Monday, 4 November 2013

Honda CRV 2.2 i-DTEC EX 4 WD 6 Speed Manual Road Test Review



Honda CRV “ CRV stands for Compact Recreational Vehicle or Comfortable Runabout Vehicle”

I must admit that I am going to find it difficult to be critical of any Honda, I’ve been in the Motor Trade for over 40 years I’ve sold hundreds of them, and I honestly can’t remember having a disappointed customer or ever having to carry out any rectification other than routine servicing.

Although I noticed from my Press Pack that the Honda CRV had won numerous awards over the years, I think the highest accolade that I can give them comes from one of the customers I had at my used car sales pitch, it turned out that the guy had been given a few months to live and he wanted a second hand value for money car “that he knew would be reliable, and would give his Wife no trouble when he was gone” he had come to see a 10 year old Honda.

After he agreed to buy the car I reassured him that he had made the right choice and gave him my personal guarantee that the car would be reliable, if it wasn’t I gave him my mobile number and assured them both that they could call me at any time should they have any problems with the car in the future, that was 3 years ago and I have heard nothing. Oh and just in case you’re wondering, I’m not a Lay-by dealer, my phone is not a weekly changed pay as you go, and yes I still have the same number!

Since the launch in 1995, Honda have sold over Five Million CRV’s, production of the European version was switched to Britain in 2000 and has remained at their Swindon plant ever since. The New 4th generation CRV will be offered with a choice of 2 and 4 wheel drive for the first time, I suspect that the majority of the 5 million already in use will never have been off road in their life, but from what I can see there doesn’t seem to be a huge advantage gained by choosing the 2 wheel drive version.

The 2.0 i-VTEC S (2WD) costs £21,395 and has CO2 emissions of 168g/km Tax Band H and a combined MPG of 39.2 where as the 2.0 i-VTEC S 4 wheel drive model costs £22,495 it has CO2 emissions of 173 g/km which means it is still within the 166 – 175 g/km Tax Band H £200 per year Road Tax band width and a combined MPG of 38.2, so for £1100 and a reduction of 1 MPG you get to be able to drive it when it’s snowing and tow your caravan of a muddy field.

Honda supplied me with the very well specified CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC EX 4 WD manual to road test, it costs £31,495 has CO2 emissions of 154 g/km Tax Band G  £175.00 per year Road Tax and a combined MPG of 48.7 the car was finished in Twilight Blue Metallic and had Black Leather Upholstery.

All the switchgear was easy to hand  I can’t think of any extra equipment that I would have found beneficial that wasn’t already fitted as standard to this car, first job as usual was to sync my phone to the blue tooth hands free, erm after I had pulled over to the side of the road where it was safe to do so (cough, because the Honda won’t let you or your passenger do it when you are on the move)  this also gives you the option to play and control any music that you have stored on your phone wirelessly through the Honda’s i-Mid or intelligent multi function display, which has a 5” Touch Screen and incorporates, the CD/Radio, telephone, and HDD navigation system.

The car is equipped with an Economy Mode button (which is hidden behind the steering wheel and I didn’t discover for a couple of days) when its activated it controls the throttle response, engine programming, and the air conditioning compressor, it decreases the voltage to the fan drive, reducing the load on the engine and optimising it for maximum fuel efficiency.

When I selected Econ Mode I can’t say that I noticed any difference in the cars performance, but the Eco Assist system illuminates a green light which resembles a cannabis plant on the dash and and an arc on either side of the speedo which glow green when you’re driving economical, I’m pretty sure that responding to the visual signals and trying to do my best to drive within the tolerances needed to keep the pleasant glow on the dashboard was the actual reason my MPG went up, and was nothing to do with the engine mapping, this seems to be the conclusion reached by Honda engineers when they discovered that different driving styles could cause as much as a 15 percent variance in fuel economy, according to the MPG display by the time I gave the car back I was achieving 50.5 MPG which is pretty good for a big 4 Wheel Drive car.

The only thing I really didn’t like but isn’t unique to the Honda, is fitted to pretty much every car these days and that is the Idle Stop technology, you come to traffic lights or standing traffic and the car cuts out then starts again when you’re ready to move forward and you depress the clutch. No matter how many times it does this, after decades in the motor trade driving cars that had flat batteries, dirt in the carburettor or were so low on fuel that you were driving on a wing and a prayer expecting to breakdown at any second, the slightest hint that the car is going to stall or cut out without me turning the key and I slam the clutch through the cars bulkhead and floor the accelerator pedal thereby causing the engine to burst into life revving till it hits the limiter and frightening the life out of the Lollypop Lady and the kids on the school crossing.

I really couldn’t see the benefit of this feature, as I was convinced the constant stop starting in traffic would put unnecessary strain and wear on the clutch, flywheel, starter motor, engine mountings, possibly clog the cat or Diesel Particulate Filter it may lead to replacing them a lot earlier than would previously be needed and would add somewhere in the region of £1500 to £2000  to the whole life cost of the car.

For £1500 you would be able to buy enough diesel to cover approximately 11,000 miles, Argh, but what about the CO2 emissions that you would save by not burning the diesel I hear you asking?, well I can’t really calculate the exact offset between the two, but what about the CO2 and Green House gasses that are produced when the replacement parts are being manufactured, when the old parts are disposed of, recycled, melted down or Dave Clark Design turns them into a fancy clock, http://www.daveclarkdesigns.com/

ps. keep up the good work Dave!


The cabin of the EX is EX-tremely luxurious, roomy, and has great all round visibility. The blind on the panoramic tinted glass roof opens like a magic trick and I can’t understand how the disappears into such a small space, there’s just too much material to stow away, for me it will remain one of life’s mysteries, I really wanted to dismantle it but decided that the good folk at Honda wouldn’t be best pleased if I couldn’t put it back together again and gave them their car back in pieces.

When the blind opens the interior of the car is transformed and on a sunny day it’s like driving around in your conservatory. It took me seconds to adjust the driver’s seat using the electric adjustment, dropping the steering wheel using the manual adjustment so I had a clear view of the instruments and I was ready for off. The car was comfortable and easy to drive from the get go, once you’ve input your destination postcode into the Nav System and set your desired temperature on the dual zone climate control, apart from snicking into the next gear (manual version) or switching the heated seats on, there’s no reason to take your hands off the steering wheel.

I felt like the car had been built round me, it was so easy and relaxing to drive and the gearbox on the Honda is so slick that if you use more than one finger to change gear you’re wasting energy, you don’t even have to use your brain as the car has a Shift Indicator Light on the drivers display which tells you when you should change gear. With your hands at the twenty to eight or quarter to three position on the steering wheel, you can cover the radio control, fuel computer display, telephone controls and indicator with your left hand, while your right hand covers the cruise control.




I’m not big on reading instructions or asking for help, so when i eventually gave up and asked the Honda Delivery driver where the ignition key went, he said I usually leave it in my pocket, then he pointed to the start button on the dashboard. Neither did I read the Press Pack till I had waived goodbye to the car, and now I am kicking myself because I don’t know whether the car was actually fitted with 3 of Hondas optional extras ACC, LKAS and CMBS if it had have been I would have loved to try an experiment.





This is how Honda describe these three incredible safety systems

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)

Buttons on the steering wheel operate the ACC system, allowing the driver to choose both their speed and their preferred distance from the vehicle in front. Using a millimetre-wave radar in the front grille, ACC monitors the distance to the car in front and can apply up to a quarter of the maximum braking force autonomously when needed to maintain the set speed and distance. If more braking is required,



the system provides a visible and audible warning. ACC operates between speeds of 19mph and 112mph.
Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
This is the first time that LKAS has been available on the CR-V. Designed for dual carriageway or motorway use, Honda’s Lane Keeping Assist System detects the lane markings using a camera mounted at the top of the windscreen and helps the driver to stay within its boundaries. If the driver indicates, the system will switch to standby mode, but if it calculates that the car is about to leave its lane without the driver activating the indicators it will automatically apply corrective steering, while issuing a visual and audible warning. The system applies up to 80 per cent of the steering force required, with the driver providing the final 20 per cent.
LKAS maintains the position of the car in its lane by providing steering torque when necessary, significantly reducing driver fatigue and helping to prevent accidents. For the system to work, the driver has to keep contact with the steering wheel - if the system fails to recognise the driver's input on the steering, it will switch itself off. LKAS can operate between 45mph and 112mph on roads with clear and visible left and right lane boundary markings and where there are no sharp bends.
Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
The innovative Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) is a sophisticated system that works to prevent or mitigate the severity of accidents. It works by monitoring the following distance and closing rate between your vehicle and the car directly in front via radar. If the system calculates that a collision is likely it provides an audible and visual warning to the driver. Should the driver take no action to prevent the collision the system provides three sharp tugs to the driver’s seat belt and some autonomous braking is applied. Finally, if a collision is unavoidable, CMBS tightens the front seat occupants’ seatbelts and applies a high level of braking force. This braking force can be supplemented by the driver, up to the CR-V’s maximum capability. CMBS works at speeds above 9mph, detecting stationary and moving vehicles along a path up to around 100-metres ahead of the CR-V.
So in lay mans terms,
(ACC) keeps the car at a constant speed, allowing you to take your foot of the accelerator, but still keeps you a predetermined distance from the car in front.
(LKAS) steers the car and keeps it in the same lane unless you indicate.
(CMBS) slams the anchors on and stops you crashing if you fall asleep with the other two systems switched on and you hit a traffic jam before you wake up.






As soon as you select reverse gear the 5 inch screen of the i-Mid system displays the view behind the car, and a kind of yellow rugby goalpost virtual best parking approach, there is no excuse for scuffing the 18 Inch alloys on the kerb, or for going tailgate first down the 1000 foot mountain that you just tried to parallel park on.



I was mightily impressed by the attention to detail in the CRV and when I was reading through the specification I saw that the standard equipment included “Duck sensing Auto Lights” such is the level of the safety equipment I wasn't surprised in the slightest, I just thought "Wow, Honda think of everything" however on further inspection I discovered that it actually said “Dusk” and when I come to think about it, that makes a lot more sense ;-) but just on the off chance that you do total a Duck out of season, a quick flick of the extremely powerful High Pressure Headlight wash and there won’t even be enough Duck DNA left for Horatio Caine from CSI Miami to find.




There are other things that really stand out, for instance the filler cap is an integral part of the fuel flap, and the filler neck of the diesel tank seems to be made to the same technical specification and tolerances that is necessary for the Eurofighter to refuel from an A330 Airbus mid flight without both aircraft turning into a giant fire ball, when you insert the petrol pump nozzle into the CRV’s filler neck it slides into place and is held in position with a click that would comfort a fighter pilot.




On most other cars every time I go over a speed bump my phone charger springs out of the  cigar lighter as if it’s red hot and has just been ejected like a spent cartridge from a shotgun, not so in the Honda as the cigar lighter or “Power Outlet” as its labelled has a spring loaded flap which holds the charger firmly in place no matter how rough the road gets.







I was left with the overall impression that the Honda CRV is suitable for all occasions, with its elevated seating position, although it is a big car it doesn’t feel like it. I was as comfortable driving it through the narrow winding roads of the Lake District, as I was with the cruise control set and the car eating up the Motorway tarmac. It’s quiet, smooth, and easily holds 5 people it also has a cavernous boot. The Honda is Ideal for the school run, and it doesn’t matter what terrain you have to cross to get there.





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Barrie Crampton

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