DRIVEN: 2011 HONDA CRV

If you have ever driven on Indian roads, then you know the jittery and jiggly feeling that comes from the experience. And if your vehicle has a low ground clearance, you are literally at a crawl with all the potholes and bumps in the road. Enter the Honda CRV. With its raised height and 2.4L i-VTEC engine pumping out about 160 HP and 218 Nm torque coupled with the Realtime 4WD, you can really make mince meat out of most roads you would normally come across. Let us see how the CRV fared on these roads.
Plus: The ride height coupled with the beefy tires comes in very handy on the roads here. You won’t have to worry about scraping the undertray anymore! The suspension is also very forgiving on bumps and also inspires confidence when taking bends at speed. Visibility is simply superb from the inside. You get these huge rear view mirrors that reduce the blind spot to a minimum. As with all Hondas, the engine is also glorious when you decide to punch it. With the 4WD, once you pass the VTEC crossover, it feels like you are being pulled by a freight train. Compared to other vehicles available elsewhere, it isn’t too big but it does feel big when you drive it in India. But the good thing is that it is very easy to drive and doesn’t feel like a big vehicle. Clutch engagement was very smooth (we tested the 6 speed manual transmission) and shifting gears was short and crisp. The ability to fold down the rear seats is a plus especially if you carry around a lot of luggage.
Minus: Owing to its size, one would expect separate AC vents for passengers in the back, but there aren’t any. We can also see leg room getting a little tight in the back if you have a couple of tall people in the front. We also wish you could turn off the 4WD since you don’t really need it all the time especially while driving around the city. This would also aid the mileage which is a paltry 11 kilometers per liter. This is kind of surprising considering how fuel efficient most Hondas are. The sound system also left a lot to be desired and we thought the system that came in the Honda Civic 1.8S sounded a lot better (we’ll tackle that in a separate review).
Overall: As a utilitarian vehicle, the CRV hits all the points well. Good interior space, comfortable seating, a good engine, great ground clearance, beefy tires, easy to drive, power everything (seats, steering, windows etc.). But we feel Honda should have done better with the mileage especially considering the steep price it is sold at in India (primarily due to excise duty). And we don’t really see too many people that purchase the CRV taking it truly off-road. The option to turn off the 4WD would have also been a good addition. In the end, it is a good vehicle, but we won’t be rushing to the dealer to pick it up right away.
The Honda CRV is currently on sale in India for Rs. 27,70,000 (~$55,400) to Rs. 30,35,000 (~$60,700). If you are interested in picking one up, Honda is offering a discount of Rs. 3,50,000 ($7,000) if you purchase a CRV by the end of April 2012. Now that is some food for thought!

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