Review: 2021 Honda CR-V 1.6 diesel SX AWD

Published January 15, 2021, 12:18 PM

by Inigo Roces

Still a top choice

It’s not easy choosing an SUV these days, what with the dizzying number of choices.  There are so many segments and sizes to choose from, with many models beginning to blur the lines in between.

No doubt, besides the usual truck-based seven-seater SUVs, another recommendation that will frequently pop up is the Honda CR-V.

Having been around for nearly three decades, the CR-V has managed to change with the times, and in spite of all the competition, continues to be a top choice. It shouldn’t come as a surprise as this 2021 model takes the best features of many SUVs —like the diesel engine and seven-seats of a truck-based SUV and the tech and luxury features of large crossovers — to create a truly tempting package.

Updated for 2021

Launched late last year, this new CR-V features aesthetic upgrades and subtle improvements to keep it in consumers’ minds. The 2021 CR-V features a new bumper with more black cladding, a bolder-looking grille and reshaped fog light housings. Its new 18-inch wheels are immediately noticeable from the side. Behind, tinted LED taillights and sequential turn signals are among the upgrades.

Unlike most of its competitors, the CR-V takes quite a lot of inspiration from luxury sedans. This top-of-the-line variant features a very high tech but not so daunting dashboard. Wood trim with a matte finish accents the interior, looking and feeling far better than the usual appliques with too much clearcoat.

Luxury and tech

There’s quite a number of buttons and LCD screens, though Honda thankfully separates and segments them in ways that make them easy to understand. It’s quite intuitive to figure out which part shows and controls trip info, entertainment, climate control, and comfort features. Honda has even added a wireless charger (which can be turned off) at the base of the center console.

Further in the back are very comfortable seats for second row passengers that can recline to some degree. These passengers get their own aircon vents and charging ports. Above the two rows is a panoramic moonroof to lighten up the cabin on sunny days.

Behind are the third row seats that can fold flat to form a cargo area. The space here is quite tight and it’s best to leave these seats for children rather than adults.

Efficient power

Propelling the vehicle is a 1.6-liter turbo diesel engine that produces 120 PS and 300 Nm torque. It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels.

Making use of this power is done with this car’s most unique feature: its push-button gear selectors and handbrake, rather than a stickshift and lever. They may be confusing to use at first, but it makes for safer driving, and become natural pretty quickly.

Like all Hondas, it comes with an Econ mode to temper fuel consumption, but that also results in some rather sluggish response when in faster traffic. Normal mode proved to be quite fine for most uses. Another boon is the excellent fuel economy that averages between 12-14 km/L.

Making the drive easier

Naturally, this car comes with a number of high-tech driver aids designed to make it even easier to drive, whether on tight city streets or more free-flowing highways.

The suite, called Sensing, uses a number of cameras and sensors to scan all around the vehicle for other cars and obstacles. Suffice to say, it discourages bad habits like abruptly changing lanes, tailgating, and forgeting to check your blind spots.

I find these features are best enjoyed on long road trips by the designated driver. Adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, the blind spot camera, and auto-hold handbrake take much of the stress out of the trip, letting you arrive at your destination possibly more relaxed than when you left.

An easy choice

The CR-V has always been an easy choice despite its many competitors. What’s impressive is how it still continues to be appealing to this day. In spite of the popularity of larger SUVs like the Toyota Fortuner and Ford Everest, it’s quite easy to still choose the CR-V thanks to options like the diesel engine and seven-seater version. Where it stands out are the luxury touches like the innovative driving aids, the cabin that feels more like an Accord than an SUV, and the sheer comfort and quiet of its cabin. The CR-V can easily fill the roles of family car, luxury sedan, and efficient commuter with little difficulty.