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What Honda CR-V offers: its strengths and weaknesses

 Honda CR-V is one of the most common SUVs on Kenyan roads. [File, Standard]

There has been debate on whether the CR-V stands for comfortable runabout vehicle or compact recreation vehicle.

However, the “comfortable runabout vehicle” is a description widely accepted across the board.

To end debate on what the acronym CR-V stands for, Honda said sometime back that it’s an abbreviation for “comfortable runabout vehicle’.

Efficient, reliable, off-road handler and strong are some of the adjectives used to describe the car from Minato in Tokyo, Japan’s capital and largest city.

The CR-V’s first edition was produced in 1995, and has had five generations since its inception.

Honda is known for producing superb engines, that rarely cause a motorist trouble.

Honda rates the CR-V as one of its most admired vehicles, with a reliability index of 4.5 out of 5.

The 2015 edition of the car, which is the most common in bazaars across the country, due to the maximum import-age policy, comes in a four-cylinder 2,400 cc petrol engine that produces 185 horsepower, accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in about 9.4 seconds. It has a five-speed automatic transmission gearbox, and operates on either two-wheel or four-wheel drive.

There is a rare edition of the CR-V that operates on a 2,000cc petrol engine. This one produces 155 horsepower.

The CR-V has a kerb weight of 1,630kgs (weight while empty), making it heavy enough to remain grounded even at high speed.

The CR-V can comfortably carry up to a maximum of 395kgs of load. This figure includes the total weight of all occupants, cargo, and accessories, and the tongue load if you are towing a trailer.

Honda says it could cost you an average of $407 (Sh47,500) in repairs yearly, making the car fairly affordable compared to other vehicles in its range.

Some of the vehicles that rival the Honda CR-V are Toyota Rav4, Toyota Vanguard, Mazda CX-5, Mitsubishi Outlander, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Nissan X-Trail, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Subaru Forester, Ford Escape, Isuzu MU-X, Hyundai Sante Fe and Kia Sorento.

In Kenya, a 2015 version of the CR-V would set you back between Sh2.8 million and Sh3.5 million. It doesn’t come cheap, given some of its rivals, produced in the same year, could cost Sh1.9 million, which is Sh1 million less.

The CR-V has a ground clearance of 7.8 inches, which is just enough to take you to any moderately rocky terrain in Kenya.

The 2015 version of the car has a full tank capacity of 58 litres. That means at the current petrol price of Sh150.12 per litre in Nairobi, it would cost you Sh8,700 to fill the tank.

On good driving in the city, the CR-V could give you up to 10.9 kilometres per litre. The figure gets better on highway-driving, as it could give you up to 13 kilometres per litre.

That means on full tank, the vehicle can take you up to around 630 kilometres.

Businessman and part-time lecturer in Machakos County, Ken Wanyoike, owns a CR-V.

 “My father owned a Toyota Rav4. I had, however, received really good reviews of the CR-V, and I decided to give it a try by buying a 2015 version of the car. So far, the vehicle has served me well. I love its boot space and spacious legroom,” said the 42-year-old.

Mechanics who spoke to The Standard said the CR-V’s biggest advantage, is its reliable engine that would rarely break down.

However, one of its common problems is high oil consumption, especially when the car ages.

Oil consumption increases as the engine ages. So, checking the oil level and topping up may be a simple solution.

“I’ve had to top up my oil more frequently than my friends, who own competing SUVs,” said Wanyoike.

Caren Nyakundi, a banker in Nairobi, who also owns a 2017 CR-V, reiterated Wanyoike’s sentiments.

“Besides the oil challenge, I have experienced unintended acceleration, where the car increases speed even without me slamming my foot on the gas pedal,” she said.

One of the leading car repair companies in the country said the problem is a bit more common with the later editions of the CR-V.

The company said that the unintended acceleration happens more often when the driver switches on the air conditioner.

“That’s because the compressor kicks on, causing a surge that increases the engine’s revolutions per minute. That could result in the vehicle jerking forward even without being commanded to,” said a mechanic at the leading car repairs company.

CR-V driver Caren Nyakundi directed us to her mechanic, Elijah Kabiru, for a professional review of the car.

“Honda ought to have automated its oil system so that when the oil levels reduce, the driver is notified on the dashboard. That would help keep the motorist informed on the intermittent oil levels,” said Kabiru.

The mechanic further said that the car’s AC cooling system is prone to breakdown.

According to RepairPal, over 1,000 reports have been filed from drivers who were irritated when they turned on their vehicle’s AC, and instead of getting cool refreshing air, they were hit by a steady stream of hot air.

Leaks, clogs and a faulty compressor have been cited as the reasons for the common AC problem.

“Generally, the CR-V is a good car. However, its 2011 edition had more mechanical issues than any other edition of the car,” he said.

Another commonly reported CR-V problem is the vehicle groaning each time the driver makes a turn. The cause of the groaning is the differential fluid breaking down. It is advised that if your CR-V starts groaning as you make turns, replace your brakes or the entire differential fluid.

Another downside of the CR-V is its slow response in acceleration because of its CVT gearbox. The CVT gearbox in the petrol CR-V is slow to react when you feed more throttle, and hence, it’s not exactly engaging when you’re in the mood to drive fast, or need to perform a quick overtake.

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