The Honda CR-V has been a major player in the compact SUV segment for years. At loggerheads with its lifelong rival, the Toyota RAV4, it has seen its competitiveness dull somewhat in the face of more modern competition, which has partly adopted the hybrid to quench its thirst. For this sixth generation, unveiled last week, the transition was self-evident.
This new generation is not limited to this single fact, as you can imagine. Adopting a resculpted body, the SUV inevitably approaches its big brother, the Pilot. The lines are more assumed and angular to give a little more character to a model that was sorely lacking. Like the last generation of the Civic, the designers moved the front pillars back to give a slightly sportier profile. Honda nevertheless saves the taillights marrying both the pillars and the fenders, in the manner of Volvo.
As is customary, the CR-V swells alongside inflation increasing its length by almost 7cm, a gain largely concentrated in the wheelbase (4cm). This provides a little more legroom in the rear, but cargo volume remains essentially the same as before.
The chassis has been improved. The steering is now variable-ratio and the damping has been firmed up slightly for better handling and increased comfort, we’re told.
The hybrid and the turbo cohabit
As stated from the outset, the big news remains the offer of a hybrid mechanism for the first time in Canada, a choice undeniably inspired by the RAV4, which has been its pride since 2016.
Honda has chosen a different avenue than its Japanese rival by employing a mechanical link between the front drivetrain and the rear axle. Toyota employs an independent electric motor in the rear. For the CR-V Hybrid, a 2.0L Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder gets the job done with two electric motors, a starter-generator and a propulsion motor. Power output is 204 hp and torque is 247 lb-ft. No word yet on estimated fuel consumption. The manufacturer maintains that it will eventually make up 50% of SUV sales in the country.
The standard mechanics remain a 1.5 L turbocharged four-cylinder that is said to have been revised, despite its unchanged maximum power and torque (190 hp and 179 lb-ft). It is specified that the power is obtained longer and that its torque intervenes earlier.
The first Honda CR-Vs, which are assembled in Ontario for our market, will arrive in dealerships this summer. Hybrid versions will follow later this year. Pricing has yet to be announced.