Honda CR-V 2.0 S

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THE Honda CR-V is sold in the Philippines in three variants fitted with small-displacement, diesel-fed engines. A fourth variant — the 2.0 S — relies on a gasoline mill. Among the litter it’s the 2.0 S that’s the cheapest. But this does not mean it isn’t as appealing as the diesel CR-Vs.

• The 2.0 S does lose some of the items the top-spec diesel variant has, like a panoramic roof, navigation, some audio speakers, LED auxiliary lamps and air-conditioning vents. It also lacks the Honda Sensing suite of smart active safety systems and all-wheel drive — things that are not fitted on the lower diesel variants as well. But what features are retained in the 2.0 S are still substantial.

• Exterior pieces are identical — head lamps are also LEDs (only the auxiliary lamps were swapped for halogen units), wheels measure 18 inches, grille and other trim are unchanged. This means it’s difficult to mark out the 2.0 S as the cheapest in the lineup.

• Shifting gears in the 2.0 S is done via a good old-fashioned lever, as opposed to the buttons on which the diesel CR-Vs rely. For such a purpose, a lever is simply more intuitive to use.

• There is more than enough space for five in the CR-V’s cabin. The front and rear seats, all covered in leather and reasonably cushy, can be reclined and slid fore and aft. The absence of a third-row seat in the 2.0 S allows for a large amount of cargo to be stowed in the back — every time, as there is no third-row seat to tuck away.

• The black color scheme in the CR-V’s cabin is unpretentious, in stark contrast to the earthy hues most car furniture are wont to take these days. The 2.0 S opts for metallic accents on some panels, too, which look more subdued compared to the faux wood found in the top diesel variant.

• Controls and functions of the multimedia unit are clearly marked and its interface is logical and easy to learn. Accessing basic functions, like pre-setting radio stations or hooking up a Bluetooth device, does not mean delving into sub menu after sub menu.

• “Walk Away” feature of smart entry system automatically locks the CR-V 2.0 S’s doors once sensors detect the key is already a couple of feet away from the car (provided the engine has been switched off, of course). A more secure system, this.

• The CR-V’s suspension is supple and thankfully tuned for comfort rather than unnecessarily toward sportiness. This lets the car glide over bad road surfaces and even over ruts or small speed humps. The cabin is well insulated against vibrations coming from movements of the suspension, as well as from noises outside the car. Whether on city streets or on a relatively long drive, the CR-V proves a relaxing place to be in.

• Gasoline engines are a Honda specialty, and so it can only be expected that the four-pot VTEC propelling the 2.0 S is silken even when spun spiritedly.

• The engine needs to be spun spiritedly in order to extract top torque — which becomes available only at 4,300 rpm.

• Not helping all that much is the CVT that’s bolted to the engine. While quite imperceptible at going about its business, it’s also a bit reluctant to “downshift” when the throttle is pressed firmly. This slows down responses, and it can feel like the car’s Eco mode has been left activated.

The gasoline-fed version of the CR-V is P438,000 cheaper than the top-spec, all-wheel drive diesel variant. If one can live without some of the items fitted to the top variant, or appreciate the lack of a clattery diesel engine, the CR-V 2.0 S is a choice over which one still does not feel shortchanged. — BMA

Bluffer’s Box

Honda CR-V 2.0 S CVT

Price: P1.648 million

Engine: 2.0-liter inline-four, i-VTEC gasoline; 151 hp @ 6,500 rpm, 189 Nm @ 4,300 rpm

Transmission: CVT

Drivetrain: Front-wheel drive

Wheels/Tires: 18 inches, 235/60

Key features: LED head lamps and daytime running lights; Econ mode; seven-inch touch screeen multimedia unit with USB, aux-in and Bluetooth connectivity; smart entry system with Walk Away; electric parking brake; dual-zone air-conditioning; USB charging ports; hill-start assist; lane-change camera