IT’s a household name, loved by families for more than 20 years, for its space, cost and the ease with which it can be driven. The 2021 Honda CR-V VTi-X has a fresh new look, with an updated design, and more features.
The latest edition of the CR-V sees some minor body nips and tucks to keep it modern and fresh, sporting new chrome accents and a redesigned black grille, along with splashes of black in the front and rear bumpers.
Honda has also thrown in tinted LED taillights and fresh alloy wheels for the exterior. Inside, it feels a little bland. There’s premium quality soft touch materials throughout and the build feels solid. But it’s all a little aged, despite being refreshed.
The Honda SUV is fitted with a new 7.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay (and dated graphics), and there’s some new brushed chrome trim, giving the interior a fresh functional look.
While the touchscreen could be bigger and situated on a different angle, it is a super simple layout to operate. One thing that doesn’t need to get any bigger and could be smaller, is the gear shifter. It’s mounted high, for improved storage, but it feels massive.
That aside, the front row offers huge amounts space, which does make it feel like a larger SUV than it is. There are huge cupholders, USB inputs and lots of storage bins for you to stick your phone and other knickknacks in.
The steering wheel controls are easy to identify, and the digital speedo has clear graphics and the ability to adjust the layout (it’s a wee bit Tron-like). The interior is finished in a nice dark cloth fabric, with the front and rear seats firm yet comfortable.
There is just the right amount of under thigh and side bolstering. If you want leather you’ll have to pay more and step up to the higher variants. In the rear, you will find a generous amount of space, with loads of head and legroom.
It feels spacious and inviting, and the second row also features map pockets, rear air vents, two USB ports and decent door storage. Our tester was fitted with a powered tailgate, which does make it easier to access the boot.
The cargo area is plentiful too, with 522-litres with the rear seats up, and 1,717-litres with everything down. Not bad considering it also carries a full size spare wheel. There’s also an option for seven seats, but that third row is kid friendly at best.
Honda also hasn’t forgotten the all important safety features, and this latest CR-V is jam packed with them. All models come standard with dual zone climate control, auto dipping (when reversing) and folding side mirrors, and a rear-view camera.
Tyre pressure monitoring and LED taillamps are standard too. The VTi-X however scores some extra goodies, like forward collision emergency braking, radar cruise control, and lane departure warning and active assist lane keeping aid.
It also grabs keyless proximity entry with push button start, a side view lane changing camera, front and rear parking sensors, satellite navigation, 18-inch alloys and auto dipping high beam.
Under the bonnet is a small but ferocious four cylinder 1.5-litre turbo engine that’s also found in the Civic, and produces an impressive 140kW and 240Nm. Honda claims an average of 7.0-litres/100km, but it hovers around the 9.5-litres/100km in reality.
Bolted to this engine is a CVT gearbox that sends power the the front wheels. Under acceleration the engine and gearbox combo can sound a little harsh and raspy, but if you ignore the sound, the CR-V certainly gets a wriggle on.
On the road, no matter what we threw at it, the 2021 Honda CR-V VTi-X stayed poised. It didn’t feel top heavy nor did it throw it’s body weight around, instead remaining planted to the road. It’s much more fun to drive than you’d think.
The steering does feel a little on the dull side of things, but while the latest CR-V might have a few flaws, it’s as solid and reliable as ever, and shouldn’t be discounted. It will continue to be loved purely for its familiarity, pricing and ease of use.
It’s a reliable option, but we do feel Honda has simply done enough in the latest update to keep the CR-V competitive. Hopefully the next generation features a larger infotainment system, and technology such as wireless phone charging.
The 2021 Honda CR-V VTi-X is priced from $41,200 (drive away), and is available in seven exterior colours, including Ignite Red, Platinum White, Lunar Silver, Modern Steel, Cosmic Blue, Crystal Black and Brilliant Sporty Blue.
Our test vehicle was provided by Honda Australia. To find out more about the 2021 Honda CR-V VTi-X, contact your local Honda dealer.