Honda CR-V: Expensive, but worth every centavo

There was an overwhelming consensus among people – experts or otherwise – when Honda Cars Philippines Inc. (HCPI) announced the pricing of the CR-V last year: It’s quite expensive.

But there’s a difference between looking at the price tags and actually experiencing the vehicle firsthand. We’ve had a chance to do the latter – on a long road trip, nonetheless – to see what has changed in the new-generation model and to answer the burning question from prospective buyers and naysayers – is it worth the money?

Before delving deep, you should know that the Honda CR-V now starts at P2,100,000 for the V Turbo CVT, which already offers seven seats. If the previous generation model is any indication, you’d might think that the CR-V’s third was negligible but you should know that the new-generation model has grown in size – it’s almost as long as midsize SUVs such as the Mitsubishi Montero Sport.

While personally, the increase in size is not much of a selling point, those who are looking to buy one will appreciate this growth especially considering the price tag.

Plus, you’ll have to appreciate the CR-V’s revamped design. The bigger grille and boxy shape exude robustness – things you’ll expect from an SUV and not from a crossover. Plus, the entry-level V Turbo CVT is already loaded in terms of features, including automatic LED lighting front and back. Truth be told, the base CR-V doesn’t feel like a base model anymore based on exterior looks alone.

The story’s the same with the cabin. As an entry-level unit, the CR-V V Turbo CVT already comes with full leather upholstery and high-quality materials all over the cabin. It even feels more upmarket than top-spec midsize SUVs in the market, and you’ll instantly get that feeling even at just an initial seating. In fact, I personally prefer the cabin of the base model than the top-spec RS since it doesn’t have the faux-wood accents. 

For those particular with tech, you’d be glad to know that the CR-V already has a 10.2-inch full digital instrument cluster and a 9-inch infotainment that comes with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That’s paired with wireless charging, as well, plus tri-zone climate control that lets rear passengers choose the temperature independent from what’s in the front.

And then, there’s the Honda Sensing, which is now standard across the range. That means even if you choose to get the base model, you’ll already get adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, and everything you’ll expect from the level 2 autonomous driving feature.

Those were only the few notables, but in a nutshell, Honda has already thrown everything it can in the entry-level model, which warrants its relatively higher price tag.

The base model CR-V is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter gasoline engine that makes 188 horsepower and 240 Newton-meters of torque. These figures are sent to the front wheels (for the base model), via a CVT. If you want AWD, you have to move higher in the range for an additional premium.

With the former configuration, the CR-V isn’t sporty and that’s okay. It’s a cruiser that will get you from point A to B safely and as comfortable as possible. Don’t expect instant pulls from the crossover; those looking for sporty performance can turn their attention to the RS e:HEV, which warrants a way higher price tag of P2,590,000.

Handling wise, the CR-V handles way better than before, employing a predictable drive whether on the highway or while tackling twisties. The top-spec hybrid felt expectedly heavier, though the instantaneous torque from the electric motors offset that weight penalty in a way that will put a smile on your face.

Yes, the new-generation Honda CR-V is undeniably much more expensive than before, but that price increase came with a move to target the more affluent and discerning buyers rather than offering a basic crossover without nothing to offer. That’s a good move – at least that’s this author thinks – because now that price tag is worth every centavo.

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