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LA show: Honda SUV hopes rest on new CR-V

Debuted: Honda Motors US executive vice president of sales John Mendel speaking at the CR-V reveal during the LA Auto Show.

Honda unveils all-new CR-V compact SUV in US ahead of Aussie rollout later in 2012

Honda logo17 Nov 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

HONDA has released full details of its crucial new fourth-generation CR-V compact SUV with its unveiling at the Los Angeles auto show this week ahead of a North American showroom debut in December and an Australian launch in 2012.

As expected, the striking looks previewed on the CR-V concept shown earlier this year have transferred into production, while Honda also claims to have built more functionality, more car-like interior comfort, a smoother and quieter ride, and better fuel efficiency into the vehicle.

Mechanically, the CR-V picks up an upgraded version of the current 2.4-litre 16-valve i-VTEC four-cylinder petrol engine and a new ‘Real Time All-Wheel-Drive with Intelligent Control System’.

The latter is a lightweight, electronically controlled system that replaces the current hydraulically activated ‘dual-pump’ Real Time 4WD system and is claimed to offer “a faster, more intuitive initial response when a loss of traction is detected”.

As GoAuto has reported, the new generation also brings with it a 2WD (front-drive) driveline for the first time, which will hand Honda Australia the means to broaden the range and should lower the entry level below the current $28,090 baseline.

Local specifications are still to be released, with Honda Australia only confirming this week that the new CR-V is expected to be launched in the second half of next year.

This is a vital model for the Japanese brand, which has experienced a significant 25.2 per cent sales slump in Australia so far this year, with all models bar none in arrears.

15 center imageThe CR-V has fallen 18.4 per cent YTD with fewer than 5000 sales to hold just a 4.9 per cent share of the compact SUV segment.

Contrast this with just four years ago, when in 2007 Honda sold more than 12,500 CR-Vs to be second only to the Toyota RAV4 and with 14 per cent of the segment.

The ‘K24Z7’ 2.4-litre engine in the North American 2012 CR-V produces 138kW of power at 7000rpm and 221Nm of torque at 4400rpm, achieving markedly improved economy with the standard five-speed automatic transmission used across the range.

The current Australian-spec engine, which combines with both manual and automatic transmissions, delivers 125kW at 5800rpm and 218Nm at 4200rpm.

Aided by slightly smaller overall dimensions and a circa-10kg weight reduction (1499kg FWD/1554kg AWD in the base LX), the redesigned CR-V returns US EPA combined-cycle average consumption figures of 25mpg for the entry AWD variant – equivalent to 9.4L/100km – and 26mpg (9.05L/100km) for the front-driver.

The new model also introduces an ‘Eco Assist’ indicator informing the driver of the degree of efficiency in his/her driving style via green-coloured visual cues surrounding the speedometer, while a selectable ‘Econ’ mode is designed to further maximise fuel economy.

US specifications show the redesigned CR-V measures 4529mm in overall length, 1819mm in width and 1653mm in height for the AWD. The FWD version is 10mm lower.

The wheelbase is 2619mm and track width 1562mm front and rear on the base model (1565mm for higher-series models).

These dimensions make the new model a fraction shorter and lower than the current generation, although interior measurements show no real penalty in terms of front and rear headroom, legroom and shoulder room.

Cargo volume is listed at 1.05 cubic metres with the rear seats in place, increasing to 2.0 cubic metres with the new ‘Easy Fold-Down’ 60/40-split rear seat in action.

The new split-fold arrangement does not create a completely flat floor, but Honda says each seat portion now folds neatly into the front of the cargo area using convenient release levers located near the tailgate or a pull-strap positioned on the side of each seat.

The cargo floor is also now lower for easier loading/unloading, while a space-saving temporary spare wheel is located underneath the floor.

The CR-V continues with a MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension with stabiliser bars front and rear, while the steering is now an electric ‘motion-adaptive’ power-assisted system – a feature that will also appear on the new-generation Civic due for release in 2012.

A hill-start assist feature that prevents the vehicle from rolling backwards has also been added.

Honda claims significant reductions in weight were achieved with lighter chassis components, while the sleeker design and other aerodynamic measures (such as underbody covers and a rear spoiler) have brought an 18 per cent improvement in drag.

Increases in torsional and bending rigidity – nine and seven per cent respectively – were also achieved, the body is said to be a good deal stronger and additional noise insulation contributes to “significant reductions” in noise, vibration and harshness.

Weight distribution is 58:42 per cent front/rear for the AWD model, with the 2WD slightly more front-biased at 59:41.

Safety features across the US range include a multi-angle rear-view camera (visible on a five-inch multi-information display), six airbags (dual-stage front, front/rear curtain with rollover sensor, and front-side airbags with a passenger occupant detector), electronic stability control, tyre-pressure monitoring system and four-channel ABS brakes with EBD and brake assist.

The front end was also engineered to improve pedestrian safety, with measures including a deformable bonnet, energy-absorbing windscreen base, extra clearance between bonnet and engine hard-points, and deformable bonnet hinges and windscreen wiper pivots.

The new ‘intelligent Multi-Information Display’ (i-MID) used with rear-view camera also serves as the audio system display and includes, on US versions, an SMS text messaging function and internet radio compatibility. It also shows fuel economy, Bluetooth status, a compass and other information.

The US model range comprises base LX, mid-series EX and flagship EX-L grades, with EX adding equipment such as an upgraded six-speaker audio system, power moonroof and 17-inch alloy wheels. The EX-L brings leather trim, a 10-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate-control air-conditioning and a 328-Watt seven-speaker audio system.

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