With the diesel trim now available, it’s become more common to see CR-Vs running around with i-DTEC badges on the rear, and understandably so; fuel is so much cheaper, it has more torque and the top-of-the-line SX variant comes endowed with the Honda Sensing Suite.
In case you’re wondering, i-DTEC doesn’t really stand for anything. It is a classification of Honda engines that use a common rail turbocharged direct injection engine.
While it is now easier to overlook the 2.0 S CVT because it is gas-powered, let me point out five features that still make it an astounding choice — and now a cheaper one as well — if you’re in the market for an SUV.
Comfort and performance
Having an entry-level price has its own pros and cons. At P1.648 million, this is the cheapest CR-V in the lineup, making it the immediate go-to choice if you’re in the market. As such, it doesn’t offer some of Honda’s newest safety and high-tier features, but you’d be remiss to think that it’s a barebones unit.
Probably the only carryover from the previous generation is the 2.0L 16-valve VTEC engine that silently produces 154 PS / 189 Nm of torque. That output is now more easily accessible with the new gearbox — a continuously variable transmission (CVT) — which makes the drive much smoother and more responsive.
You’ll need to prod and push it above 2k RPM to really feel the agility but it comes minus the lag and very faint clatter that’s noticeable in the diesel variant.
Ride comfort has always been high on Honda’s list of priorities and it remains to be so in the CR-V. The MacPherson Strut (front) and Multi-link (rear) suspension does a fine job, as expected, of delivering a high level of dampening versus road harshness and the surprise potholes that pop up along EDSA.
Upmarket interior amenities
The large seven-inch touchscreen it comes to play with is one of the best in the segment, but unlike the two top models, it does not have a navigation system. Icons are big enough to be clearly seen and easily clicked, and since it was put together in-house, all the apps were properly curated to avoid redundancy, and it all opens without delay.
It’s obviously not Accord-level but the cabin is put together very well with leather seats on both rows, brushed chrome, and leather accents on the panels plus soft-touch materials on the dashboard.
Shorter second-row seats seem to be more of an Asian fit and may look small overall but the upside is more legroom. You may be able to load some stuff with the 60:40 split-type configuration but with the ceiling slung just a little lower than its predecessor, cargo height will have to be taken into consideration.
It may not have the Earth Dreams technology of the diesel powerplant, but it still manages to spend gasoline wisely. With the Econ feature turned on the whole time, every and all aspects of its performance was nary compromised; climate control was superb even on hot and humid Manila days, delayed throttle response was barely noticeable and the CVT adjusted easily to the tweaked shift points.
After seven days of pure city driving and without aiming for higher fuel economy, it still returned a solid 9.5 kilometers per liter.
Multi-view reverse camera
What used to be just an added feature, especially for guys who pride themselves in driving the old-school way, has turned into somewhat of a necessity. Sure we can all back up into a parking slot no problem, but if you want to do it safely and without the ‘guesstimating’, a reverse camera is definitely in order. The CR-V may not be all that big but having this feature makes it that much easier to park. It’s multi-view, which is better than an off-the-shelf, third-party unit. It will save you from rear-end incidents, money and time.
Lane watch camera
Another highly appreciated feature is the discreetly positioned ‘lane watch camera’ that’s just right under the passenger side view mirror.
It’s not there to replace your obligation to check the right side view mirror every single time you merge or turn right to make sure the coast is clear; think of it as an extra eye — a third eye if you will — watching out to make sure you make the ‘right’ turn.
Loaded for an entry-level CR-V
Save for ceiling aircon vents, the sliding and reclining second row, a couple of extra cup holders and a few other minor features, you’re saving yourself almost P200,000 by getting this instead of the S Diesel.
You don’t get the diesel engine but it has a better transmission (in my opinion) with the CVT, more horsepower and the smooth performance gasoline-powered CR-Vs have been known for. It’s cheaper, yes, but after thorough inspection, the Honda CR-V 2.0 S CVT shows us it can keep up with its pricier siblings in more ways than one.
Text and photos by Eric Tipan