That being said, allow us to start the review by putting things into perspective. As some - if not all - of you might already know, Honda introduced the new 1.6-liter mill as a replacement for the old 2.2-liter unit. The move is quite similar to the one operated by Nissan for their new X-Trail, which, if the customers desire so, can come with a 1.6-liter diesel engine good for 130 horsepower under the hood.
In the CR-V's case, we're talking about 160 horsepower - courtesy of Honda's Earth Dreams Technology philosophy - and the addition of a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, coming to replace the old, inefficient five-speed unit.
We'll get back to this aspect later on in the review, when we'll address it in a more detailed manner by also drawing a comparison between how the six-speed manual and the nine-speed auto transmissions manage the engine's resources.
For now, let's have a look at the CR-V's design, although you can make your own opinion based on the images you'll be able to find in the photo gallery.
As far as the facelifted 2015 Honda CR-V is concerned, it's pretty clear that Japanese designers realized the SUV
will play in an arena where the Nissan Qashqai and the Mazda CX-5 are both dressed in crisp clothing, to say the least.
Now, the CR-V was never an aggressive car, and you can tell that by looking at each of the model's four generations.
However, the 2015 CR-V gained an extra amount of sharpness at the front as well as the rear, but enough to keep the SUV in its comfort zone. Because the CR-V is, as you'll see, a car that holds both the driver and passengers in the comfort zone. Literally.
Among the highlights up front, there are three horizontal chrome bars applied on the front grille, the headlights were granted new graphics along with a set of U-shaped LED daytime running lights to freshen things up.
These retouches are continued at the back, but don't expect significant changes. In fact, all that's modified is the design of the vertical taillights, which now fits the overall styling brought by the facelift.
The CR-V grew in size as each generation kept getting bigger and bigger, and that means only one thing: a lot of space inside. You can expect a roomy interior just by looking at the CR-V from the outside, but all you have to do to remove any remaining doubts is simply open the door and step in.
If you decide to do that as the driver, you'll notice right from the start that the CR-V allows you to sit in a high position. From there, you can oversee what's happening around the car as well on the instrument panel and dashboard areas.
The seats are comfortable, and you feel the proper support they offer from the moment you tucked your back in. But that was not going to cut it for the CR-V if the SUV was to keep the comfort and convenience values it developed over time.
The best way to test how comfy the CR-V really is has a lot to do with taking the car for longer journeys outside the city, on all types of roads. As I was saying, you feel that your back is well taken care of once you step in the car, but when you reach your destination and leave the car, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how rested you feel. Fatigue has a hard time reaching you when you're driving a CR-V, and we all know how important this is for the long trips outside the city.
Other than keeping your posture as natural as possible, the CR-V excels at another aspect: ergonomics. Everything is placed at your disposal; you don't have to stretch your hands to reach various controls and, as we were telling you when we tested the 2015 CR-V equipped with a manual tranny, the lever is positioned in an easy-to-reach place.
Speaking of which, the same goes for the mini-lever that comes with the nine-speed transmission. I have got to hand it to you, I think this solution is way more elegant and subtle than having a big stick at your disposal to put the car in Drive, as if you were stirring in a big bowl of soup.
To put the car into reverse, all you have to do is slightly move the lever to the left and then up. If you want to engage the drive mode, you do the same short movement to the left but from this position you go down. To engage the parking brake, all you have to do is press a button.
As I was saying, the lever is situated in an elevated position, right under the car's A/C and multimedia controls. Above them lies the seven-inch smartphone-style screen we'll discuss later. The best advantage of this setup is that you don't have to take your eyes off the road whenever you decide to look at the display, which means the facelifted Honda CR-V earns additional points for driving safety and the driver-oriented cabin setup.
However, I felt the interior a bit too sober for my taste, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as some customers might prefer that tidy and "well-ironed" atmosphere inside the 2015 CR-V. In addition, the soundproofing applied around the cabin does its job as it should, keeping noise away from the driver and passengers even at highway speeds.
Other than that, the materials are harder than I expected to find in an SUV that wants to put comfort first, although visually speaking, they look decent. In a way, it's understandable that Honda went for durability here instead of eye-catching trim inserts. But the good news is they kept the right-foot knee cushion for the driver on the median tunnel, as well as the CR-V's practical features.
In this department, I must mention the generous space found in the central armrest positioned between the front seats as well as the pockets on the inside of the doors and the well-split glove compartment.
Passengers in the back seat will enjoy the above-average knee and head room, but only two people will be able to enjoy to spoils offered by the 2015 CR-V in this department. Don't get me wrong, though, you can accommodate three people on the backseat with no problem and with a decent level of comfort. That's mainly because the person sitting in the middle won't be bothered by the transmission tunnel usually found in other cars.
The boot offers a grand total of 589 liters of storage space, and you can rely on it to swallow big objects with ease, especially boxes and crates, but also regular luggage thanks to its square-ish setup. In this regard, the 2015 CR-V finds itself in front of rivals such as Mazda CX-5, Ford Kuga and Nissan Qashqai, which only offer 464 liters, 442 liters, and 430 liters of cargo space, respectively.
There's also the wide tailgate and its lower closing point that lets you load and unload stuff easier, but if it's more space you need, Honda offers a space-saving spare wheel, a solution that will provide you with 1,669 liters of cargo space and a flat surface, with the back seat lowered.
Since we've ticked this aspect as well, let's focus on the core change of the 2015 Honda CR-V facelift, namely the engine-gearbox duo. As we were telling you earlier, the revision of the 2015 CR-V was synonymous with the addition of a new 1.6-diesel mill and a ZF nine-speed automatic gearbox.
It's also worth mentioning this is what European clients get - like we mentioned above, we tested the Euro-spec 2015 CR-V - while in the US, the CR-V is available exclusively with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder powerplant set up to deliver 185 horsepower and 181 lb-ft (245 Nm).
The Euro-spec model we tested had 160 horsepower at its disposal and a maximum torque of 280 lb-ft (380 Nm).
That's a generous torque value since in real world, under normal driving conditions, it has no problem with putting the 3,594-lbs (1,630 kg) CR-V into motion from a standstill or speed things up when you're overtaking another car.
Our previous review with the CR-V revealed that the manual transmission was doing a decent job in handling the 1.6-liter diesel. It was precise and placed the emphasis on a calm driving style.
With the new nine-speed auto, things get better in the sense that accelerations are smoother and more linear. Plus, the torque is always there, waiting to come in handy when needed, especially if the tachometer needle wanders below 2,500 rpm. So you can kiss goodbye the idea that a 1.6-liter engine will struggle when asked to spin the wheels of an SUV as far as the 2015 CR-V is concerned.
The nine-speed gearbox changes gears in a swift fashion, whether you're traveling around the city or outside the urban jungle. This only adds to the overall comfort level, but there are some exceptions.
For example, at times, when the car is only travelling at around 12 mph (20 km/h) or 19 mph (30 km/h) and decide to step on it, the gearbox needs a couple of seconds before executing your orders. Sure, that's not a major inconvenient unless you're sitting in a traffic jam and all of a sudden everyone starts moving, but it also means Honda still has some refining to do in this regard.
Moreover, when you're travelling on the highway at speeds of around, let's say, 80 mph (130 km/h), the gearbox will stay engaged in the eighth gear, and not the ninth as I expected. However, if you decide to slow down, or you're going slightly uphill, the transmission will shift into the ninth gear. Otherwise, the engine remains obedient and refined from an acoustic point of view even if you go past the 3,000 rpm mark, should you decide to take your driving to a more sporty level and start playing with the paddle shifters found behind the steering wheel. But, honestly, that's not what this car was built for and so you that will probably never happen.
The suspension system was tweaked to provide better handling, but all things considered, the CR-V is still an SUV, which means the ride quality is one that favors a good shock-absorbing behavior. However, at times, whenever you encounter a more pronounced bump in the road or a broken portion of asphalt, the CR-V's body will shake a little.
Other than that, the steering is precise, but some might find it too heavy for urban driving. Despite that, the CR-V handles in an appropriate way in the city, but without making a splash. After all, it's not a supermini.
Breaking is also better now, and by better we mean that you actually feel how the calipers and the brake discs work together to provide that stopping power lacking in the pre-facelift CR-V, although there's still some room left for improvement.
Which brings us to another talking point in our review, namely fuel consumption. Honda says that the new 1.6-liter diesel engine returns, in theory, a 4.9/100 km (56 mpg UK or 48 mpg US) fuel economy as far as the combined cycle is concerned.
During our test with the facelifted 2015 Honda CR-V equipped with the 1.6-liter diesel aggregate mated with the six-speed manual, the CR-V proved a lot thirstier than that, because fuel consumption was, on an average, 7.6 l/100 km (37 mpg UK or 31 mpg US).
Now, with the nine-speed manual and the same diesel engine, the CR-V's onboard computer showed a real-life consumption value of 7.4 l/100 km, or 38 mpg UK and roughly 32 mpg US.
As you can see, the differences are small, although it is worth noting that our second test, the one carried out on the CR-V with the 1.6 diesel and the ZF auto gearbox, was stretched over a longer distance, on various categories of roads.
So, here comes the price argument. In Europe, the cheapest 2015 CR-V equipped with the new 1.6-liter diesel, six-speed manual gearbox and 4WD
can be had for at least €32,590 and comes with the Elegance trim level or above. But if you want to throw the nine-speed automatic into the mix, you'll have to pay a €34.690 price tag. That's €2,100 more just to get the auto gearbox.
As far as the US market is concerned, we can tell you that the CR-V is available here in LX, EX, EX-L and the range-topping Touring variant. For the entry level LX CR-V, customers should get ready to pay a starting sticker of $23,445, which does not include taxes, license and registration expenses.
Those with more demanding needs and standards can go for the CR-V Touring, but the pricing starts at $31,645 for this one.
To sum up, it's fair to say the CR-V remains the same practical, convenient and comfortable package it was meant to be. Also, with the addition of the new nine-speed auto gearbox, the Japanese SUV becomes even more comfortable, especially for those who are going to use the CR-V around the city. Still, the auto gearbox's benefits are also present outside urban areas as well.
As far as fuel consumption is concerned, we didn't see a major improvement when the new 1.6-liter mill teamed-up with the ZF-sourced nine-speed transmission, although it does make life easier for the driver in heavy traffic and crowded streets.