Honda CR-V LX: Sixth and the best

Riley Riley

2023 Honda CR V LX 1 

What is it?

It’s been a little over 12 months since we drove the previous Honda CR-V.

Introduced to Australia in 1997, CR-V has grown to become Honda’s most successful model globally.

Released in July last year the sixth-generation of the five- and seven-seat SUV, like its predecessors, is targeted at families.

This time around the styling is more sophisticated and some might say sporty, with particular attention to the interior.

As Japanese car makers fight to stave off the onslaught of increasingly better Chinese competitors, Honda was one of the first companies to take the high ground.

It cut costs, discarded dealers and moved to a fixed price, ‘haggle-free’ sales system that saw product lines rationalised and the emergence of a more premium lineup, but with a price tag to match.

What else could it do?

Sales are down eight per cent year on year, but this figure does not reflect the higher profit margins that the new structure must be generating.

CR-V is the company’s best-seller here, with 8123 sales last year, but this year’s sales are down more than three per cent — despite the introduction of an all-new model.

Time will tell.

2023 Honda CR V LX 2

What’s it cost?

There’s six colours and seven variants from which to choose: VTi X, VTi X7, VTi L, VTi L7, VTI L AWD, VTi LX AWD and e:HEV RS. 

The latter is a petrol-electric, self-charging hybrid.

Prices start from $44,500 driveaway for the five-seat 1.5-litre VTi X with an auto. The VTi X7 (same model with seven seats) is priced from $46,800.

Our test vehicle the VTi LX AWD is priced from $57,000 driveaway. Sitting one step above and at the top of the line hybrid e:HEV RS is $59,900 — or another $2900.

At 4694mm, it’s 59mm longer than before, with a 40mm longer wheelbase that provides 15mm more rear legroom.

Entry VTi X comes with 17-inch wheels, premium fabric seats, two-zone climate control with rear air vents, powered driver seat, smart keyless entry with push button start and walk-away automatic door locking.

There’s also a power-operated tailgate, adaptive LED headlights, auto lights (but not wipers), front and rear park sensors, 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment, eight-speaker audio and wireless phone charging.

VTi-L adds 18-inch alloys, leather trim, ‘i-two zone climate control’, heated front seats, driver-seat memory, powered front passenger seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter, auto dimming rear view mirror, and auto rain-sensing wipers.

LX jumps to 19-inch alloys, a panoramic sunroof and 12-speaker Bose audio.

CR-V comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, plus 5-year roadside assistance.

Uber drivers take note however because the warranty reverts to 5-years and 140,000km if the car is used for a commercial purpose (which includes rideshare).

Service intervals are 12 months or 10,000km, with the first five visits capped at $199.

Variants with satellite navigation receive five years of complimentary over the air map updates.

Infotainment consists of a 9.0-inch colour touchscreen, eight-speaker audio, active noise control, Bluetooth, AM/FM/DAB+ digital radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto, wireless smartphone charging pad plus connection to the Honda Connect app.

VTi-L adds satellite navigation and a Smart KeyCard.

There’s USB-A and -C ports in front, along with a 12 volt/180W outlet, with another two USB-C ports in the back and a 12 volt outlet in the luggage area.

CR-V is yet to be rated by ANCAP for safety.

An improved Honda Sensing safety system features a total of 11 airbags, with a new front camera and radar system.

Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure has been updated to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front, side, and rear of the vehicle. 

There’s also forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure and lane keep assist, traffic jam assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, low-speed braking control, traffic sign recognition and high beam support.

VTi-L and above add blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert with e:HEV RS also getting LED active cornering lights and adaptive driving beam.

However, there’s no head-up display or 360-degree camera.

CR-V comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, with 5-year roadside assistance.

Uber drivers take not however because the warranty reverts to 5-years and 140,000km if the car is used for a commercial purpose which includes ride share.

Service intervals are 12 months or 10,000km, with the first five visits capped at just $199 each.

Variants with satellite navigation also receive five years of complimentary over the airmap updates.

2023 Honda CR V LX 6

What’s it go like?

Most of the improvements appear to be in the styling area, both inside and out.

Repositioning of the front roof pillars and relocation of the side mirrors to the doors, have achieved a sportier, raked look and better forward visibility.

Honda interiors have always been functional but cheap and the CR-V is a definite step forward in this regard, although it still falls short of premium.

The previous model looked pretty good. This one looks slicker and more mainstream, with its black honeycomb grille and slitted LED headlights.

The tail lights remain recognisably the same.

Inside the instrument binnacle is the same general shape as before, but the rest of the dash has been redesigned with a freestanding touchscreen and long thin air vent that spans the breadth of the cabin — a la Civic.

In this grade, the instrument panel is fully digital, but retains the look and feel of an analogue unit, with twin circular dials for tacho and speed. 

You can’t change the appearance, at least not easily.

The 1.5-litre turbocharged four carries over. 

While it produces exactly the same amount of power and torque, we’re told it has been significantly revised.

Full power of 140kW arrives at 6000 rpm, 500 rpm later in the rev range, while maximum torque of 240Nm is generated 300 rpm earlier – between 1700 and 5000 rpm.

In comparison the hybrid with two electric motors delivers 135kW and 335Nm, the latter figure the more significant as it is produced from get-go — between 0 and 2000 rpm. 

Transmission is via a CVT continuously variable unit with seven steps or gears that are controlled by change paddles.

In the hybrid these paddles have been repurposed to control the level of regenerative braking.

Our LX AWD uses a claimed 7.7L/100km of standard unleaded, while they reckon the top of the line hybrid e:HEV RS is good for 5.5L/100km (not exactly a game changer).

The turbo produces 176g/100km of CO2, while the hybrid is rated at 125g/100km (worth consideration). 

VTEC variable valve timing and lift control have been added to the exhaust side of the twin-cam head to improve fuel efficiency.

That said it still uses more fuel and produces more carbon than the equivalent model that we tested 12 months ago which was good for 7.4L/100km.

Improving acceleration is a high-efficiency, high-response turbocharger and low pressure-loss turbocharger piping. 

Engine noise has also been significantly reduced with a new high-rigidity crankshaft, oil pan, and a new intake cover.

Further noise reduction comes from noise-absorbing engine mounts and a new muffler shape.

In order to reduce belt noise, the thickness of the transmission casing has been increased, with added ribs to increase case rigidity and suppress vibration.

For the sixth generation the Real Time AWD system is quieter and features an improved control module with increased processor speed, improving handling performance as well as traction management in slippery conditions.

Ride quality is where it should be for the target buyer of this car and that is middle of the road.

You could argue it is a little soft, with too much body roll when you punt it — but remember this is a vehicle designed for comfort rather than being driven hard.

The steering is light and reflects this approach nor do the brakes require much effort.

In keeping with its AWD status, this model gets a 10mm lift in ground clearance to a creditable 208mm which means you can safely tackle rougher dirt roads.

CR-V features up to three driving modes: Normal, Econ which reduces throttle and transmission sensitivity as well as air conditioning output to help preserve fuel efficiency, and Sport mode that enhances throttle response and engine sound.

Alas, the e:HEV is the only grade that gets Sport mode. Gotta love marketing.

But dropping the transmission into the ‘S’ position acts as a defacto sport mode, keeping engine revs to around the 3000 mark where the car performs best.

Significant improvements to the CR-V’s structural stiffness, including a redesigned front sub-frame, benefit its ride quality, handling, and collision safety protection.

The interior has been optimised to make the  cabin and cargo feel more spacious in both five- and seven- seat variants, with the second row able to slide, providing more legroom if required.

As well as 15mm more legroom, the rear seat now offers 16 different recline settings instead of two and is able to recline a further 10.5 degrees.

Honda claims the third row in seven-seat variants can comfortably accommodate 170cm tall occupants, with access via a single action lever on top of the second-row seat.

In terms of fuel consumption, we were getting 8.7L/100km after more than 440km of mixed driving.

2023 Honda CR V LX 5

What we like?

  • All so easy
  • Rear air vents
  • Full size alloy spare

2023 Honda CR V LX 7

What we don’t like?

  • Lacks punch
  • CVT transmission
  • Fuel consumption a bit high

2023 Honda CR V LX 3

The bottom line?

Despite its immense practicality, new CR-V lacks the fun factor.

As soon as you start pushing hard, the wagon starts to feel underdone, revving for not much result.

The CVT also becomes noisy and starts to slur, and on one occasion failed to drop back after rapid deceleration – a little like throttle overrun.

For an extra three grand the hybrid could stack up. 

On the other hand, it’s quiet and reasonably comfortable and an excellent fit for families looking for a traditional wagon with value in mind.

2023 Honda CR V LX 4


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Honda CR-V LX AWD, priced from $57,000 driveaway
  • Looks - 7.5/10
  • Performance - 6/10
  • Safety - 8/10
  • Thirst - 7/10
  • Practicality - 8/10
  • Comfort - 7.5/10
  • Tech - 7.5/10
  • Value - 7.5/10

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