Sitting in slow traffic, the kind that crawls into a mall entrance just before dinner, with hundreds of other drivers jostling to be at the head of the gate, isn’t as stressful as you might think. Setting your mind and body into zen-mode inside the already-comfortable cabin of the latest Honda CR-V helps, but in this case, the Honda Sensing helps even more.
It is a thing of wonder, this Honda Sensing. It is Honda’s suite of safety and driver assistance technologies with the end-goal of reducing accidents at the same time advance the cause for fully autonomous driving. I sampled the system when it was still in beta in 2015 and then the final release last year, albeit in a closed and controlled environment. It works, of course.
With Low Speed Follow and Adaptive Cruise Control set, the CR-V inches forward as the vehicle in front moves, keeping a set distance of about half-a-car at its minimum, which is enough for a queue jumper to cut in front, if persistent enough. Also joining in the effort is Lane Keep Assist System that firmly nudges the steering back to the middle of the lane when it detects it is about to meander into the next lane. Flashing the appropriate signal lights will cancel the operation.
Although the CR-V is well capable of moving itself forward and keep between the lines on its own, you will need to keep your hands on the wheel on all times; failure to do so will make the car beep incessantly. Not for a reason, the CR-V is feeling insecure, but the driver’s intervention is needed should there be a situation that trips the system up. In spite of being quite advanced, no self-driving systems are perfect, and your judgement is significantly required. Do not take this as an invitation to update your Instagram Stories while driving.
Hand-on-wheel is especially crucial on the highway where things can go SNAFU without a moment’s notice. Just as all seven senses works at low speed, Honda Sensing can also fully work at highway speeds. Out here, on the open road, Honda Sensing becomes the second driver that you never knew you needed until you start getting drowsy, and the next rest stop is 10km away.
You’ll cover the 10km, and the rest of the journey, reasonably quickly. The CR-V’s 1.5-litre turbocharged engine is a notch more powerful than the previous generation’s 2.4-litre naturally aspirated. It generates 190hp and 243Nm, which goes to the front wheels through a CVT. Yes, under full acceleration, you can hear the drone of the transmission but only if you tune your hearing to that specific noise, which gets drowned out quickly with the radio on.
In spite of it being turbocharged, the engine doesn’t kick up a dust storm under full acceleration. Instead, picks up speed like a naturally aspirated engine, preferring a slow boil. Once heated, the CR-V manages a 0-100kph in 8.8 seconds. It is impressive, take nothing away from that.
The ‘Earth Dreams’ engine is developed to balance power and efficiency on a tightrope so the transmission will get to its ‘highest gear’ very quickly. Honda says this new engine does 7.0l per 100km, and real-world figures add approximately one more litre to the official number.
At highway speeds, the CR-V feels stable and keeps true to the track. I do wonder if it is Honda Sensing at play here but never the less, there’s much confidence coming from the steering that you’ll feel alright to venture close to the 200kph top speed.
The same confidence is continued to the Federal Roads and its many twists and turns. Honda’s flagship SUV grips tightly to the road and don’t give in to the natural forces that push vehicles away from the corner.
In comparison, the older generation CR-V now feels like a clumsy oaf. The differences extend to the software, called Agile Handling Assist, that applies the right amount of brake-force on the correct wheel to assist in the SUVs turn-ins. In terms of SUV handling, the CX-5 still holds the benchmark, but this CR-V isn’t far behind.
Nevertheless, the CR-V remains a comfortable ride, more so than the previous generation. There’s enough travel in the spring and dampers to soak up the road, with a chassis that’s firm enough to not let the body shift its 1,549kg around needlessly.
Ride aside, the spacious interior also adds to the comfort of being inside the CR-V. Three adults will fit comfortably on the rear bench with stupendous volume for leg, elbow and head. More impressively, it still provides a great many things in the boot even with the rear bench fully occupied. Fold down the rear seats, and you’ll easily fit a full road bike, wheels still attached and all.
If you’re hunting for an SUV that gives you more space per square-metre, then it’s easy to recommend the CR-V. Apart from the misaligned tailpipes that manifest OCD in people who aren’t OCD, there’s very little else to complain about.
There’s no doubt the CR-V is a delightful daily driver that performs as reliable as any Honda should. With added Honda Sensing, the CR-V is the SUV you’ll be happy to drive through stop-go traffic as much as the open road.
Specification: Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P
Engine 1,498cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC, VTEC, turbocharged | Transmission CVT, front-wheel drive | Power/Torque 190hp @ 5,600rpm / 243Nm @ 2,000 – 5,000rpm | Performance 8.8s 0-100kph, 200kph max speed, 7.0l/100km | Price RM158, 225.00 on-the-road, without insurance | Score 8/10