‘Car-like’ is a bit of a buzz word in the SUV category at the moment. It seems every manufacturer under the sun is launching a 4x4 vehicle with improved on-road presence. The reality is that customers are demanding better driving dynamics from SUVs and there’s been a shift in buying trends – away from rugged off-road performance and towards more-sophisticated, flexible, ‘car-like’ 4x4s.
The good news for Honda is we’ve always had a ‘king of the road’ in this market. The CR-V has always been a practical, fine-handling family car – rather than a large, clumsy off-roader. It’s won numerous ‘school run’ group tests in magazines, and has been applauded for its impeccable road manners compared to the competition.
The good news for customers is that because we were already in such a strong on-road position with CR-V, we were able to make the latest generation of the car even more like a saloon in terms of cornering ability, equipment levels and styling. Honda designers and engineers used D-sector cars as benchmarks – not other 4x4s. That means handling, ride and specification on the new CR-V are comparable with cars like the Accord Tourer and the Volkswagen Passat.
Never mind the D-sector: In the face of ‘Anti 4x4’ campaigns and ‘Chelsea tractor’ claims, Honda has built a petrol-engined SUV with CO2 emissions lower than a Mini Cooper!* And, just like in the handling and equipment stakes, fuel economy is on a par with several estate cars. The CR-V equipped with our 2.2 diesel engine – the acclaimed, cleaner, quieter i-CTDi engine no less – tells a similar story: low emissions, high mpg.
Launched at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, the original Honda CR-V was one of the first of the modern generation of ‘soft roaders’ and became a benchmark for this fast-growing segment.
Sales began in Europe in 1997 and the CR-V quickly became a firm favourite with buyers. It was so successful in fact, that production of European models was soon transferred to Honda’s Swindon plant.
Launched in early 2002, the second generation CR-V built on its predecessor’s success, retaining the popular 4x4 styling and the ‘on demand’ Dual Pump 4WD transmission. Enviable economy was achieved through the adoption of Honda’s 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine, while a new body structure delivered greater interior space as well as setting new class standards in occupant and pedestrian safety.
The CR-V has consistently been one of the best-selling petrol-engined SUVs in the UK, but in 2005 it received a further sales boost with the introduction of Honda’s much acclaimed i-CTDi diesel engine. Fresh new styling front and rear, interior improvements and equipment enhancement coincided with the introduction of the new engine.
The CR-V is a truly global product for Honda. Since 1996, nearly 2.5 million CR-Vs have been sold in 160 countries – more countries than any other Honda automotive product. European sales in 2005 were 59,000 out of a total 334,000 worldwide. In the UK in 2005, Honda sold 16,700 CRVs.
Aims If the driving dynamics of an estate car can be emulated in an SUV – why can’t the new CR-V borrow some design cues from the D-sector? The answer is that it can.
Designers working on the body shape and style of the new Honda tried to incorporate as many design features from saloon and estate cars, while retaining some traditional SUV lines and characteristics. Thus, while the lower half of the body has a chunky feel with muscular wheelarches flowing into the pronounced lower edge of the door panels – the upper body is characterised by a smoother, more elegant design. Fluid curves replace the upright and classic ‘two-box’ SUV shape. Exterior Practicality was a key word on the lips of the design team, which is why black trim runs beneath the sills and continues around the lower edges of the bumpers, designed to absorb minor scuffs – and to hint at the car’s 4WD capabilities.
Large 17-inch wheels and tyres fill the wheelarches and the lower edge of the bumper houses circular fog lamps (where fitted).
Elsewhere, the large front bumper and the pronounced bonnet with its distinctive chrome double grille helps give the CR-V a confident, purposeful stance. The lower part of the grille joins both headlamps in a sweeping ‘S’ style design. Those twin projector-style headlamps are housed behind elliptical light clusters. The light assembly consists of an outer indicator, a central low beam and an inner high beam. High beam light distribution is improved by 17 per cent and low beam by 14 per cent over the previous CR-V as a result of the advanced reflector technology.
The equally-distinctive tail-light assemblies extend from below the waistline to the top of the tailgate up the corner edges of the car. From the bottom, they comprise foglamp (on the driver’s side), reversing lamp, turn indicator, tail light, brake light and then tail light.
The arched side window profile is the section of the CR-V that perhaps most reflects car design. It features an upper edge that dramatically sweeps downwards towards the rear, almost like a coupe. The roof line also slopes rearwards, but not to the same degree, resulting in a large D-pillar.
Chrome pull-type handles on each door feature a distinctive sculpted shape, and in common with other recently-launched Hondas, the CR-V’s door mirror housings contain LED indicators.
As with all Honda cars, this model has outstanding standards of fit and finish. The incredible attention to detail is evident in the accuracy of the body panel fit. New CR-V features what is known as a ‘zero’ gap for the front and rear bumpers, or less than 1mm. This keeps collision costs to a minimum by isolating various body components so fewer require replacing in the event of an accident.
A significant difference compared to the old model is the relocation of the spare wheel from the tailgate to beneath the load floor, following customer feedback that suggested a top hinged tailgate would be preferable. This also moves the SUV further away from the off-road ‘adventure’ crowd, and reflects its strong on-road ability.
A new range of colours has been chosen to enhance the CR-V’s sophisticated exterior. The choice is as follows: Metallics – Whistler Silver, Champagne Silver, Moorland Green, Blueish Silver. Pearlescents – Sparkle Grey, Nighthawk Black and Royal Blue. The solid colour available is Milano Red.
Dimensions Compared to its predecessor, the new CR-V is around 100mm shorter (4530mm), largely due to the relocation of the spare wheel. It’s 40mm wider (1820mm), while height is down by 30mm (1805mm including roof antenna). The wheelbase is reduced from 2630 to 2620mm, and front and rear tracks at 1565mm are 25 and 5mm wider, respectively.
As we’ve already acknowledged, many SUV customer choose a vehicle of this type because of its higher seating position. The CR-V retains its ‘command view’ seating, and the driver’s line of sight (at a height of 1325mm) remains unchanged. The driver’s angle of vision from the horizontal down to the bonnet line is 14 degrees, for good forward visibility.
Relatively compact external dimensions make the CR-V one of the most manoeuvrable contenders in its class, with a tight turning circle complementing the good visibility. Most CR-Vs will spend much of their time on-road, but when called upon to tackle more demanding terrain, good ground clearance and an approach angle of 28 degrees, departure angle of 23 degrees and break-over angle of 18 degrees ensure CR-V is up to the job.
Reduced drag coefficient One of the key elements behind the new CR-V’s excellent fuel economy is a 12 per cent lower drag coefficient. A significant part of that reduction is down to careful analysis of the air flow beneath the car. The use of strakes ahead of the front and rear wheels, cover panels beneath the cabin and a rear undercover decrease levels of turbulence.
The CR-V’s slippery body also keeps down wind noise, further helped by the curved shapes of the A-pillar cross section and door mirrors, and by using double seals around all the doors.
Double Deck rear cargo shelf for loading flexibility
Larger load space
Greater width creates sense of cabin space
Larger, more comfortable front seats
Reclining and sliding rear seats
Panoramic glass roof available
Inside the cabin The new CR-V’s interior successfully blends the best elements of SUV, MPV and saloon to deliver practicality with high levels of comfort and quality.
The design theme for the inside of the vehicle is a chunky, solid look using premium materials. But it also offers advanced technology and sophistication you’d normally expect to see in a saloon.
Progressive illumination is designed to give the CR-V a ‘welcoming’ feel. When the driver door is first opened, the instrument lighting comes to life, and then brightens to 100 per cent when the ignition is switched on. The instrument needles and lights then come alive, indicating that the CR-V is ready to go. At the end of the drive, the instrument lighting slowly dims. Wider, more comfortable seats The front seats are bigger – to accommodate almost gargantuan behinds – with 10mm wider and 7mm longer bases, and 4mm wider and 27mm taller seat backs.
The standard seat height adjustment has also been improved, up from 25 to 40mm, and is now set by means of an up/down ratchet lever rather than a rotary control. Increasing the slide rail angle by two degrees plays a significant role in providing occupants with more support during sharp braking, while the seats can now be slid rearwards by an additional 20mm (welcome news for the vertically gifted).
The seats themselves are made up mostly of high strength steel, with composite components used in the base and the seatback to minimise weight. EX grade models feature the added luxury of eight way power adjustment plus power lumbar on the driver’s seat.
The steering wheel is now adjustable for reach as well as rake – over a range of 30mm in each case – enabling drivers to fine tune their driving position. The angle of the steering wheel has also been raised by two degrees.
Below the gear lever, at the base of the centre stack, are two cubby holes and above are the large rotary controls for the air conditioning. Above this on SE and ES models is the AM/FM radio and single CD player. The EX grade adds a 6xCD player, a high-output audio system and a subwoofer.
Various switches around the cabin are illuminated for easier use in the dark, including those for the windows, door locks, door mirrors, the VSA and the steering wheel mounted controls. Gentle overhead illumination bathes the centre console in a stylish pool of light.
Storage Convenient storage areas are easily accessible throughout the interior and include an illuminated 6.9-litre glovebox and above it, a useful lidded passenger tray with a capacity of 3.1-litres. Sizeable door bins front and rear are able to hold a 500ml bottle.
The 6.5-litre storage box at the rear of the centre console has sufficient capacity to hold up to 24 CD cases, and features a sliding cover. It contains an auxiliary audio input jack, allowing operation of an MP3 player, as well as a 12V accessory socket. Ahead of the storage box on the right are two cupholders, and to the left a storage tray and the heated seat switches (where fitted). The handbrake housed on the leading edge of the centre console has a unique, compact design, featuring a button release to one side, with a clever wire linkage requiring only limited space for its operation.
Further cabin storage is provided by a sliding box beneath the front passenger seat and pockets within the dash – both beneath the steering wheel and at steering wheel height. There are twin cup holders within the rear seat centre armrest, ‘magically’ revealed when it is folded down.
Honda has thought to provide five ISOFIX fixtures on the rear seats. It means parents can fit either one or two outer child seats or one seat in the central position. The rear seats can be slid forward as two independent sections, which allows this more flexible child seating arrangement.
Both ES and EX models can be equipped with satellite navigation featuring a touch screen 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth connectivity and voice recognition. It also has a digital audio car reader which can play MP3 and WMA files from SD, CompactFlash, and Flash ATA memory cards. The package also includes a high output audio system with four channel 43W output plus single channel 90W output to a subwoofer.
First revealed on the Civic 5-door model, the panoramic glass roof is now also available on the new CR-V as standard equipment on EX grade models and optional on ES. The laminated and tinted glass roof panel runs from the top of the windscreen and stretches over the rear seat occupants, which helps create a light and airy cabin.
From the inside, the panel is sub-divided into two 750mm wide x 354mm long sections by the roof lining. This central part houses the two electrically operated blinds which unfurl to conceal the glass panels. The overhead console switch prompts automatic opening/closing, while partial operation allows manual opening/closing.
Exit and entry to and from CR-V is now even easier: the side sill step height has been lowered by 32mm both front and rear. Plus, the seat cushion’s height is the same as the hip height of an average height adult, so passengers do not have to ‘climb’ in and out of the seats.
The cabin dimensions of the new CR-V are generally unchanged, which means it continues to offer class-leading levels of comfort and space, further boosted by the slightly greater body width. The rear tailgate is also effectively ‘pushed’ backwards, relative to the old model, which means the space occupied by the former spare wheel can be used. Double Deck shelf We promised that while making the CR-V more sophisticated and stylish, we wouldn’t discard the practical features that made the previous generation such winners. And the new ‘Double Deck’ cargo space in the latest car is proof of the CR-V’s improved flexibility.
A light, but substantial, shelf effectively creates an upper and a lower luggage area. Its location – at 330mm above the load bay floor – is based on the dimensions of an average collapsed pushchair, allowing one to be comfortably stored beneath it. An obvious benefit is that it conceals items from prying eyes, but it also allows the possibility of much neater storage and sub-division of luggage. Retrieving an item at the very bottom is also less likely to need the removal of the complete load. The shelf is hinged across its width, which makes gaining access to items on the lower level even easier.
In double deck mode it sits on a protruding edge formed by the luggage area side panels. Reverting to a conventional arrangement simply means lifting it out of the car altogether, or laying it flat on the load bay floor where it sits snugly in a perfectly shaped recess, out of the way.
Load space Load space length has been increased and now measures 925mm with the rear seats in place and slid back to their rearmost point, rising to a total length of 1375mm with the seats fully folded. The standard cargo volume behind the second row (seats upright) measures 556 litres (VDA), rising to 955 litres with the seats fully folded (both to the window line).
With a rear cargo width of 1390mm (1000mm between the wheelarches) the CR-V luggage area will comfortably accommodate a set of golf clubs beneath the double deck shelf, while further items can be stored on the upper level. With the rear seats fully stowed, there is sufficient space for four large suitcases to be stood upright, but to give you a really clear picture of the space available, two 26-inch mountain bikes can be carried upright without removing their front wheels. The word you are looking for is gigantispacious.
Further security is provided by a double retractable tonneau cover (optional on SE models). The rear cover is full width, while the forward opening one is split three ways, to correspond with the three split seatbacks; each element then clips to its corresponding headrest. Rear seats The previous CR-V featured 60:40 split seat backs and cushions, but the new model adds further flexibility by having seat backs split 40:20:40. It means the centre section can be folded down independently to provide a ‘boot through’ facility for particularly long items while still accommodating two rear seat passengers – or indeed a flat working surface or table. The centre section also features an armrest which reveals twin cup holders when folded down.
In addition, each of the 60:40 split seat bases slides by 150mm allowing either leg room or luggage space to be maximised. Depending on the items being carried, the sliding action also allows the rear seat to be moved into a position that braces the load.
Each of the three sections can also be reclined by pulling up on the small handle on the top of the seat back. The same handle is also used to release the seat backs when they are to be stowed. Once the seat backs have been collapsed, a second handle behind the squabs is used to tip either of the 60:40 split units forwards into the vertical storage position (there is no need to remove the headrests first).
Since the rear seats can be reclined and slid back, fully reclining the front seats allows the interior to be converted into a comfortable resting area. Now you can sleep in your CR-V! Could it get any more flexible?
Easy-open tailgate We’ve replaced the side-opening rear door with a particularly-large tailgate, the opening of which is 950mm in height (up 45mm) and 1390mm (up 10 mm). The load sill is also a convenient 689mm from ground level.
The tailgate is hinged relatively far forward and can therefore be opened in reduced clearance situations, and is less susceptible to closely parked vehicles than a side-hinged design. And of course, it provides shelter from the elements when open!
In this sector, the CR-V’s pretty compact, which coupled with its tight turning circle make it ideal in an urban environment. Further help when negotiating congested streets comes from front and rear parking sensors.
The system comprises a sensor at each of the four corners, plus an additional two at the rear and a display located in the centre of the instrument cluster. The proximity of the vehicle to an obstacle is relayed to the driver by a flashing car graphic on the dash and the increasing frequency of a beeper. Rear sensors are only activated when reverse gear has been selected.
A rear-view colour camera, optional on ES and EX models, makes the process of reversing even simpler. Mounted above the licence plate, it provides a view extending 131 degrees horizontally and 91 degrees vertically in the area directly behind the tailgate. The image is displayed on the satellite navigation screen to provide an instant indication of potential hazards and obstacles.
Brand new 2.0 i-VTEC petrol engine delivers high performance with maximum economy
Renowned 2.2 i-CTDi diesel engine continues and offers even better fuel consumption
Both engines produce emissions lower than some D-sector cars
New 6-speed manual and 5-speed automatic transmissions on petrol models
The 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine New, efficient engine means petrol models are faster but more frugal Output figures for the new 2.0-litre petrol engine are around the same as its predecessor. Power output is the same at 150PS, although that’s produced at a slightly lower 6,200rpm, while peak torque is 140lb.ft at 4,200rpm.
Fuel economy is boosted due to greater efficiency from the new engine, new gearboxes and improved vehicle aerodynamics. On the Combined cycle, the manual version records an impressive 34.9mpg (34.5mpg auto gearbox), which is significantly better than the previous generation CR-V – and importantly compares favourably to other SUVs in the class (see table below).
Performance is also enhanced, with the 0 to 62mph acceleration time dropping from 10.8 to 10.2 seconds for manual models (13.1 to 12.2 seconds for the auto).
Getting technical The CR-V’s 1997cc 2.0-litre SOHC i-VTEC petrol engine – like the Civic 5-door’s 1.8-litre unit – is part of Honda’s NP4 family of engines.
Both use Honda’s VTEC technology and control systems expertise, with a further innovation to boost environmental performance. Delayed intake valve closure is combined with a wide open throttle valve during low-load driving conditions, which means pumping losses are reduced considerably, boosting fuel economy.
In conventional petrol engines, the accelerator pedal is directly connected to a throttle valve that opens and closes, adjusting the volume of intake air. Under low-load conditions (i.e. when the driver is pressing lightly on the accelerator pedal) the throttle valve is opened only slightly. This narrowing of the intake passage causes resistance, pumping losses and has a negative impact on fuel economy.
The 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine features two sets of cams: high output cams and fuel economy cams, which both adjust valve timing and lift. During acceleration and other high-load conditions, the high output cams help deliver a superior driving performance. During cruising and other stable low-load driving conditions, the fuel economy cams retard the closure of the intake valve and the throttle valve is opened wide. In this position, the output would normally be very high but since the intake valve closure is delayed, some of the air/fuel mixture is momentarily expelled back out of the combustion chamber, minimising unnecessary output and thus improving fuel economy. Thanks to the synchronised operation of the intake and throttle valves, output is optimised and pumping losses are minimised. Meanwhile, the drive-by-wire throttle balances the switch between high output cams and fuel economy cams, making the driving experience smooth, with minimal torque variation.
The VTEC technology only operates if the water temperature is over 60ºC, if 2nd or a higher gear is in use, if the vehicle speed exceeds 6mph and if the engine is revving between 1,000 and 3,500rpm.
In pursuit of even higher fuel economy, the new 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine also incorporates the latest friction reducing technologies. The piston skirts are shot with a solid lubricant (molybdenum disulphide) while an ion plating process is used on the piston rings to ensure reduced friction. Plateau honing of the cylinders results in a smoother surface and improved oil film retention. As a result, friction is reduced by around ten per cent.
Elsewhere, variable length intake manifolds make the intake system longer at low rpm and shorter at higher rpm – ensuring the optimum intake ram effect is maintained to deliver torquey driving performance throughout the rpm range.
Piston oil jets are another innovation on the petrol engine, a feature usually associated with high performance engines. These supply superior cooling, to improve durability against knocking – allowing the engine to run with a high compression ratio of 10.5:1. Emissions Along with improved fuel economy, the new engine offers cleaner emissions performance. The new i-VTEC engine uses an airflow meter and a linear airflow sensor, together with the latest control technology. Together, these achieve extremely precise control over the air/fuel ratio which results in cleaner exhaust emissions.
Also, newly-developed cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds are employed, with two catalytic converters positioned immediately after the manifold. When high temperature combustion gases enter the catalytic converter, its temperature is raised rapidly, helping to optimise performance right after the engine is started.
Overall, the engine is also lighter in weight, thanks to an all-aluminium lower block and plastic material used in the cylinder head cover, chain guard and chain tensioner arm. Aluminium rocker arms and high-strength connecting rods provide a significant reduction in the inertia of moving parts.
2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel engine Diesel models benefit from improved aerodynamics. Honda’s exceptionally-refined 2.2 i-CTDi diesel features again in the CR-V. It develops 140PS at 4,000rpm while maximum torque is 251lb.ft at 2,000rpm.
The more stylish, sleeker exterior of the CR-V is not only pleasing on the eye – it also helps the diesel-engined car improve its fuel consumption figures. The more slippery shape of the car boosts economy in the Combined cycle from 42.2mpg to 43.5mpg. Slightly revised gearing, a remapped ECU and reduced tyre rolling resistance also contribute to this performance. It means the cruising range is also increased by 12.5 per cent.
Acceleration and top speed figures also benefit: maximum velocity is now 116mph, while the 0-62mph dash falls to 10.3 seconds. Reduced drag coefficient One of the key elements behind the new CR-V’s excellent fuel economy is a 12 per cent lower drag coefficient. A significant part of that reduction is down to careful analysis of the air flow beneath the car. The use of strakes ahead of the front and rear wheels, cover panels beneath the cabin and a rear undercover decrease levels of turbulence.
The CR-V’s slippery body also keeps down wind noise, further helped by the curved shapes of the A-pillar cross section and door mirrors, and by using double seals around all the doors.
As well as developing one of the highest peak torque figures among its contemporaries, Honda’s 2.2 diesel is incredibly flexible, offering near maximum output over a broad spread of engine speeds. Meanwhile, the 6-speed gearbox fully exploits the engine’s characteristics, the tall sixth gear making for relaxed and refined cruising.
Innovative use of materials and production technology has resulted in an engine that is light in weight, compact, yet immensely strong.
Key technologies include a continuously-variable swirl control valve (more detail below), an advanced common rail system and a variable nozzle turbocharger.
There are also many developments that help improve noise levels and general refinement. These include offset cylinders, a second order balancer shaft and an acoustic engine cover – while friction is minimised through features such as roller follower rocker arms. Close-coupled, under-floor catalytic converters contribute to the low emissions performance.
Intelligent combustion control A continuously-variable swirl control valve is located in the intake manifold chamber, and provides smooth control of the swirl ratio, varying from a high setting during idling and mid-range operating conditions, to a low setting at higher rpm.
The common rail injection system – providing pressures up to 1600 bar – regulates injection pressure and timing to give the best possible performance in all driving conditions. A small amount of fuel introduced prior to the main injection – called the pilot injection – helps lower combustion noise.
This common rail system works with the variable nozzle turbocharger to control intake pressure, producing higher intake pressures at a lower speed, as well as better fuel economy and fewer harmful emissions through lean burn combustion.
Exhaust gas recirculation, under the control of an electrically operated EGR valve, increases intake air volume and reduces oxides of nitrogen and particulates. Plus, water cooling of the exhaust gases prior to their recirculation helps to further reduce the formation of oxides of nitrogen.
Other features include:
Engine glowplug quick cold start system
Compact oil filter and oil cooler to reduce weight
Low servicing costs: 12,500mile or annual oil change, and 25,000mile air filter change
Pendulum type engine mountings, acoustic engine cover and under engine tray minimise engine noise
Transmissions The new 2.0-litre petrol is available with either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic gearbox, while the diesel model continues to use the 6-speed manual from the Accord 2.2-litre model – specifically adapted for the four-wheel drive application.
Positioning the gear shift lever at the base of the centre console on all the latest CR-V models means there’s greater front seat foot room and a flat and uncluttered floor.
Both manual transmissions benefit from light and fluid gear changes, thanks to the use of multi-cone synchronisers. An automatic, self-adjusting clutch gives consistent pedal performance and weight throughout its life.
The new 6-speed transmission on the petrol-engined CR-V gives a wider spread of ratios, while the final drive ratio has been lowered to compensate for the increased wheel size. Larger synchronisers provide a crisper shift feel, while a higher capacity clutch provides better take up of power.
Automatic gearbox Lower noise and relaxation were the key aims when developing the new 5-speed automatic ‘box for the CR-V 2.0-litre. Better fuel economy was an unexpected bonus.
The high-capacity auto transmission is an electronically controlled, constant mesh unit with lock-up torque converter and Grade Logic control. Lock-up operates from second to fifth gears.
Grade Logic is able to determine actual driving situations by measuring a variety of parameters including throttle position, road speed, rates of deceleration and acceleration and brake pedal application. Then, based on a series of shift maps, it selects appropriate shift points to provide smooth driving feel, reduced gear ‘hunting’ on steep inclines and enhanced engine braking on downhill stretches. A switch is now provided to select D3 when the lever is in the ‘D’ position. This enables the driver instantly to make use of added engine braking, for example, when descending a hill.
The DBW throttle helps to smooth gear shift shock and delay through the balancing of engine power at every point during the shifting process.
A super-thin torque converter, double-row idle gear and tightly packaged second gear clutch help to keep the transmission unit compact.
Centre of gravity lowered by 35mm for improved handling
Wider track front and rear
Larger 17-inch wheels as standard
Compact toe control link MacPherson strut front suspension
Compact reactive link double wishbone rear suspension
More responsive 4WD system
VSA with Trailer Stability Assist standard on all models
ABS, EBD braking and Brake Assist standard
Electric power steering on petrol models, hydraulic on diesel models
Many people who choose to drive an SUV, do so because they prefer the high driving position – it often gives a feeling of safety and confidence. Meanwhile, some drivers opt for a car in this category because they enjoy the assurance of four-wheel drive.
But if, primarily, you’re using an SUV on the road, is there a reason why that vehicle can’t offer all of the above, and still drive like a ‘normal’ car? It’s a question we at Honda asked ourselves. Too many SUVs are soggy and uninvolving. The ride is often wallowy and steering sometimes feels indirect. Couldn’t the new CR-V offer a higher driving position, the security of four-wheel drive, the practicality of an SUV and the driving characteristics of a saloon car? Err… well, yes it could.
The second generation CR-V was already pretty good on the road, but in developing the latest car, Honda has concentrated on increasing cornering agility, creating saloon-like ride quality and improving stability – all without compromising the car’s load space and practicality.
Centre of gravity
To deliver a flatter ride, with greater stability, the centre of gravity has been lowered by 35mm. The measures adopted included lower engine mountings, the repositioning of the spare wheel beneath the rear floor, and the reduced weight of certain items such as the tailgate and bonnet.
Front suspension The front suspension is specially designed and tuned for compact packaging, supple ride comfort and long wheel travel for harsh roads.
MacPherson struts are employed again at the front, but with new geometry, including a high caster angle ‘trail’, to provide sharp, on-centre response and stability.
Improved toe-control dynamics help deliver sharp and responsive steering. And to improve steering rigidity and reduce friction, the steering gear unit is mounted lower.
Suspension springs can, under compression, exert torsional forces and in doing so influence steering precision feel. On the CR-V, inversely wound springs (wound in the opposite direction to one another) effectively cancel each other out and neutralise this.
Significant changes to steering angles, bushes, material rigidity and spring and damper tuning give a far more linear suspension movement at the limit of compression for flatter cornering. The inner wheel remains closer to the perpendicular throughout a greater range of travel, improving tyre adhesion.
To improve ride comfort, the compliance angle on the lower control arm has been optimised to transmit less harshness. Further enhancements include reduced centre offset with the wheel to minimise the potential for torque steer.
Front suspension revisions:
Increased suspension stroke for greater comfort
A larger front to rear compliance bush for improved shimmy and harshness characteristics
An increased caster angle and caster trail, and higher friction damper bearings improve responses to steering input, on-centre feel and directional stability
Optimised king pin layout enhances steering feel and linearity
Increased anti-dive angle for greater braking stability
Rear suspension A super-compact rear suspension design minimises damper intrusion into the cabin, thus maximising luggage space.
The nature of the reactive link design means that, under braking, forces are transmitted through the suspension structure, causing the rear mounted toe control arm – located at 90 degrees to the force – to flex backwards.
The suspension assembly is pushed rearwards, which affects the bushes that fix the lower wishbone to the chassis. They move in a diagonal direction, which pulls the trailing arm into a toe-in direction.
The rear dampers feature a progressive valve design that gives both a smooth ride and precise handling characteristics. These units use valves that are less resistant to high speed damper piston movement (such as those created by bumps and road impacts when the car is at low speeds) and provide more resistance to the small, low-speed movements when the vehicle is at high speeds.
Rear suspension revisions:
A new cast aluminium knuckle reduces unsprung weight for improved ride comfort
Anti-roll bar diameter increased from 18 to 19mm further improves stability
A larger diameter lower arm compliance bushing for improved harshness characteristics
A new integrated hub and bearing unit offers greater lateral rigidity and as a result improves rear end tracking and damps down yaw changes
Greater responsiveness from repositioned trailing arm and upper arm mounting points
Increased anti-lift angle for greater braking stability
REAL TIME 4WD SYSTEM
The new CR-V continues to offer Honda’s efficient and convenient Real Time 4WD system which only comes into operation when required. It does so automatically, without any extra driver input. Real Time 4WD enables the CR-V to cope with light off-road driving – over dirt roads or slippery grass fields for example – while providing greater on-road security in slippery conditions.
In the latest system, uprated clutches, high tensile steel gears and a stronger casing allow 20 per cent more torque to be sent to the rear wheels for enhanced traction.
How it works In normal, everyday driving conditions, Real Time 4WD operates as a conventional front-wheel drive system. But if the front wheels begin to lose traction, then it automatically starts to send power to the rear wheels.
At its heart is Honda’s innovative Dual Pump unit, which is integrated with the rear differential. This features two hydraulic pumps, one driven by the front wheels via a transfer gear and propeller shaft, the other by the rear wheels via the rear differential.
While front and rear wheels turn at the same speed, the front and rear pumps operate at the same speed. During these conditions, hydraulic fluid circulates between the two pumps, however no pressure is generated. In effect, the fluid pressure created by the front pump is equalised by the rear pump.
If the front wheels begin to turn faster because of slippery conditions, then the two hydraulic pumps turn at different rates, and hydraulic pressure proportional to that difference is generated. That pressure is fed to a multi-plate clutch that engages the front propeller shaft to the rear diff, which then feeds precisely the correct amount of torque to the rear wheels to increase overall traction.
As rear wheel drive is only engaged when it is really necessary, frictional losses are reduced and thus there’s an improvement in fuel economy.
In 2005, an additional one way ball cam and pilot clutch system was introduced, which detects slippage and provides drive transfer instantaneously. The mechanism consists of two plates, separated by six ball cams (large bearings) that move within ramped grooves. When a slight difference in rotation speed exists between the rear wheels and front wheels, the ball cams move within the ramped grooves and create pressure to instantly engage the main clutch. This happens before hydraulic pressure is generated by the two hydraulic pumps, so driving torque is transferred without any time lag.
For 2007, the design has been enhanced further, providing better acceleration and hill climbing performance on slippery – in particular snow covered – surfaces, as well as smoother responses and improved performance when accelerating around corners or pulling away from slippery road junctions. It means the Dual Pump system matches even the best electronically controlled 4WD systems. The body CR-V uses a monocoque construction, rather than a separate body-on-frame, with all the benefits of improved rigidity, crash performance and weight reduction. It defines new standards for torsional and bending rigidity in the SUV market, achieving a level similar to D-segment saloons and a handling balance to match.
More high-tensile steel for lighter, stronger body The benefits of using a higher percentage (33.5 to 58 per cent) of high tensile steel in the body of the new CR-V are threefold: greater stiffness; lighter weight; better crash protection.
Almost 32kg are saved as a result of incorporating tougher and lighter materials throughout the body. The static bending stiffness has been improved by 85 per cent. There is also a better balance between front and rear lateral stiffness, and together with excellent rigidity around the damper fixing points, the CR-V delivers greater handling stability and response to driver input.
This increase in body rigidity, together with the use of more noise absorption materials, has also made the cabin a more relaxing environment – on a par with premium saloon cars. The potential for tyre noise has been reduced by adopting passenger car tyre patterns which don’t suffer from increasing noise as they progressively wear.
Specific additional items include:
Increased rigidity of the floor, roof, around the tailgate opening and the A and B pillars
Torque rod-type engine mounting to reduce engine idle and acceleration noise
Lightweight insulation applied to the dashboard, carpeting and roof lining to dampen high frequency road and engine noise
Complete front and rear door double sealing
Sound absorbing material applied to the inside of the roof, on the sides of the trunk, to the backs of the door panels, to the spare wheel cover and to the instrument panel
Sound absorbing material applied to the A pillar garnish
5mm glass, increased from 3.5mm used in the front doors
Sound insulating glass for the windscreen
VSA on all models VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) is standard across the CR-V range. It is designed to assist the driver in maintaining control during cornering, acceleration and sudden manoeuvres, by applying brake force to the right or left hand wheels as necessary and managing the throttle and ignition systems. In the new CR-V, the control software has been revised to complement the enhanced Dual Pump four-wheel drive system.
VSA monitors driver input using a series of sensors and then predicts a range of vehicle responses, while keeping an eye on the actual responses made by the car and the driver. If the actual response is outside the predicted response range, as when cornering forces exceed the tyres’ performance, VSA automatically intervenes with corrective action. The system is calibrated to provide stability and predictability, without interfering with driving enjoyment.
In the case of oversteer (which may lead to a spin), VSA applies braking to the outside front wheel to counter the yaw effect. On the other hand, if understeer is detected, VSA applies braking to the inside rear wheel and reduces engine power to turn the car back on to the intended course. Braking system All CR-Vs are equipped with 4-channel ABS and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) which adjusts front-to-rear brake effort to achieve maximum braking performance and stability.
In the event of a rear wheel locking-up on a slippery road, less braking pressure is applied to the opposite wheel to help stabilise the rear end. All models feature brake discs all round, 293mm ventilated at the front, and 302mm solid at the rear. The actual brake pedal action is now slightly shorter and lighter, for better control without being over-sensitive.
Meanwhile, a variable, speed-sensitive steering system features quick gear ratios for an agile response to driver inputs, providing greater assistance at low speeds for easier manoeuvring, and less at higher speeds for a more direct feel and stability.
Petrol-engined CR-Vs are equipped with electric power steering (EPS), while diesel-engined models use a hydraulically-assisted system.
Wheels and tyres 17-inch wheels are now fitted as standard on SE and ES models, shod with 225/65 R17 tyres, while 18-inch items are fitted to EX models. Low rolling resistance tyres contribute to the overall excellent fuel economy.
Towing It’s now easier and safer to tow using a CR-V thanks to an increase in the towing capacity on models equipped with manual transmission. On the petrol-engined model it rises from 1500 to 1600kg, and on the diesel from 1500kg to a very competitive 2000kg (braked trailer).
All CR-Vs are also fitted with Trailer Stability Assist, which will quickly restore stability by using a combination of reduced engine torque and precisely controlled braking should a towed trailer cause snaking.
The CR-V is equipped with a comprehensive array of the latest technologies to enhance active safety (accident avoidance) and passive safety (crash safety performance). Features like Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, enhanced handling and ABS enhance accident avoidance capability. HID xenon low-beam headlights on Executive models and the optionally available Active Front lighting System (AFS) contribute to superior night-time visibility.
Uniquely in this segment of the market, CR-V EX customers can also specify Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) which automatically maintains a consistent distance to a vehicle directly in front, for more relaxed, less tiring driving, and Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS). This monitors the following distance and closing rate between the CR-V and the car directly in front of it, warns the driver when a collision is likely and helps reduce impact when a collision becomes unavoidable (more details below).
Should a collision prove unavoidable, the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure of the new CR-V is designed to provide a protective cocoon for passengers. Inside, side, side curtain and dual-stage front airbag systems work together with sophisticated restraint systems to minimise injury to passengers in sufficient impacts.
Key standard passive safety features on the CR-V are:
3-point ELR, adjustable height, front seatbelts with load limiters and pretensioners
Front anti-whiplash adjustable head restraints
Three-point seatbelts in all three rear seating positions
Five ISOFIX fittings on rear seats allowing child seats to be fitted in either of the two outer seats or centrally
Driver’s and front passenger’s dual-stage, Supplementary Restraint System (SRS)
Driver’s and front passenger’s side airbags
Side curtain airbag system
Dual-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger are designed to provide protection for the head and chest during a moderate to severe front collision, while simultaneously helping to reduce injuries. Each airbag inflator has two stages. During a severe collision both stages fire at the same time to provide immediate inflation of the airbag. But during a moderate collision the igniters fire in sequence, slowing the deployment rate of the airbags.
Side curtain airbags are now standard across the range. In a sufficient side impact, these deploy from roof modules, providing head protection for front-seat as well as outboard rear-seat occupants. Side curtain airbags effectively cover the window area from the A-pillar back to the C-pillar, substantially reducing the impact forces and thus potential head injury. Side impact sensors are incorporated both front and rear and will only operate the airbag on the side of the impact. However, for added safety in the eventuality of the car rolling over, additional sensors are provided which activate the curtain airbags on both sides of the car. A roll rate sensor and multiple G sensors determine the rate of roll and deploy the airbags accordingly for optimum protection.
Active front seat headrests (on all models with the exception of S grade) play a key role in protecting against whiplash injury in the event of an accident, and Honda is anticipating a ’Good’ rating in the neck impact alleviation study conducted by the independent research institute, Thatcham. In the event of a rear end impact, the passenger’s body is pushed against the seatback and this pressure is transmitted to a lumbar plate which in turn links to the head restraint, causing it to move upward and forward to equalise the forces acting on the head, neck and spine.
A further safety innovation is a rear passenger seatbelt reminder provided in the large central display consisting of a graphic of three belted occupants when seatbelts are in use, switching to a solid depiction when they are unfastened.
Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) CR-V, like other recent model introductions, owes its outstanding crash performance to Honda’s recently developed Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, a major innovation in the drive towards ever greater vehicle safety. ACE offers significantly enhanced occupant protection, improved compatibility between vehicles of different sizes and because of its improved energy absorption abilities, less damage to another vehicle.
During a frontal collision, a conventional body structure generally concentrates the loads from the impact through two pathways running longitudinally through the lower portion of the frame. The ACE structure’s front-mounted polygonal main frame is designed to prevent cabin deformation by distributing forces through multiple major load bearing pathways – and away from the passenger compartment.
Its highly efficient, energy-absorbing lower main frame performs the role of a conventional impact absorbing structure, sending energy back into the floor frame and side sills. However, the ACE frontal structure also incorporates an upper cross member located behind the front panel and, on either side, upper longitudinal side members that feed into the front bulkhead and A-pillars. Each end of the cross member curves downwards ahead of the wheelarch to meet the lower frame, as do the leading edges of the upper side members.
The resulting polygonal arrangement helps to reduce the potential for vertical or lateral misalignment between the CR-V and the other vehicle’s safety structures, so maximising the full energy absorbing potential of both vehicles. And the multiple energy absorbing paths mean that the impact force is distributed from the front of the vehicle through the side sill, floor frame and A-pillar, thus reducing cabin deformation.
The box section construction of the longitudinal elements also ensures that they crush progressively, their controlled collapse further minimising the risk of damage to the all important passenger safety cell.
Honda continues to conduct extensive research into pedestrian safety centred on its Active Safety Vehicle, the ASV3, together with sophisticated pedestrian dummies, road accident analysis and computer-assisted accident simulation. Specific items on the CR-V include:
a large unobstructed area beneath the bonnet allowing it to deform on impact
bonnet hinges, front wing mounting brackets and radiator top brackets that compress under impact
deformable front bumper beam
deformable sliding wiper pivots
Active Front Lighting System (optional on EX models) CR-V is available for the first time with Active Front Lighting System (AFS) which illuminates the direction of travel rather than the direction the car is pointing in. AFS enables the left low-beam unit to swivel left, and the right low beam to swivel right, to improve illumination while cornering, and to illuminate a road junction.
This provides the driver with advance warning of pedestrians, other traffic or obstructions. Each light can swivel by up to 20 degrees, with the amount determined by the vehicle speed and steering input.
The system uses the following components:
Steering angle sensor
Vehicle speed sensor
Reverse switch (cancels AFS when car is backing up)
Control switch (turns off AFS at driver’s discretion)
Instrument panel warning light (illuminates when AFS is turned off)
Control unit swivels the headlight low beam projector unit via a gearbox and step motor
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) – optional on EX models In addition to maintaining a set speed, as with a conventional cruise control, ACC is able to automatically regulate the distance to a vehicle travelling ahead in the same lane, thereby reducing the burden of motorway (or similar road) driving and enhancing driver comfort and safety.
It uses a millimetre-wave radar mounted inside the front grille to recognise the presence and the speed of the vehicle ahead; the analysis of the impulses from the radar and their frequency variation makes it possible to calculate the exact distance and the relative speed between the vehicles. When this distance falls below a predetermined value, the system instantly decelerates the vehicle through throttle control and, if necessary, by application of the brakes (via communication with VSA).
In instances where quicker deceleration is required, such as sudden braking by the vehicle in front, the system will alert the driver with a warning light and a buzzer to prompt the driver to apply the brakes. If the vehicle ahead changes lane or the distance increases again, then the system increases the vehicle speed to the predetermined value.
ACC operates between 20-110mph and the driver can increase the speed via the ACC button on the steering wheel in 2mph increments.
Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) – optional on EX models The Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) is a revolutionary safety technology which takes the ACC technology to the next, logical stage by predicting collision situations and reacting accordingly.
When the closing rate between the CR-V and the vehicle in front increases to a point where a collision is likely to occur, the system uses visual, and audible warnings to prompt the driver to take preventative action. If, based on the driver’s response, the system determines that the likelihood of a collision has decreased to an acceptable level, the CMBS system will disengage. If, however, the driver’s response does not sufficiently reduce the risk of a collision, the system will issue a secondary warning, consisting of audible, visual and tactile elements as well as light braking, to alert the driver to take action. If the closing rate increases so much that a collision becomes unavoidable, CMBS can initiate hard braking to reduce the vehicle’s speed, and tension the driver’s and front passenger’s seatbelts to help reduce the severity of the crash.
Stage one: When there is a risk of a collision with the vehicle ahead or if the distance between the vehicles has dropped below the pre-set level, a buzzer sounds and the message ‘BRAKE’ appears on the Multi-information display.
Stage two: If the distance between the two vehicles continues to diminish, CMBS applies light braking, and an electric motor activates the driver’s seat belt E-pretensioner, retracting the seatbelt gently two or three times, providing the driver with a tactile warning. The buzzer sounds again and the word ‘BRAKE’ appears again on the Multi-information display.
Stage three: If, after issuing the primary and secondary warnings, the system determines that a collision is unavoidable, the E-pretensioner retracts the driver’s and front passenger’s seatbelts with enough force to compensate for seatbelt slack or baggy clothing and activates the brakes forcefully to reduce the speed of impact and mitigate the effects of the collision on the CR-V and its occupants.
The CMBS system functions only when the CR-V is travelling at over 9.3mph and when the speed differential between the CR-V and the car directly in front is 9.3mph or more. It can be turned off by depressing a switch located on the left hand side of the instrument panel.