2012 Honda CR-V Review

Family-friendly quality

By Shahzad Sheikh

2012 Honda CR-V

We drive the all-new 2012 Honda CR-V and even compare it to the Mark II version.

I have to declare a bias here, being a CR-V owner myself. But it also gives us a bit of perspective on how far the latest edition of this hugely popular family SUV has come. And it’s come very far indeed, in most ways, and not so far in others.

Well, for example, compared to my second generation model I would immediately say, why isn’t the new car, launched last month, half as good looking as my car, which I think has aged very well indeed. And then I would add: where’s the walk-through interior (with the flip down table between the front pews allowing a surprisingly open space)? And what happened to the picnic table that also serves as a boot floor in our car, which is clever? Not to mention the split opening tailgate – glass or side-hinged door, you pick.

2012 Honda CR-V

Now I should probably temper that with the fact that we’ve never once felt the need to just open the glass, always heaving open that rather heavy rear door on our car – thanks to the mounted spare wheel. The table, actually has come in handy a couple of times – though that was over a period of six years, and the walk-through was only useful when the kids were very young, and only when we had to stop to eat in the car.

Which of course meant they left various food remnants on the floor, which eventually resulted in new life forms evolving in the deepest, darkest corners of the Honda, until I got the interior shampooed vigorously! Had the world of science found out, it would have taken away my CR-V for further study.

2012 Honda CR-V

As for the looks, well the latest Mark 4 actually has more in common with the second gen car than its direct predecessor, which I absolutely hated. It had the face of an Ork. Even so it was improvement over our car in every way, but I just could not bring myself to be seen driving it. This latest edition though is far from offensive, if a little anonymous, and you wouldn’t object to being see in it. And it is indeed, once again, better in every way.

2012 Honda CR-V

How it goes

0-100kph in 10.5 second might not sound particularly quick, but for a car of this type of vehicle, it’s perfectly adequate and this is borne out by the fact that at no point is the CR-V found wanting for performance. It does like to rev though, as with all Hondas, and sounds a lot better above 4000rpm, although we’re not talking sports car here, just a little character from the tailpipe.

It handles faithfully, although the electronic steering feels a bit remote, but understeer is well contained, and responses are good. It’s far more eager to change direction than my car, partly helped by its lower centre of gravity. It also brakes better, far more efficiently, but with less feel, and of course the ride is smoother and way more refined.

2012 Honda CR-V

Practicality and comfort

Inside, thanks to its lower roofline, it feels a little smaller than our car, even though it is actually more spacious. As a driver and front passenger, the difference in seating position is immediately apparent. Gone is the upright position and now it has a more ‘car-like’ driving position.

There’s definitely more knee and elbow room, and overall it’s an inviting interior, as opposed to the nearly decade-old version’s sombre hard black – not to say that the materials in the new car aren’t hard too, but they just look more upmarket. The brighter colours also enhance the cabin’s appeal.

The controls and interface are simple and intuitive enough, but it took a little while to pair up my iPhone. Though once I did, Bluetooth audio streaming is available, and whilst there’s a nice monitor in the mid and top spec cars, it doesn’t have sat nav. Stereo sounds good though.

2012 Honda CR-V

Our old car’s eccentric column-mounted shifter is long gone, and the marvellous pull-lever handbrake has been replace by a foot-operated parking brake, which I kept forgetting to deploy – also, why hasn’t it got automatic lights?

The kids had no complaints about the rear space, and they were particularly delighted that it now has rear a/c vents. Luggage room seems generous and overall, this CR-V appears to be a compact and competent package.

The fit, finish and quality on the Japanese-made demo car was faultless, and it certainly felt as if it could easily do the distance ours has done, though the actually CR-Vs sold here will be American-made, but we expect no reduction in build integrity.

2012 Honda CR-V

Verdict

So would we trade up from our car to this one? Well that would be down to the person who uses our CR-V most – my wife, Humaira. After driving the newer car she found it ‘corners so much better than mine, and I don’t have to brake so early, it drives well, the seating is good and the steering is smoother and lighter, but I don’t feel as connected to this car. It’s very good but I don’t want one.’

And that’s the problem, every logical argument justifies both the new CR-V’s existence, and why you should immediately go out and buy one. Which you should, if you’re in the market for this sort of car. But don’t expect to take a Ferris Bueller-style day off (as per the American advertising campaign) just so you can go drive your CR-V. It’s a car you have to have, not a car you want to have.
Specs
2012 Honda CR-V
Price: AED105,000-125,000 ($28,535-34,000)
Engine: 2354cc, four-cylinder, 188bhp @ 7000, 163lb ft @ 4400
Performance: 0-100kph 10.5seconds, 199kph, 11L/100km
Transmission: five-speed auto, All-wheel drive
Weight: 1545kg

Shahzad’s verdict: Better than ever, but where’s the innovation?

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