New car review Honda CR-V VTi-E

Long gone are the days of the family station wagon.

In these times, if you want a vehicle to carry five or more it’s a fit-for-purpose people mover or seven-seater SUV you will be needing.

At $34,490*, The CR-V VTi-E is Honda’s more affordable option into the family-friendly drive segment. Released earlier this year, the VTi-E undercuts its costlier ($38,990*), but better equipped, VTi-L seven-seater sibling.

That’s not to say the former is poverty pack – far from it. Tick the boxes for leather-appointed seats, dual-zone climate control with vents for all three rows, a pair of rear USB ports, 7-inch advanced display audio, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, 18-inch alloys and full-sized spare, three-mode reversing camera, 8-way powered driver’s seat, driver attention monitor system, smart keyless entry with push start, front fog lights and tyre pressure monitoring system.

The powertrain is the same - Honda’s 1.5-litre turbo VTEC four-cylinder engine combined with CVT driving through the front wheels. With 140kW of power and 240Nm of torque to haul 1642kg, response and fuel-efficiency are impressive with a 0-100km/h time of 7.2 seconds and ADR combined cycle consumption of 7.3 litres/100km on regular unleaded.

Being a mid-sized SUV, space is obviously not as generous as in the larger SUVs and people movers when all three rows are in use. As such, the CRV along with similar sized Mitsubishi Outlander and Nissan X-Trail fulfil the brief of occasional, rather than regular, seven-seater.

Comparing the CR-V VTi-E with the Outlander LS 2WD and X-Trail ST 2WD, the Honda is more powerful and torquey and thus stronger performing, has an edge on smoothness and quietness, handles better, is more comfortable, better appointed and ergonomically sound.

On the downside, it is dearer than the other two by $2000-3000.

(* does not include on-road costs).