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Honda CR-V 2024 review

Dylan Campbell

Honda’s new CR-V feels all grown up, and importantly a worthy rival to Toyota’s RAV4 – even if it’s lost some of the quirkiness and character of the previous car

Good points

  • Very nice to drive
  • Quiet and refined
  • Magic ride/handling balance
  • Smart, mature interior design
  • Well-specced across the board
  • Spacious second row

Needs work

  • Noisy engine at urban speeds
  • Lacks torque for a turbo
  • CVT an uninspiring choice
  • Fuel economy merely average
  • Acceleration nothing special
  • Price has gone up a lot

Honda’s new, sixth-generation CR-V is bigger, more refined and more grown-up than before. And it’s absolutely worth a look over the all-conquering rival that is the Toyota RAV4.

The new CR-V enters the red-hot, midsize SUV segment in Australia, one dominated by the RAV4, the country’s favourite passenger vehicle in 2022.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 driving rear 3/4

And the revamped family hauler must also arm-wrestle and best the Subaru Forester, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, new-ish Nissan X-Trail and the ageing Mazda CX-5.

Honda is offering seven new-generation CR-V variants in five- and seven-seat configurations, the cheapest seven-seat model setting you back $46,800 (Honda’s national driveaway price).

The Honda CR-V range now starts at $44,500, the new base model VTi X a mean $5600 more than the previous-gen VTi, though that’s the national fixed driveaway deal, not MSRP.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 front

Prices have crept up across the range by thousands. The most expensive CR-V is the new, tricky hybrid eHEV RS at $59,900 driveaway. The flagship and only grade with a hybrid powertrain in the lineup uses a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated engine as a generator for a battery pack that powers two electric motors, with a 152kW total system power.

However, the rest of the entire CR-V range is now turbocharged.

Under the bonnet of most of the lineup you’ll find a 1.5-litre turbo inline-four producing 140kW and 240Nm, powering either the front or all wheels using an automatic Constant Variable Transmission (CVT).

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 engine

We think it’s a fairly handsome car, with its creased and chiselled styling, long bonnet, short front overhang, long wheelbase and almost cab-rearward design.

That’s even if the rear three-quarter is a fairly conservative and anonymous blend of modern SUV design themes, almost looking like Honda was asked to style a Volvo.

This is now a much larger car – 69mm longer, 11mm wider and on a 40mm-longer wheelbase. It’s grown enough that Honda slotted an entirely new model, the ZR-V midsize SUV, between the smallest HR-V and the new midsize CR-V.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 side

The CR-V’s extra size is immediately obvious in what is a roomy and more spacious cabin. Unless they’re NBL players, front occupants will never have to worry about rubbing elbows, Honda even squeezing a deep nine-litre centre console storage compartment between them.

While some will find the CR-V’s new interior styling a bit conservative, almost plain compared to the reliably alternative and quirky styling of previous Hondas, others will love its simplicity and maturity. Gone are the oddball angles and shapes, in their place are clean lines, neat piano blacks, smarter fonts and more intuitive user interfaces.

Materials feel premium enough, with soft-touch surfaces abounding – even if, visually, there’s an oppressive quantity of black ‘dog-nose’ texture, especially on the door cards.

All models get a thin, 9.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen mounted high in the dash, with a crisp, clear, contemporary user interface.

We like that there’s a volume dial – the result of customers complaining about previous, touch-based volume controls. Apple CarPlay is wireless, although it’s still BYO cable for Android Auto users. All models, even the base VTi X, come with a wireless phone charging pad.

We applaud Honda, too, for keeping a row of ‘hard’ air-conditioning buttons and dials, resisting the trend to move these controls into touchscreens.

Honda’s air-conditioning controls are a delight, easy to read and with a lovely tactility that will have you regularly tweaking your temperature up and down half a degree to simply to feel the buttery click of a dial. We imagine one Japanese engineer had probably obsessed over this area for weeks.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 charger
Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 digital dash

Behind the steering wheel, two digital instrument screens are offered, a smaller 7.0-inch display on lower grades and a full-width, 10.2-inch screen on VTi LX and above.

Jump into the back seat and you’ll find a spacious and comfortable place. Honda says there’s now 15mm more rear legroom and we believe it – knee-room, toe room and headroom are generous, even for adults.

There’s only a small transmission tunnel, amplifying the feeling of space further. Elsewhere, the rear windowline is fairly low, giving little tackers a decent view of the outside world.

It’s a pity second-row amenities fall short of some rivals. Even on our VTi LX test car, rear occupants only get two USB-A outlets and two air-vents with basic manual flow-control.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 interior seats

There’s no tri-zone back here; nor in-built rear window blinds. Somewhat redeeming itself, the large rear doors luckily open nice and wide – almost 90-degrees – giving very breezy access to the outboard rear seats, almost like there are no rear doors at all.

Seven-seat models are almost “five plus two”, the third row being very much reserved for kids – or adults on very short trips (their knees will just about be around their ears). There are no third-row USB ports although Honda at least provides third-row passengers with ceiling-mounted air-vents.

Moving to the absolute rear of the cabin, all grades get a handsfree electric opening boot. The boot itself is large and with an appreciably low floor and lip, meaning you don’t have to lift heavier items quite as high as other cars.

The boot space measures 581 to 589 litres depending on which five-seat variant you pick, it’s up to 67 litres larger than the previous CR-V SUV – and, impressively, that’s housing a full-size spare wheel under the boot floor.

Increasing luggage space usability, there’s now a sliding function for the second row, rear seats, which can extend the boot capacity if you have smaller kids on board who require less leg room.

However, the lack of boot-located second-row release levers is an oversight, especially from the brand that originally gave us the forward-thinking Magic Seat loading and storage flexibility.

There’s also no wet bin in the boot, no ski-port and the rear seats offer only a 60/40 split, rather than the more practical 40/20/40 of some rivals such as the VW Tiguan.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 driving side 2

First impressions behind the wheel are very good. While the Honda CR-V is noticeably a bigger SUV than before, it’s not too big – it’s just right.

Forward visibility around the cleverly thin A-pillars is excellent, and the driving position is very good with plenty of steering wheel reach adjustment.

All the controls, from steering to brake pedal and accelerator, are a joy to use at low speeds and perfectly calibrated, as we’ve come to expect from Honda.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 shifter

It would be nice, then, to have shift-by-wire for the transmission as the large and tall automatic gear selector feels humorously old-school. It’s a bit crude in what is an otherwise high-tech interior.

At urban speeds the CR-V is very good, with a decent ride quality making for a very comfortable car. It’s quieter, smoother and more refined than before, with a solid and generally high-quality feel…

That is, if you ignore the engine, which is noticeably and almost rudely loud at low engine speeds. You’ll never confuse a CR-V for an electric car.

Under medium throttle loads you can hear the turbo hissing away. Put the windows down and you can even get a little bit of blow-off-valve sneeze – a bonus for the Fast & Furious-loving readers amongst us.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 driving front 3/4

Otherwise the CR-V’s CVT powertrain is the wet blanket you’d expect, even despite the steering wheel paddleshifters that offer a manual mode of sorts that brings half-hearted artificial gearshifts.

This would be a much better car with something like an eight-speed torque converter auto – alas, Honda’s love affair with the CVT seems more like a marriage these days.

The CVT also seems to rob the engine of what would otherwise be its strongest suit – low-down turbo torque.

Boot it and the transmission kicks down to about 4500rpm as the engine works hard to meet your demands. In effect, it’s not particularly as effortless as you might have expected from your new turbo engine. It’s almost like Honda’s engineers have tried to make it feel naturally aspirated.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 driving in car

On the highway, the CR-V continues to be well-insulated from road and wind noise, and the semi-autonomous cruise feels solid and trustworthy, not pinballing in its lane keeping enthusiasm or veering too close to either line.

Dynamically, the CR-V’s strut front and independent rear suspension offers an excellent manner and there’s a real depth to its chassis.

Find yourself on a winding road and evidently, in all-wheel-drive VTi LX spec at least, this is clearly a vehicle developed by the same company that produces the sublime Civic Type R.

The 235/60R18 tyres are reasonably wide for a mainstream midsize family SUV, and serve up a decent amount of mid-corner grip.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 front close

The mid-corner compliance is also impressive, encouraging you to dig deeper and deeper into its dynamic talents – even if the manner of that CVT transmission makes it hard to forget you’re in a basic SUV.

Back in the real world, Honda’s claimed combined WLTP fuel economy ranges from 7.1 to 7.3 litres per 100km for front-drive grades. And it’s 7.4 to 7.7 litres per 100km for all-wheel-drive models.

We will independently verify this during some week-long testing, including assessing the hybrid eHEV RS. All CR-V models run on the cheapest 91-octane petrol.

The CR-V is covered by Honda’s five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 badge

Service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000km, with services capped at $199 – giving the CR-V a five-year servicing cost of $995, which is quite cheap.

The Honda CR-V is an impressive car – larger, more spacious, more useable and refined than before, with a much smarter interior.

Finding fault with it is a nit-picking exercise. It does miss some features and spec offered by rival brands. For instance, you can’t get ventilated front seats, it’s not possible to fold the second row down from the boot, Android Auto really should be wireless, and third-row passengers in seven-seat models don’t get USB chargers.

Not that they’ll be that concerned, as a bit more knee-room in seven-seat guise is what they’d really be more keen on. A Mazda CX-8, while an older car, is a much better three-row proposition.

Honda CR-V VTi LX AWD 2023 screen

Subjectively, we wonder if Honda has gone too conservative with the exterior and interior styling, flitting from quirky and characterful to plain and safe. To be fair, it will probably appeal to more people.

Ultimately, the CR-V needs to beat the segment best-seller in the Toyota RAV4. At $44,500 driveaway, the base CR-V VTi X lines up against the RAV4 GX almost line-ball on price.

Both are front-wheel-drive, and while the CR-V offers slightly more power-to-weight (87kW/tonne versus 82) the RAV4 pips it on fuel, claiming 6.0L/100km against the CR-V’s 7.1.

Inside, the CR-V comprehensively beats the RAV4 again on-paper, the VTi X getting electric front seats (to the RAV4 GX’s manual), while the RAV does not share the CR-V’s new sliding second row.

Further, the CR-V’s 9.0-inch infotainment screen is larger than the RAV GX’s 8.0-inch and the GX does not include a wireless phone charger or an electric tailgate.

The CR-V is arguably a nicer, smarter place to be. We’ll do a comparison test and get the two cars together when we can.

Until then, the new CR-V is absolutely worth a look on its own merit.

Approximate on‑road price Including registration and government charges

Key specs (as tested)

1498 cc
140kW at 6000rpm
240Nm at 1700rpm
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
57 litres
7.7L/100km (claimed)
Average Range
740km (claimed)
All Wheel Drive
Single gear
4704 mm
1866 mm
1691 mm
Unoccupied weight
1790 kg

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