Cars > Driven

Honda CR-V V Turbo: Turning American

Are the larger dimensions and the better features worth the price jump?

The sixth-generation Honda CR-V feels more American, and that's a good thing. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

The Comfortable Runabout Vehicle, formally known as the Honda CR-V, needs no introduction in the Philippines. It continues to be one of Honda Cars Philippines’ most popular models for families that want a do-it-all vehicle.

Now in its sixth generation, the vehicle grows in many aspects—namely size and price—making it a point of contention for buyers in the market today. That is especially true when you’re looking at this variant, the V Turbo. This is the base variant that starts at P2,100,000, which is a far cry from the previous S CVT‘s P1,738,000 price tag.

Think of it this way: Ever since its home market discontinued the CR-V in favor of the ZR-V (aka US-spec HR-V), the engineering team was freed from the constraints of the Japanese market, allowing it to appeal to America that obviously thinks bigger is better.

Take the additional features and the inflation into account, and you can start to see how it all adds up.

An understated and handsome design. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

The obvious thing is its size. It’s noticeably larger, making it similarly sized compared to PPV SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and the Mitsubishi Montero.

It’s handsome with a few iconic styling bits (such as the vertical LED taillights), chrome brightwork on the grille and the window surrounds, functional roof rails, and a generous amount of plastic cladding, but the design errs on the conservative side of the market.

We feel that some of these accessories err on the tacky side of things. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

While it does ride on 18-inch wheels shod with very chunky Michelin e.Primacy rubber (235/60), its 198mm ground clearance suggests that this is meant for family hauling in the city and on the highway.

Do note that this tester has also been fitted with genuine Honda accessories, so the step boards, the window visors, and the exhaust garnish won’t come standard.

The Civic's dashboard design was great to begin with, but we could do without the piano-black trim. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

As for the interior, well, if you’ve seen a Civic RS, you’re looking exactly at that.

The entire dashboard has been lifted straight from that car, except the piano-black trim has this honeycomb texture on some parts. It adds some visual difference, but I’m sure many would prefer not to have the piano black at all.

However, some parts stand out, like the cavernous center storage and the airliner-style dome lamps.

Oodles of space for the first two rows. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

If there are things Honda is great at, they are interior packaging and visibility.

All the seats are upholstered in black leather, but are on the firm side. The two front seats have power adjustments and offer great visibility for the driver front and back. Just don’t expect to see much when you’re hauling seven passengers.

The second row has a generous amount of legroom, a lot of adjustments, rear air vents, and two USB-C ports. It also offers an easy one-touch tilt function for getting into the third row.

The third row is improved over the last generation, but you woudn't want to stay here for long. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

The third row is an improvement over the last generation’s “emergency seats.” While legroom has been increased, a lack of headroom is an issue. Even with a reclinable seat back, the seats are not ergonomic at all for long trips.

The only amenities here are a dedicated blower control and cupholders, so best to save this for short trips, small kids, or people you don’t really like.

It excels in carrying cargo as much as it does carrying people. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

Or just fold them down and enjoy the huge cargo space the CR-V offers. It has up to 840L with the second- and third-row seats down, or 150L with all seats up. It has a clever two-position shelf that allows for more room or a flat load floor when needed. Plus, a full-size spare tire lies underneath.

You get a lot for a 'base' variant. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

The car is very well equipped for a “base variant” with automatic headlights, a power tailgate with walk-away closing function, driver-side memory, and two large and crisp displays (10.2 inches for the digital instrument cluster, nine for the infotainment).

The Android Automotive-based OS is great and very responsive. Here also is the fastest wireless Apple CarPlay implementation I’ve seen (sorry, Android, you’ll have to stick to the single USB-A port). Even the unbranded eight-speaker system is good when tuned to your liking. Unfortunately, the wireless charger in this unit was extremely finicky, refusing to charge my phone unless I put it in a very specific position.

Honda did well to tune this engine and transmission. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

Powering this people hauler is a turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline mill (code-named L15C2) mated to a CVT. While this may sound like a recipe for a bad time, this powertrain manages particularly well for its size.

It’s peppy and smooth, with a responsive transmission that features paddle shifters if you want to have some fun. The only time I felt the engine get a little labored was when I fully loaded the vehicle with seven adults and cargo, but it never managed to skip a beat once it got up to cruising speeds.

It may drive like its smaller siblings, but this crossover prioritizes comfort. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

It’s also frugal for its size—it got me 8.2km/L in the city (5.2km/L in the worst case), and 13.4km/L on the highway (with a fully loaded cabin). The best part unlike other turbocharged engines is that it can take regular fuel (91-octane, unleaded), too, so it’s light on the wallet. Also, the Econ mode is available, but it doesn’t make any difference to the throttle responsiveness, so I left it off.

In traditional Honda fashion, the CR-V feels nimble and fun to drive with responsive brakes and engaging (but slightly numb) steering. Most importantly, it has a very quiet and comfortable ride—perfect for a family crossover that’ll see long road trips a lot.

It's not perfect, as some things could have come standard for the vehicle's price tag. PHOTOS BY SAM SURLA

Finally, we get to Honda Sensing. It’s a fully loaded safety and driver-assistance suite chock-full of features. Other brands have similar functions, but I found this as the most refined and reliable one out there.

No false automatic emergency braking scenarios, and the adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow felt the most natural out of all those that I’ve experienced. Heck, I trusted it enough to help me slog through the weekend congestion descending Tagaytay.

It would be nice if the 360° camera and the front parking sensors came on this model as standard for the asking price, rather than the low-resolution backup camera. LaneWatch is a handy feature to have, and is enough to offset the lack of blind-spot monitoring for me.

I wanted to test out the Honda Connect telematics, but pairing my phone required a visit to the dealership, which is probably impossible with a demo unit from HCPI itself.

It makes more sense to get this over a PPV (pickup platform vehicle) if comfort is your utmost priority. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

For P2,100,000, it’s just as expensive as the Subaru Forester, and even more than the base Mazda CX-5 Sport. But because it’s a seven-seater, it now has to go head-to-head with popular pickup-based SUVs.

Compared to those, the ace up the CR-V’s sleeve is the excellent Honda Sensing safety suite, alongside having better interior packaging and a more refined drive and ride. And when compared to other unibody three-row crossovers like the Mazda CX-8, the Honda offers a more fuel-efficient engine.

The biggest threat comes from the growing list of Chinese seven-seater crossovers, but that’s assuming they can match the solid, cohesive experience that this vehicle offers, as well as the established after-sales support of the Honda brand.


Engine1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo gasoline
Power187hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque240Nm @ 1,700-5,000rpm
Dimensions4,691mm x 1,866mm x 1,681mm
Drive layoutFWD
UpsideThe excellent Honda Sensing safety suite is here. The car is easy to drive and offers generous interior space.
DownsideThe new starting price should be a little too much to swallow for most consumers.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.