and despite the price difference, you can’t tell the difference by exterior appearance—they’re absolutely identical.

In a stroke of product genius though, Honda did widen the difference this year by adding Honda SENSING to the S Diesel. Having said that, the 2.0 S (as the gasoline model’s officially known) does get two added safety features of its own: Driver Attention Monitor and LaneWatch.

Its age notwithstanding, the CR-V’s design as lasted remarkably well. The most note-worthy change this 2021 is the new “barbell” front bumper which has given it some sportiness/aggression, but for the most part, it’s the same CR-V launched in 2017. Ditto for the interior which remains pleasantly modern, ergonomically sound, and solidly built.

The overall vibe is more practical than premium, and that’s backed up by the CR-V’s large interior space for everyone. The center console, with its arm rest and sliding divider is impressive to say the least, and the cargo hold is voluminous, helped further by the low load height.

Now, if there’s one missed opportunity here is that Honda didn’t take this opportunity to update the infotainment system. The 7-inch touchscreen Display Audio system may have been cutting-edge in 2017, but now, it’s just plain slow and clunky.

With Agile Handling Assist—Honda speak for brake-based torque vectoring control—the CR-V handles tidily. While it’s not exactly the most exciting choice to take through corners, it does feel safe, secure, and predictable. There is, though, a large chink in its armor, and it’s down to the Toyo Proxes tires. It’s rather noisy even at just 60 km/h.

Swapping the 1.6-liter i-DTEC for the tried-and-tested 2.0-liter i-VTEC engine does little to neuter (or improve) the CR-V’s performance. Regardless of what dinosaur sauce sits in the tank, it’s tuned to be a commendable daily driver with good, usable power off the line. Surprisingly, the 2.0 S does have good pull from a standstill. However, the gas-powered version does struggle a bit in the mid-range (ECON on or off), before coming back to life at the top end. Of course, there’s a natural trade off when it comes to fuel economy. It can’t match the diesel’s double-digit fuel economy. However, at 8.2 km/L (average speed 16 km/h), it’s still pretty good for a compact SUV with no fancy fuel saving tricks.

Also, don’t let the gearless CVT fool you. It’s smooth, refined, and responsive. Without a doubt though, the biggest plus of the gasoline version is the presence of the traditional gear lever. The shifter, which sprouts from the dash doesn’t exactly operate with the same tactile feel as other Hondas (it’s easy to mistake Drive for Neutral when engaging from Park, for example), but it’s still a hundred times better than the diesel’s obtuse push-button shifter.

Having already compared the running cost of the similarly-speced 1.6 S (the diesel), and the 2.0 S (the gasoline) three years ago, we came to the conclusion that for as long as you do less than 15,000 kilometers (14,109.88 kilometers to be exact), the gasoline actually makes more sense on an ownership cost per kilometer basis. And while we haven’t had the chance to re-explore the figures again, the conclusion will most likely be similar in 2021.

With that, choosing gasoline over diesel really boils down on whether you rack up the miles nor not. If you do, or you need the seven seats, the CR-V 1.6 S Diesel makes the most sense (it actually makes more sense than even the top-of-the-line 1.6 SX).

However, for those who don’t travel a lot, don’t need the seven seats, or simply want to avoid the push-button shifter, this gasoline-powered version presents its case as a solid, reliable, and reputable choice. This CR-V doesn’t make much noise compared to its diesel-counterpart—mechanical or marketing-wise—but we think that’s exactly what Honda had in mind. As it is, the CR-V 2.0 S doesn’t call attention to itself, yet, even as a wallflower, it’s perfectly adept for the everyday hustle.

2021 Honda CR-V 2.0 S CVT

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Ownership 2021 Honda CR-V 2.0 S CVT
Year Introduced 2017 (Refreshed: 2019)
Vehicle Classification Compact SUV
Warranty 3 years / 100,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type 5-door SUV
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 2.0
Aspiration Normally Aspirated
Fuel Delivery EFI
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 154 @ 6,500
Nm @ rpm 189 @ 4,300
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission CVT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 8.2 km/L @ 16 km/h,
10.2 km/L @ 24 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,623
Width (mm) 1,855
Height (mm) 1,658
Wheelbase (mm) 2,662
Curb Weight (kg) 1,505
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-Link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric w/ Auto Hold
Tires Toyo Proxes R45 235/60 R 18 H (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 6
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors No
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR x 3
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Driver Attention Monitor
Hill Start Assist
Lane Watch Camera
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Manual, 6-way
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Manual, 4-way
Seating Surface Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Day/Night, Manual
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Yes, Dual Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
Smartphone Connectivity Apple CarPlay
Android Auto
# of Speakers 4
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Probably the most boring compact crossover anyone can buy. It looks so sterile and vanilla as hell.

    1. In that case, what compact crossover do you recommend for this segment?

  2. Is the CR-V Diesel with push-button shifter not reliable?


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