After a few hours of testing the updated 5th-generation top-spec Cosmic Blue Metallic 2021 Honda CR-V SX compact crossover, I couldn’t help but reflect back to my own 1st generation LX model that I had in 1997 before Honda Philippines had begun to sell the CR-V model in our market. I actually had an imported US-spec model with AWD, that did not have ABS, but had a moonroof and all the other options available at launch time in California. It used a 4-speed automatic transmission and had the B20B 2.0-liter non-VTEC engine that produced only 126 bhp and 133 lb-ft of torque. Since it didn’t have the updated higher-compression 147 bhp B20Z engine that eventually was packaged with the official Philippine model, I installed the first Jackson Racing Supercharger kit outside of North America through the Car Shack high performance tuning shop that did improve engine power and the general behavior of the utilitarian crossover. It was quick and unique for its day but it does not hold a candle to the models that evolved after it with factory tuning and packaging. I bring it up because the new Honda CR-V SX is so refined and mature that even with all the tuning on my old car when it was new, it couldn’t possibly reliably keep up with this optimized turbodiesel.
The Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4 are the forefathers of the crossover genre, but I’ve always had a softer spot for the Honda. The only feature missed from the foundation car is the neat picnic table. The Honda CR-V was always a very well designed and engineered crossover that was and still is a highly adaptable and thoughtful solution for car buyers. It serves so many needs for so many people, and the model has been embraced with much affection over the generations. We have had several models from every single generation in our C! Fastfleet.
Cutting to the chase, the new 2021 SX model has some subtle exterior updates that include a more prominent Wing-type front grille flanked by excellent full-LED headlights and front foglamps, refreshed front bumper, revised rear taillamps and bumper, the tailgate is now power-operated, it has a panoramic moonroof, a wireless smartphone charging pad, power adjustable front seats, a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen system with Navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity enjoyed through 8 good-sounding speakers powered by a 180-watt amplifier, extra generous rear climate control vents for the second and third rows, the intelligent Real-Time four-wheel drive system, and the comprehensive Honda Sensing safety suite that uses a variety of sensors and cameras to actively operate the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, and Auto High Beam function. The safety suite is in addition to the 6 SRS airbags, LaneWatch, Vehicle Stability Assist, Reverse Camera with Guidelines, and other systems to keep occupants and pedestrians out of harm’s way.
There are three other more affordable variants but it is the SX that is the most compelling because of its standard packaged equipment but it is quite a jump from its entry level S-gasoline model that seats 5 at a cost of P1,678,000. The two extra seats in the S-diesel front-wheel drive only model and this SX test unit are neat and look nice but they are truly best used only by small children. It is the least alluring feature for me but it may make more sense for younger families.
The CR-V is a confident, dependable, very capable machine with good direct steering and the finest NVH in its class. The spacious high-quality cabin insulates its occupants very well and offers quite a range of versatility. With Sport mode engaged the Honda CR-V SX is plenty quick and quite agile. The proportions of road contact and surface compliance are remarkable. The noble Honda will reward you with very good fuel range and linear power delivery. It has all the merits and features that its competition would desire but at a cost. And that my friends is truly the only tangible issue of the current range of Honda CR-V’s, price. Buyers may look at it as an organic filter for more premium exclusivity but it would help convince passionate Honda fans more if they got more factory support to justify the higher acquisition costs. A 5-year free maintenance service program would be a huge benefit for potential buyers. And we hope that the Hybrid models will be offered soon.
Cast Aluminum, DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, i-CTDi
Intelligent Direct injection Common-rail VGT Intercooled Turbodiesel
Max Power (bhp @ rpm)
118 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Max Torque (lb/ft @ rpm)
221 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm
Drag Coefficient (cd)
ZF 9-speed automatic, Primarily Front-Wheel-Drive with Intelligent AWD
Front: Independent MacPherson Struts with 23 mm tubular anti-roll bar / Rear: Independent Multi-link with Dampers & Coil Springs with 13 mm solid anti-roll bar
Front: 11.1-inch (282 mm) ventilated discs with 2-piston calipers / Rear: 10.2-inch (259 mm) solid disc with single caliper, ABS, VSA (with Agile Handling Assist), HSA, EBD, and ESS
18” x 7.5J Multi-spoke Two-Tone Aluminum Alloys
P235/60R18 103H Michelin Primacy 3 ST
Weight and dimensions
1732 kg. (3810 lbs.)
58% Front / 42% Rear
205 km/h (128 mph)
0-100 km/h | 0-62 mph
Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions
57 liters (15.1 gallons)
Fuel Milage (km/l)
19 km/L Overall
Price as Tested (PHP)
The very best NVH in its class, attractive, full-featured, efficient and purposeful, thoughtful packaging.
What's Not So
Does not use the twin-turbo N16A4 version of the 1.6-liter turbodiesel that produces 158 bhp / 258 lb-ft. Steep price. Third row for toddlers only. No 330-Watt Premium Audio System with 9 Speakers option. No hybrid option yet. Does not have a free 5-year service plan.