words by KON

As if more proof is needed, you need look no further than the Honda CR-V to‍‍‍ confirm that all-wheel drive and SUVs can indeed be mutually exclusive terms.

The previous-gen CR-V was launched in Malaysia powering all corners as standard, but just four years on, the tide has shifted so dramatically that Honda now only bothers to offer one AWD variant out of four in total for the present model’s line-up.

The sales number certainly seems to vindicate that decision – the bulk of CR-V buyers have overwhelmingly opted for the highest-spec front-wheel drive model, leaving the AWD variant here a minority choice.


Curiously, Honda Malaysia positions the CR-V AWD as the range’s second-tier model. The flagship variant powers only its front wheels,‍‍‍ but boasts a superior level of equipment that exclusively includes Honda Sensing, Honda LaneWatch, and a powered tailgate.

Choosing your preferred CR-V then quickly boils down to a simple question – do you want the added traction of AWD, or do you want the added safety of Honda Sensing and Honda LaneWatch? For many buyers, the decision has appeared exceedingly easy in favour of the latter.

Whichever way you choose, however, be assured of generous equipment right from the base 2.0 petrol model featuring the predecessor’s carryover engine. Remaining three variants above are powered by the newer 1.5 VTEC Turbo unit making 193PS and 240Nm.


The CR-V has never been quite a looker. The new one improves on that front, but it still isn’t the most handsome-looking choice in its segment. Then again, the CR-V has never traded on looks.

Secret to Honda’s enduring success in this segment is relentlessly good packaging of its interior. You won’t find much in the way of plush materials like the Mazda CX-5, or outlandishly futuristic design like the Peugeot 3008; what you would find, however, is space, and seemingly endless amounts of it.

Every cubic inch of the cabin feels maximized to either make you feel exceedingly spacious, or bored out for you stowaway little items. Not very interesting to look at, but anybody living with this on a day-to-day basis will find its user-friendliness agreeable.


Such is the emphasis on practicality, the CR-V never carried the burden of having to offer any sort of exuberance in its driving experience. Still, an SUV this size needs a fair amou‍‍‍nt of zip to move without feeling strained, and the new turbocharged engine provides just that.

Its partnership with a CVT means that outright performance is not on the agenda, but as experienced in the Civic, Honda’s in-house CVT smoothens out the abrupt punches typical of a turbo engine. The result is acceleration that is smooth, seamless, and not what you would call slow, though neither is it particularly exciting.

The AWD setup gives the CR-V added security and composure around bends, though you also acutely feel the added drivetrain weight as the engine applies that extra dose of twist to overcome the rear driveshaft’s inertia. For most drivers, however, we reckon the FWD setup will do just fine.


The CR-V’s strengths as a product lie not in any exciting quality, but rather how it is able to seamlessly blend into your life. It is a pleasant car to live with and, although not particularly plush or luxurious, filled with many little touches that make your day-to-day motoring easy and fuss-free.

Added marks to Honda too for starting the base 2.0 i-VTEC model off with a commendably high level of equipment. If you must have a CR-V, but at the same time operating on a tight budget, you won’t be shortchanged for picking the cheapest model on offer.

The Turbo versions are the ones most people would go for, though we can’t fathom any good reason to pick the RM156k FWD Turbo model. The choice really is between the AWD model as tested here at RM162k, or sacrifice ‍‍‍all-round traction for Honda Sensing.

Our take? We reckon most would better appreciate the added safety of Honda Sensing of the range-topper, though there are just enough of us discerning drivers that the AWD model makes a more persuasive case.


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Daytime running lights:
Keyless entry:
Powered boot / tailgate:
Parking sensors:
Apple Carplay:
Android Auto:
USB: 2+2
Autonomous Emergency Braking:
Blind spot warning:
Lane departure:
Airbags: 6‍‍


Front & rear




1,498cc, four-cylinder
Turbocharged Petrol
193PS @ 5,600rpm
243Nm @ 2,000 – 5,000rpm


Brakes (F/R)
Vent Disc / Solid Disc

Suspension (F/R)
MacPherson S‍‍‍trut / Multi-link

Shadowed by reliability concerns, but chassis is perhaps the most talented in the segment. - BOBBY‍‍‍‍‍‍


Volkswagen Tiguan

Mazda CX-5

Premium styling and likeable driving dynamics. Greatly improved NVH too. - BOBBY‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍

Peugeot 3008

USP is design. Body shape is conventional SUV, but impressive styling details, both inside out ‍‍‍- KON‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍



“The most spacious SUV in its segment for passengers to sit comfortably with an above average sound system though it feels a bit bulky to drive around. ”
- Beng

“It’s very heart warming to see a leading car maker not resting on their laurels, but choosing to raise the benchmark for all to follow.”
- Bobby