Mark Higgins’ first drive 2014 Honda CR-V DTi-S review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.

In a nutshell Roomy, comfortable and economical, the CR-V is more urban than outback SUV.

Practical Motoring says This fourth-generation Honda CR-V is the first to get a diesel engine and here, in entry-level DTi-S guise, the thing works very well. It might not be as rough and tumble as a Subaru Forester, but its clever interior packaging ensures the CR-V should be on your shopping list.

IN SOME CIRCLES, it’s fashionable to arrive late to a party, but 10 years is stretching it. However, Honda Australia took that long to introduce a diesel vehicle here, despite plenty of praise and sales through Europe for their diesel engined cars, that started with the Accord Euro in 2003.

The first Honda oiler to arrive here in April 2013 was the UK-built 1.6-litre Civic hatch that’s a bit of an unknown gem and it was followed by the fourth–generation CR-V, in diesel guise-with two models, late-January this year.

Introduced in December 2012 in petrol-form only, the fourth-generation CR-V revealed a more unified look. Gone was the awkward styling of the previous generation and in its place, a more contemporary look. With the arrival of the diesel came new design headlights with DRL’s and a three-bar chrome and matte grey grille that integrates with the bumper and lower air intake. The vertical LED tail lights are also unique, but apart from that it’s the same as the petrol models, with 17-inch alloy wheels, full-length grey plastic, lower-body protection strip, flared and flat sided guards front and back, narrowing window line and wide opening rear hatch.

Honda have taken the interior upmarket, giving the CR-V a more car-like cabin that employs black and matte silver hues, with black plastic and chrome trimmings. The new design dash includes easy-to-read analogue gauges and a digital multifunction display in the centre of the speedo. There’s a ring around the speedometer that glows green (in economy mode) if you are driving efficiently, that’s Honda’s way of enticing you to do just that; try to keep the green ring glowing.

2014 Honda CR-V DTi-S review

Unlike previous models, the dash connects to the console which contains the climate and audio controls, gearlever, handbrake, three cupholders, a covered storage box with a sliding armrest and a touchscreen with a reversing camera, phone and sat nav functions. Above it is another screen sunk into the middle dash for the audio controls.

The manually adjustable cloth front seats (with electrically adjustable lumbar support) in the entry model DTi-S are soft and comfortable and the rake and reach steering wheel made it easy to find a relaxed driving position. The rear seat, which is set slightly higher than the front pews, was equally comfy and featured a fold down centre armrest with two cupholders.

2014 Honda CR-V DTi-S review

There is oodles of head, leg and shoulder room in both front and back and the storage space is a useful 556 litres with the rear seat in place. When folded, it grows to 1648 litres and thanks to its ingenious ‘magic’ seats, first seen in the Jazz; the storage area has a flat floor. Underneath is a full-size alloy spare.

The CR-V DTi-S has an all-aluminium, four-cylinder, 2.2-litre turbo diesel engine with 110kW (at 4000rpm) and 350Nm (at 2000rpm). For a diesel, It’s a quiet, smooth unit and while initial takeoff is a tad lethargic, there’s good mid-range grunt meaning you don’t have to rev the CR-V DTi-S to get at its best. The useful low down torque helps it up hills and out of slower bends. It proved to be economical and we easily matched Honda’s official combined fuel economy figure of 5.8L/100km.

Honda is renowned for its manual gearboxes and the six speed manual transmission in the entry-model CR-V DTi-S is a delight to use. There’s a hint of sportiness to its changes and it snicks nicely from gear to gear, but the very light clutch lacks feel.

New to the diesel model is a 4WD system with Intelligent Control System that generates variable hydraulic pressure to operate a clutch assembly via the diff, for extra rear wheel grip on slippery surfaces.

2014 Honda CR-V DTi-S review

While we didn’t get to try the CR-V’s new found off-road prowess, we did take it where most will, a beach car park, a winding gravel road and a sports venue with a grass carpark. The CR-V took all three in its stride and from previous experience; the CR-V easily handled an outback run through the Flinders Ranges and along the Oodnadatta track to Lake Eyre.

On the road, the strut front and multi-link rear suspension with its long travel and soft set up produced a comfortable, easygoing ride. Cornering the 1664kg CR-V came with corresponding body roll, but despite that it felt quite composed on long sweeping bends, but tighter turns had it struggling for poise. The motion-adaptive electric power steering tends to over compensate at times making the steering feel a bit lifeless, especially in the straight ahead position and at highway speeds the CR-V suffered from noticeable wind noise around the mirrors and tyre roar, even on smooth surfaces.

The DTi-S is the entry diesel model and it’s $38,290 (+ORC) and for that you get daytime running lights, 17-inch alloys with a full size alloy spare, reversing camera, auto wipers and headlights, Bluetooth, fog lights, dual-zone climate control, sat-nav, rear parking sensors and auto-dimming rear view mirror as standard.

ANCAP has awarded the CR-V a five-star safety rating and it gets Vehicle Stability Assist, Traction Control, six airbags with roll over sensors, ABS with EBD, Hill Start and trailer assist, parking sensors and a reversing camera.

2014 Honda CR-V DTi-S

Price $38,290 (+ORC)

Warranty three years, 100,000km

Safety 5 stars ANCAP

Engine 2.2 litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel

Power/Torque 110kW/350Nm

Transmission six speed manual

Body 4570mm (L); 1820mm (W); 1685mm (H)

Weight 1664kg

Thirst 5.8L/100km (combined)


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