Honda CR-V Erupts as Best Mid-Range SUV in Australia

Improved tech in new hybrid powertrain

Tue 28 Nov 23


Growing tensions between China and Taiwan seemed far, far away when we parked outside the English Country Garden Café nestled in a subtropical rainforest on the Springbrook Plateau 2000 m above the Gold Coast, part of a volcano that erupted 23 million years ago.

China – which is to say the People’s Republic of China – considers Taiwan a breakaway province. The Taiwanese consider their self-ruled island to be a separate nation.

But China’s threat to annex their birthplace was “not on the menu” for charming Taiwanese couple Catalina and San who set up their ‘Shangri-La’ 30 years ago among magnificent rose beds and native flowers.

After a feast of steamed honey dumplings, crab Rangoon and shrimp toast, San took us for a stroll in the gardens.

“So, I see you have a Honda CR-V, yes?” San’s interest was compounded by the fact that his cousin works in Honda’s Pingtung factory in southern Taiwan, one of the South Korean car maker’s biggest Asian production plants and the launching pad this year for the sixth generation VTi-S.

The new compact crossover SUV arrives with improved style, space, technology, and a new hybrid powertrain, an immediate threat to the best models in the top-selling mid-size SUV class.

Still the brand’s top-selling model in Australia, Honda has sold a quarter of a million units here.

The brand’s flagship SUV is also the first CR-V to offer a hybrid in Australia.

Honda CR-VTi-S… threatening the best models in the top-selling mid-size SUV class in Australia.
Honda CR-VTi-S… threatening the best models in the top-selling mid-size SUV class in Australia.

Most in the range are powered by a 1.5-litre turbo-petrol engine, while the new hybrid powertrain on the flagship CR-V Vti-L features a 2-litre petrol-electric hybrid system – a four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine teamed with two electric motors. This generates 140 kW and 240 Nm, the drive sent to the front wheels by way of a continuously-variable transmission, with on-demand all-wheel drive available for the VTi L and VTi LX.

Set up in Sport, the CR-V has a very pleasant, augmented engine sound and CVT shift pattern, much in line with a more sporting drivetrain.

There’s a choice of front or all-wheel drive and five or seven-seat configurations, depending on the variant. And while prices have risen across the board, the new CR-V is competitive in this top-selling market segment, ranging from $44,500 to $59,900 drive-away. 

Spending $2300 more for the VTi X7 adds third-row seating (hence the ‘7’ in the name. It also includes additional safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

This additional safety tech is standard on the VTi L which also includes larger 18-in. wheels, rear privacy glass, roof rails, leather-appointed seats, rain-sensing wipers and heated front seats.

Also standard is keyless entry and push-button start, body-coloured door handles, black gloss grille, power-folding wing mirrors, 19-in. black alloy wheels, chrome exhaust tips, front and rear LEDs and daytime running lights, an electric park brake, dual-zone climate control, eight-way power-adjust heated front seats with two-position memory and a 12-speaker Bose premium sound system.

Unique to the range-topper is a leather-appointed trim for the seats, steering wheel and gear shift, with red stitching accents, adaptive driving beam, LED active cornering lights and Sport mode.

Hill descent control and hill start assist is standard across the range.

The entire 2023 Honda CR-V range features the latest ‘Honda Sensing’ active safety suite including forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane departure and lane keep assist, traffic jam assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, low-speed braking control, traffic sign recognition and high beam support.

Among the 11 airbags is one fitted between the driver and front passenger, along with knee airbags and side airbags up front, while second-row occupants also get side airbags.

Honda claims the non-hybrid variants consume between 7 and 7.2L/100 km of regular unleaded fuel on a city-highway combined cycle, with the hybrid said to average 5.0L/100 km. 

With these numbers Honda remains one of the more affordable medium SUVs when it comes to fuel costs, especially as it only requires 91-octane regular unleaded petrol.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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