3rd Gen Honda CR-V by November

Honda CR-V small image

Honda is to officially debut the 2007 Honda CR-V at the Paris International Motor Show. Ahead of this months event, Honda has released specifications and photos of the 3rd incarnation of their popular SUV.

The CR-V has been struggling badly in Thailand of late. This is not because it’s a bad vehicle by any means, but it’s simply down to Toyota and the Fortuner. It has blown away everything else in the SUV market. The Fortuner is a big piece of metal for the money, with a big engine under it’s big hood. And the money is significantly less than Honda’s asking price for the CR-V.

A base model Fortuner is just over THB 1 million whereas the bottom of the line CR-V is THB1.23 million. For this extra 250k you get less power, less seats, less space, and less road presence. No wonder the CR-V has been a hard sell for Honda Sales executives.

My prediction is that their jobs are not going to get much easier after the November launch of the all-new 2007 CR-V. Even if the new CR-V was a styling triumph, and was priced to match the Fortuner (neither of which are true) I believe it would still find it hard to compete with the Forutner in Thailand.


Honda CR-V back left

The CR-V have been dramatically overhauled inside and out. First impressions of the exterior are mixed, however most observers tend towards the “it’s ugly” camp. Of course this is a subjective issue, and there is nothing new about new car designs being hated by some and loved by others. But there is just something about this CR-V that doesn’t seem quite right.

Now, SUVs are awkward looking beasts to start with, which is in a way ironic given that SUV owners are generally extremely image conscious individuals. However, some designers have managed to make SUV that look desirable. Volvo XC90, and BMW X5 are two examples that spring to mind. At first glance the Honda CR-V does not look likely to fall into that category. In fact it’s probably fairer to compare it to Ssangyong’s efforts! Ssangyong seem to cater to a niche of people who wish to own a car that’s looks could be improved by crashing it.

At least Honda are making an effort to shake off the boring image that they’ve built up over the last decade. Their recent efforts have been far from boring. The latest Civic hatchback (not on sale in Thailand) is a case in point. It’s futuristic styling has won Honda a lot of fans. The CR-V is unlikely to spark as much enthusiastic response, but time will tell. Sometimes it takes a while to get used to a radical style.

The portions look pretty good, but perhaps there is a case to say it has been over designed, resulting in too many details. Sometimes less-is-more, and this is true of car design.

The track is wider by about 3 cm, and the center of gravity has been lowered by 35mm. This will translate into better ride and handling on the road, but the lower center of gravity also leads to a reduction in ground clearance by about 20mm when compared to the old model. This is probably not of any negative consequence to most prospective buyers... this is not an off-roader.

Honda CR-V front left


Honda CR-V interior

If you give the looks of the 2007 CR-V a chance and find yourself sitting inside one things do take a turn for the better. The interior design is clean, and functional. I believe it is a marked improvement on the outgoing model. And being a Honda it is filled with nice details, lots of cup holders and stowage spaces. The floor is flat and a dash-mounted gear stick, and a neat “jet fighter” style brake leaver mean sliding across to the passenger side should be painless. (This might be useful in tight parking situations for example.)

The boot is now opens vertically, not that there was anything wrong with the horizontal system employed in the outgoing model, but this more conventional approach is partially down to the decision to put the spare wheel under the floor rather than attaching it to the back to the car. I believe this to be a positive move.


The engine line-up will see a new 2.0 engine, derived from the 1.8 SOHC i-VTEC found in the Civic. It offers 150PS and promises good economy thanks in part to the drive-by-wire throttle. Honda have a highly acclaimed 2.2 liter i-CTDi (turbo diesel) engine in their arsenal but it’s very unlikely that this unit will find its way into the Thai CR-V, pity. Those looking for a bit more power will instead look to the 2.4 liter petrol unit taken from the Accord.

The “Real Time 4WD” system detects front wheel slip and transfers power to the rear wheels accordingly. This system is updated and can transfer up to 20% more torque than the outgoing model.

It is also likely that Honda Thailand will offer a 2WD version of the CR-V, possibly only on the 2.0 liter model. This will appeal to those seeking better fuel efficiency, and should allow Honda to offer a lower cost CR-V, possibly cheaper than the THB1.23 million asking price for the current base model albeit without 4WD. Top model will likely cost in excess of THB1.5 million.

Who will buy it?

Ford, Mazda, and Nissan are all soon to be replacing their end-of-the-line SUV models, and the Toyota Fortuner is still selling strongly. Honda will continue to struggle in this segment.

Even Honda fans might have reason to avoid the CR-V, perhaps in favour of the future Stream, which is arguably a better buy. Offering 7 seats, same engines, better looks and coming in at around the same price.

But I think this CR-V is likely to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it cars. I still haven’t really decided what I think of it.