Five years ago, when autonomous vehicles first made headlines on the world’s renowned media outlets. I thought at the time was a brilliant idea. This could free us from the daily humdrum of driving to work and back which would take us an average of an hour just to get to our offices. Can you imagine what we can do in a vehicle that drives itself for an hour?!
Wishful thinking, but we’re still way far from getting that close. See, the SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) had defined five levels of autonomy: Level 0, no autonomy; Level 1 “hands on”; Level 2 “hands off”; Level 3 “eyes off”; Level 4 “mind off”; Level 5 “steering wheel optional”. The implementation of autonomous driving in mass market vehicles have just only started, while most advanced systems stands at Level 2. And to see such a feature fitted into a familiar looking brand and models, the road to autonomous driving has just only begun.
Enter the Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P 2WD and comes fitted with Sensing; Honda’s active driver assistance system that helps driver to stay on the black stuff. But before diving deeper on how the system works, let’s have a look on what’s new with the newest fifth generation CR-V.
The RW designated fifth-generation CR-V boasts a completely new exterior design, which appears much more futuristic which makes the last one paler in comparison. And the longer you stare at it, the more you begin discover the little nuances on its angular and curvaceous surface.
the CR-V comes with a pair of full-LED headlamp clusters including daytime running lamps, signal repeaters, and low- and high-beam illumination. Also, the fog lamps below are LEDs.
If you think the CR-Vs headlamps are unique, wait until you see the rear LED combination lamps. The only thing that is similar to the previous model that it’s positioned vertically now extends horizontally inwards.
What I found fascinating are the signal repeaters located within the horizontal portion of the rear lamps. Despite being pasta noodle thin, the signal is still visible even from a long distance, which adds up to the CR-Vs futuristic vibe.
The range-topping CR-V comes with height programmable power tailgate, which can be programmed to stop at a certain height, preventing contact to a low ceiling.
The biggest change however can be found inside, which the CR-V’s interior is a huge step above the outgoing model in terms of design, choice of materials and build quality, which wasn’t the brand’s strongest point until now. With the use of soft materials and various neat and tasteful styling touches, the CR-V’s interior now has a premium aura while still an affordable vehicle in this segment, packing a lot of competence under the bodyshell.
The front seats in the range topping CR-V models comes with 8-Way electrically adjustable with lumbar support and 4-way electrically adjustable passenger seat, which are also an improvement as they now provide actual lateral support and comfort – especially beneficial for long distance driving. The new steering wheel feels good to the touch and doesn’t feel overly chunky to hold and adjustments are done manually with plenty of adjustability to suit drivers of various builds.
The CR-V’s rear seats can be folded down 60:40 and comes equipped with ISOFIX child seat anchors as standard with plenty of room for three adults, with acres of head and legroom available. Also there’s an air-con vent for the rear passengers as well.
By folding the rear seats down flat, this increases the default 552-litre boot capacity up to 1,084-litres.
Entertainment comes a 7-inch full colour touchscreen. Unlike most touchscreens, the one in the CR-V is located low enough not to get in the way of the drivers’ line of sight and actually as part of the dashboard. There’s an AM/FM tuner, 3.5mm audio auxiliary input jack, CD & MP3 player and Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio streaming is available.
For a system in a so-called regular SUV, I’m impressed. Instruments and voices are distinctly reproduced, and if you’re a much younger person, you’ll probably enjoy the robust bass response that can be enjoyed at high volumes (although its not recommended to do so while driving). The system is not as accurate of faithful to sound quality as some premium-branded systems, but its good enough and it definitely delivers.
Under the hood, you will find a compact yet powerful L15B7 VTC 1.5-litre single scroll turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 190 hp at 5,500 rpm and 243 Nm of torque from 2,000 rpm to 5,000 rpm. This figure is almost the same as to what the Honda Integra Type R (DC2) did in 1995.
The forced fed four-cylinder engine is attached to a CVT transmission, which in this specification as tested only drives the front wheels. In short, the CRV 1.5 TC-P achieves a low fuel consumption figure of 5.5 L/100 km (18.0 Km/l) as tested on highways.
The interesting bit most would want to know how did Honda’s Sensing perform in the real world. It’s safe to say that it does what it is intended to without being overly complicated to operate, but still requires full attention and responsibility from the driver. That said, Honda’s Sensing is very much a Level 1 autonomous driver assistance system.
Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) helps reduce driver fatigue on long journeys, especially on highways and can also improve fuel efficiency as a constant speed is maintained (although setting a very high speed would obviously result in high fuel consumption).
Low-Speed Follow (LSF) makes ACC even better by adjusting speeds within 0 to 30 km/h and Honda Sensing’s Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) works between 30k/h and 180km/h, but can also operate right down to a standstill and resume when the vehicle ahead starts moving again in conjunction with LSF. When the car gets too close to the car in front, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) comes in as it alerts the driver of a dangerous situation with regards to the closing distance on the vehicle directly ahead.
Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) is on watch all the time by using the radar and camera for higher accuracy. CMBS initially warns the driver with audio and visual signals on the instrument panel, and when the gap starts to get dangerous, the system automatically applies gentle brake pressure to give a sensory warning to the driver. If the driver still does not brake, the system automatically brakes hard.
Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) prevents the vehicle from unintentionally moving into another lane and possible colliding with other vehicles. LKAS will maintain the vehicle’s position between the left and right lines of the lane by gently making steering changes.
Lane Departure Warning (LDW) makes use of the camera, which ‘reads’ the lines on the road. By constantly monitoring the position of the lines, the computer can determine if the vehicle is weaving to one side and likely to cross into another lane. Whenever the computer determines that the vehicle’s path is going to leave the lane, the driver will be alerted. LDW works between 72 km/h and 180 km/h on straight roads and slightly curved roads. That said, the system stops working when the bend becomes sharper and when the road markings are undistinguishable by the camera.
Honda’s researchers took LDW further with the addition of Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), which is an advanced capability. Honda Sensing’s RDM will take the necessary action while alerting the driver with audio alerts as well as vibrations in the steering wheel. If the driver has still not made any steering corrections, RDM will then make steering corrections to bring the vehicle back into the lane on the road. At the same time, some braking will also be applied to slow the vehicle down and prevent it from leaving the road completely.
LDW, RDM and LKAS could all be experienced in one run between two solid white lines to simulate a lane. The three systems are basically integrated and use the same camera to capture images of the road lines ahead. As the car wanders, warnings come on and some vibration comes through the steering wheel. When the wheels start to reach the edge, the steering wheel can be seen turning slightly and to redirect it back into the lane.
The CR-V is surprisingly pleasant to drive around; it’s got a low Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH) that is comparable to a car that cost twice as much, and driving over bumps and potholes feels more like driving over a sponge cake. Driver and passengers will definitely have a pleasant ride in it thanks to its comfortable ride over bumps and undulations without experiencing any form of harshness.
With that said, it may sound that the engineers would have sacrificed driving pleasure and dynamics, and what is amazing is that, the car seems to be able to do both as this has proved that the Honda engineers have kept to their philosophy of “Man maximum, machine minimum” in the CR-V.
The CR-V drives agile and responds exceptionally well to direction changes. Even in hard cornering, the Honda SUV feels surefooted when pushed to its limits. Although the electric power assisted steering wheel felt a bit light, it does transfer the drivers input well to its front wheels.
The range-topping CR-V caters more to drivers who want to be part of the driving experience. Riding on 18-inch wheels wrapped in Toyo Proxes R45 tyres offering strong grip levels yet offers some playfulness. That said, the CR-V offers compliance and traction the moment you turn into the corner near the limit, but soon finds grip and traction through the middle of the bend even in rough conditions.
To sum it up, the Honda CR-V is a capable all-rounder that ticks all of the right boxes. It’s practical and comfortable to drive and ride in the city and on the open road. The 1.5-litre engine does more for less in providing good amounts of power to lug seven people around in comfort.
It doesn’t intimidate young drivers as it is easy to drive and the tall seating position offers clean line of sight of what’s coming and around. It too comes with Honda’s strong aftersales support and graceful depreciation in later years is a huge plus. Like all Honda models, the CR-V comes with 5-years warranty with unlimited mileage (whichever comes first).
+ High build quality
+ Simple yet sophisticated design
+ Very practical
+ Driving comfort
+ Usable performance
+ Frugal fuel economy
+ Easy and unintimidating driving experience
Honda CR-V 1.5 TC-P 2WD
Price Msia: RM167,700 (W/O insurance)
Engine: 1,488cc turbocharged four-cylinder
Fuel Economy: 5.5 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: Continuous Variable Transmission