The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

First Drive Europe: 2013 Honda CR-V

2013 Honda CR-V (select to view enlarged photo)
2013 Honda CR-V (European Model Shown)

Europe to get 2013 Honda CR-V in November

By Henny Hemmes
Senior European Editor
The Auto Channel

MUNICH, Germany, September 10,2012. Almost a year after the market launch of the 2012 CR-V in North America, the fourth generation of Honda’s crossover will hit the European market. But that’s nothing new! Since the introduction of the first generation, the old continent has always been a bit ‘behind’ the US, which on its turn is almost a year behind Japan.

As from generation one, the European CR-V has been built in Honda’s plant in Swindon, Great-Britain. So it is no surprise that, apart from the suspension tuning, there are more differences, setting it apart from the American model.

2013 Honda CR-V (select to view enlarged photo)

In North America, the CR-V is a core model with the availability of only the 2.4-liter petrol engine. In Europe, the Honda is marketed much broader in the segment. You could say in the more expensive part of the segment, where it is one of the top models. Hence the use of different, more expensive looking materials and – no surprise – the availability of Honda’s

2.2-liter i-DTEC diesel engine, which will also be available in South America.

The 2013 CR-V also has the more expensive halogen projector beams and LED tail lamps, while an power tail gate also is standard. Another Europe-only feature is the arm rest in the center console.

In the US the CR-V comes on all-weather tires, while the CR-V is used frequently for off road driving, which is hardly the case in Europe. This also resulted in a different front bumper: the American model has a larger approach angle whereas the European bumper is more aerodynamic.

Since the market introduction of the CR-V in the second half of the nineties, some 5 million units have been sold in 160 countries world wide. In its short existence also the new generation has already proven to be very successful and won J.D Power's Initial Quality Study in the US in its class.

From the start in 2008 of the conception development, Honda has focused on the further change from SUV to CUV with more attention to durability. “People change, their lifestyle changes. The new CR-V is Honda’s response to increasing environmental awareness,” said Christoph Rust, spokesman for Honda Motor Europe.

This means more efficiency, not only with respect to fuel consumption, but also to packaging and to daily use. “While functionality is more intuitive, practical and the elevated seating, visibility and active safety should give driver and passenger(s) more confidence.” The Honda engineers did not want to give a value for the aerodynamics of the CR-V. “Every manufacturer measures this in a different way. There is no standard. But the new CR-V is 6,5 percent better than its predecessor. Closest is the Audi Q5 and then the BMW X3,” says Rust. This has mainly been achieved by the aerodynamic spoiler, the angle of the A-pillar, the rear spoiler and a flat underbody, which is essential when you have a relatively high car.

2013 Honda CR-V (select to view enlarged photo)

Even though length and height have been reduced by 1 inch and a third inch respectively, the interior space did not shrink. By lowering the so-called hip point for the rear passengers, with 1.5 inch, the head room increased by nearly 3.5 inches. The bottom of the wind shield has been moved forward by 2.3 inches which added more interior space and by reducing the length of the redesigned bonnet, the driver has a better overview. Add to this a 10 mm increase in steering wheel and seat height adjustments and the driver has a broader range to find the best driving position.

Exterior designer Manabu Konaka is especially happy with the rear window design, that benefits the boot space. By only one fold-down motion a button, the rear seats can be folded plat, thus extending the boot capacity from 147 liters to 1648 liters, allowing for transporting two mountain bikes.

2013 Honda CR-V (select to view enlarged photo)

As soon as you get into the cabin of the CRV, you are aware of the roominess inside. Head room both in the front as well as in the rear is excellent, while rear passengers also have enough leg room. The back rests of all seats, indeed also in the rear are long enough for tall people. Meaning that in the CR-V the head rest supports what it is meant for: the head. And not the shoulder blades, as is still the case in several cars. But my co-driver and I both thought that the seat cushions could have been more sculpted. This does not mean you fall from your seat in fast corners, where the Honda feels at ease indeed. Thanks to the new electronically controlled all wheel drive system, that sheds some 17 percent of the weight of the former 4WD-system, driving dynamics are surprisingly good.

I drove with the diesel and petrol engine. The 150 hp strong 2.2 i-DTEC diesel has 350 Nm/258 lb-ft. of torque. It effortlessly accelerates from 2,000 rpm to higher revs and is very quiet as well.

The 2.0 i-VTEC petrol engine (155 hp and 192 Nm/ 142lb-ft of torque at4,300 rpm) is somewhat noisier during acceleration. Because of its lower torque you really have to push the throttle to move the 1600 kg heavy CR-V, but when cruising at say 80 mph the noise is repressed and you only hear some wind noise over the mirrors and the roof.

I asked the Honda engineers why the CR-V still is equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission This is because Honda is developing a whole new generation of transmissions, both automatic and manual. However, we may not expect them to be introduced before 2014. Until then the R-V has to do with the current automatic, which seems a bit outdated, but does the work without any problems and is well geared for both engines. The standard transmission is a 6-speed stick shift.

2013 Honda CR-V (select to view enlarged photo)

I should not forget to mention that there is a slew of storage compartments, including door pockets with space for two (!)and a center console with space for three bottles. They compensate the small glove compartment in the dashboard. Not new, but adding to safety is a feature for Moms and Dads: open the sunglass storage and ‘unfold’ a ‘child-watch mirror.

The CR-V is a nice vehicle with (availability of) a lot of safety features, such as trailer stability assist, emergency stop system, whiplash mitigation system and Honda’s ADAS, Advanced Driver Assist system which includes collision mitigation braking, lane keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Behind the steering wheel, it gives you a confident feel and provides even some sort of sportiness, if you can say this for a high-heeled car as the CR-V.

We may prices for the European countries to be announced within 14 days. Honda Motor Europe aims at keeping them on the same level as those of the current model. With the addition of a front wheel drive 2-liter i-VTEC model, we may expect the base price to be competitive.