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Honda CR-V to become a seven seater

By raccars Published

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Honda is preparing the next version of its CR-V crossover, with prototypes spotted out testing in the United States. Although the test vehicle was heavily disguised, it was easy to see that the next CR-V will be significantly larger than the current model. In addition to an all-new platform architecture, there will be a new engine range under the bonnet when the CR-V reaches British roads in 2018.

The current Honda CR-V

The CR-V has been on the market since 1995 and is currently in its fourth generation, released in 2012. It received a gentle facelift earlier this year and is available with a 1.6 litre i-DTEC diesel engine in two different power outputs and a 2.0 litre i-VTEC petrol unit. A five star Euro NCAP crash test rating is a significant part of its appeal.

The SUV line-up at Honda

Honda's SUV line currently includes the smaller HR-V, based on the Jazz hatchback, and so the CR-V is growing in size to avoid overlap between the two vehicles. This could see Honda make it available as a five and a seven seater.

Assuming this is to be the case, the CR-V enters a slightly different market segment in which its rivals would become the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the Nissan X-Trail and the Kia Sorento. It's not yet clear whether the seven seat option will be available globally or only in markets (including the UK) in which Honda doesn't sell its larger Pilot model.

Fifth generation CR-V

Underpinning the CR-V will be the same chassis used for the next Civic hatchback, due early next year. This platform could see the SUV grow in length by up to 50mm, making it a similar size to the Nissan X-Trail. The prototype showed off Honda's characteristic 'Solid Wing Face' front grille and headlight cluster and a bold tail light cluster in a wide L shape, extending up the sides of the rear windscreen and across the boot.

Honda has some new engines under development, including three cylinder i-VTEC turbo units in 1.0 litre and 1.5 litres, and a new 1.6 diesel unit which will be used in the Civic. It's likely that the two larger engines will make their way into the CR-V, plus an updated version of Honda's 2.0 litre petrol engine. Honda has yet to confirm a hybrid model in the range but it could help Honda to meet ever stricter emissions limits.

The standard configuration will be front wheel drive and a six speed manual transmission, with the option of four wheel drive and an economical nine speed automatic gearbox. Honda is also expected to bestow the new CR-V with a higher quality finish than previously seen as part of a plan to grow global sales to six million units annually. Improvements should include extra refinement and an advanced array of modern technology, including smartphone compatibility.

Last year the CR-V was the best-selling SUV in the US, where 345,000 were sold, so this is a very important step for Honda. In the UK, the Japanese firm sells about 15,000-20,000 CR-Vs every year, but a new look could help the SUV to gain a larger share of what is a key market segment here.

The next CR-V will be launched first in its home territory of Japan, together with the smaller HR-V. It's expected to reach the US by the end of next year and will come to Europe, including the UK, in 2018.

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