Honda CR-V 2017 Review

Front three quarter

2017 Honda CR-V VTi-LX
3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

There are plenty of words you could use to describe the Honda CR-V over the years. Reliable, well-built, spacious – all admirable qualities. But one word that has eluded descriptions of Honda’s staple SUV is “attractive”.

The first CR-V wasn’t ugly, but it wasn’t anything the write home about. The second iteration was too dowdy and then each successive version has become less and less good looking.

Ugly’s probably too strong a word, but we’re getting close.

Honda CR-V Review - Side view

So, when the latest version rocked up and we were handed the keys, we were interested to take a closer look at how it fares under the aesthetic microscope.

While it’s got nothing on the double-chinned CR-V of a few years ago, it’s still just a bit too busy. However, the consensus is that, overall, it’s much easier on the eye.

Honda CR-V's front

The CR-V’s interior

As the old saying goes, if you’re inside you don’t have to look at the outside, so let’s step in and see what’s what.

The cabin follows Honda’s current form of angular presentation with quite a few different finishes and some strange ways of doing things.

Witness the fuel and temperature gauges which are simply a backlit band that filters through a slatted slot.

It looks a bit like the lenticular images you see on kids rulers and smacks of cost-cutting. Strangely the middle of the instrument cluster is fully digital (and appears to be modelled on McLaren instrumentation) so why the gauges couldn’t be something similar is beyond us. That’s the bad.

The Honda CR-V's instruments

The build quality is excellent (as you would expect from Honda) and the materials used are mostly all high quality; a few plastics in the lower half are a bit hard, but that’s it.

The soft-touch dashboard with its leatherette finish looks and feels great and even though the infotainment screen appears to sit on top it doesn’t look tacked on.

There’s also enough silver to break up the grey and black monotony.

Front seats in the Honda CR-V

The seats are wide and quite flat, so smaller folk may feel like they’re floating a bit, but the padding is excellent, and the presentation is very good.

The back seats are likewise wide and flat but the legroom and headroom is outstanding. Compared with the first gen CR-V, this new model is massive.

The boot space is impressive, too. At 522 litres, it’s plenty for loading most cargo, and bigger than its main competitor, the Nissan X-Trail, but you have to remember that ours was a five-seat model (the VTi-LX only comes with five seats). Seven-seat versions lose around 100 litres of that thanks to the extra pews sitting in the boot.

Honda CR-V Review - luggage space

CR-V’s practicality

With the amount of space available, you’d have to say yes, but then you find all the little hidden conveniences.

There’s a binnacle at the bottom of the dash, large cupholders and a huge lidded bin in the centre console that could hold 1.25-litre bottles or wallets, phones, tablets, and just about anything else you want to stash.

You’ll find 12 volt and USB points in the front and two USB outlets in the rear for kids to recharge their mobile devices.

The VTi-LX we tested is also well stocked with other kit. Automated emergency braking (only available on this model, and not others lower down the pecking order), forward collision and lane departure warnings are standard and there’s also a panoramic sunroof, digital radio and LED headlights.

And for those wanting to mirror their smartphones, yes it has Android Auto and Apple Car Play.

The interior of the 2017 Honda CR-V

Honda CR-V driving manners

It has everything everyone wants inside, but how does it drive? Surprisingly very well.

Yes, it has a continuously variable transmission (CVT) which feels like a rubber band when accelerating, but in everyday driving, it does its job well.

What is a surprise is the engine.

It’s a four-cylinder turbo, as you’d expect these days, but unlike Hondas of old, this one is tiny.

At 1.5-litres, it punches way above its weight, making 140kW and 240Nm – outputs unheard of a few years ago.

Honda CR-V's engine bay

While there’s is a bit of lag as it builds steam, when called upon to move, the little motor buzzes away and gets the job done.

It accelerates a lot quicker than you’d expect but remember that this is a large car, despite being classified as a medium SUV – there are limits to how fast it will go.

And fuel use? Well, that’s listed at 7.4-litres/100km, but you can expect to consume at least a litre more than that for running around the city.

But be warned. The engine, while seemingly excellent on paper, has had a couple of issues with fuel and oil mixing. This is more prominent in cold climates where the vehicle does short distance driving.

According to Consumer Reports, there have been hundreds of occurrences of the CR-V having fuel getting into the oil system and that can lead to the vehicle stalling or going into limp mode.

Dealers do have a fix, so if you’ve bought a 2017 or 2018 model, then get your dealer to check it out and rectify it if necessary.

Honda CR-V rear three quarter view

CR-V Steering and Suspension

Thankfully the steering is solid, with enough weight for you to feel somewhat connected and it turns in well, but again physics dictates that you can’t throw it around like a sports car.

The VTi-LX model we have on test has the larger wheels, so the ride isn’t as compliant as the base models, but it’s still quite comfortable. Honda always manages to impart a decent ride for all of its vehicles (yes, even the Civic Type-R) and the CR-V is no exception.

What do we think about the CR-V?

If it’s dependable, safe, spacious and modern transport that you want, and you don’t care about acceleration, handling or any other dynamic qualities, then you can’t go too far wrong.

Honda may make some visually “interesting” cars, but they will never, ever let you down. They just get the job done with minimal fuss. Transportation at its simplest.

And at least this CR-V is a bit easier on the eye than its forebears.

Can you take the CR-V off road?

Not really. It’s more designed as city transportation and not as a bush basher. Its all wheel drive system keeps you safe on slippery surfaces, but best stick to flat bitumen and enjoy the drive.

About Karl Peskett 431 Articles
A passionate writer, editor and driver, Karl is the go-to man when it comes to four wheels. With stints in television, radio, print and online, Karl has been writing about cars for more than a decade. He drives around 100 vehicles every year and has tested everything from Bugattis to Suzukis. Sometimes on track, sometimes off-road, his focus is on producing objective journalism without fear or favour.

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