Feeling the drive

“It’s all about the feel,” I said to the dealer after returning the quite superb Honda CR-V AWD Sport Sensing Turbo back to the dealership.

“You can have all the features that are current, but the thing that really matters is how they work together. It’s about how the ride feels when you’re at the wheel and how the aftertaste lingers when you’ve parked it for the night.”

The aftertaste of any great ride is when you’ve parked it in the garage (or handed the review car back to the dealer), you want to go and drive it again.

And so it was with the Honda CR-V AWD Sport Sensing Turbo. Let’s do this – one more time around the block please.

The drive around familiar Tauranga streets was among the most enjoyable yet, (despite the increasing congestion) due to the rightness of the way the SUV felt in the hand, in the cabin and on the road.

It’s a great looking SUV ride too, with sleek lines, leather interior and new design 18-inch wheels that ooze class and pizzazz. And that blue finish is to lust after – it’s beautifully seductive to the eye.

All that ‘rightness’ in design and engineering translates into a relaxing drive that’s good for you and for other drivers on the road. If you’re relaxed and focused, you’re safer on our busy roads.

From the superb elevated positioning of the shifter lever (part-way up the front console), allowing for more storage space on the console floor, to the beautifully proportioned and designed front cabin layout, to the lack of intrusive road noise, to the easy sunroof mechanism bringing extra light and the ’nimbleness’ of the Honda’s on road character, it was just a delight to drive.

This one was going to be hard to give back.

Under the hood

Part of the reason for the great feel of the Honda CR-V Sport Sensing Turbo is it feels deceptively light and nimble.

There’s no need for massive amounts of power under the hood, but there is still plenty to ensure the ride performs in its round-town duties with horsepower to spare. It’s a zippy SUV and the turbo never gives a hint of lag.

The main reason for the swift and lively ride is the 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder VTEC Turbo engine. The Honda skips along with power rated at 140kw@5500rpm and torque 240 Nm/rpm @2000-5000. Those are healthy specs given the engine size and it is mirrored with its on-road performance.

I had to check later – was this really only a 1.5L? Yes it is. Other drivers will find it gives enough turbo pep to pull, but will also have fuel economy to savour. It’s a beautifully-weighted engineering balance that gives enough power to move, but enough economy to not worry when putting the foot down to pass.

The Honda CR-V AWD Sport Sensing Turbo is a big ride, but it’s never self-imposing to the extent that some of the other larger SUVs are. There is no hint of excessive body roll and given the stable (near silent) ride it adds to the feel of driving finesse and fun.

This is a typical crossover SUV ride where the feel is more car-like in character than heavy hauler type like the big Isuzu MU-X.

Extra sensory perception

So what does ‘sport sensing’ mean?

It’s a Honda phrase that brands all the car trickery under one name and one aim: keeping drivers safe.

Honda Sensing is made up of multiple different systems that work together to help drivers stay out of trouble including; Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Auto High Beam Support.

All of Honda’s ‘senses’ work together to alert drivers to hazards and constantly operate to communicate to the driver through alarms and on-screen alerts that will help keep them on the ‘straight and narrow’.

In practice, this meant something as simple as being caught in traffic on Hewletts Road became just a bit safer as we crawled along with the on-screen alert blinking that the car in front was just a bit too close for comfort.

Also appreciated in a real world drive down the Bay’s familiar highway north to Waihi Beach was the LCD screen immediately coming to life to show what was behind and to the left of the car as I took my time to make a lane change.

Couple in the big side mirrors and drivers will feel safe and in touch with everything around them. It’s not a gimmick. All added together, the rightness of the drive could also be put down to the extra sense of safety Honda’s ‘sensing’ technology was creating. It’s a great tool to keep drivers connected with the roads, with other drivers and the conditions that are around them.

Enjoying the safety net

Alongside the tools to keep drivers safe are the usual array of convenient features for music with both Android Auto and Apple connectivity, navigation with Garmin and one of the easiest screen interfaces available. And it is equipped with a rotary volume knob, giving easy control, which for this driver is a must have!

The electric sunroof opened up the cabin space and added to the sense of ease with fresh air coming into the cabin from ‘on high’. The easy-reach centre roof line controls are simple and respond quickly to the touch.

Another factor that will be appreciated by families is the ample rear leg room.

Get the feeling?

The five-seater Honda CR-V AWD Sport Sensing Turbo is among the highlight drives of the year.

It’s a complete package from the exterior lines and interior finesse, to the finely balanced engine mechanics and transmission.

It just feels right and that can be attributed to refinement of design from Honda CR-V generation to generation and putting priorities in line with the overall theme of safety, comfort and fun.

Drive it and feel good about driving and feel safe – and have fun. It’s that kind of ride.

Specs

Engine: 1.5L 4-cylinder VTEC Turbo
Power: 140kw@5500rpm
Torque: 240 Nm/rpm @2000-5000
Transmission: Auto CVT – 7-speed (with paddle shifters)
Price: $47,900


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