New Honda CR-V ready to grow with seven seats in 2018

New Honda CR-V – exclusive image – front

Honda’s largest European SUV is about to become even bigger. The fifth-generation CR-V will be based on a new platform and is set to be powered by a range of new engines. The focus will be on a more upmarket experience when the new SUV arrives in UK showrooms in 2018, and our exclusive images preview how it could look.

Prototypes have already been spied testing in the US and despite the heavy disguise, one thing is clear; the CR-V will significantly grow in size. With the Jazz-based HR-V muscling into Honda’s SUV line-up, the Japanese maker is bulking up the larger CR-V and possibly fitting a third row of seats for the first time. That means a new batch of rivals, including the Nissan X-Trail, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Kia Sorento.

The CR-V will share a chassis with the new Civic hatch, which arrives in dealers next February. The wheelbase on the all-new SUV could increase by around 80mm over the existing car’s, with overall length boosted by 50mm. Proportionally, this will bring it closer in line with the X-Trail.

New Honda CR-V – exclusive image – rear

The CR-V was North America’s best-selling SUV last year, with more than 345,000 cars finding homes. Honda is hoping a mild exterior refresh will also help widen the model’s appeal in the UK, where between 15,000 and 20,000 models sell annually.

Our spy shots show how the trademark ‘Solid Wing Face’ grille merges with the lights to ensure the nose retains Honda’s family DNA. It’s most evident in the narrower yet longer LED headlamps. As our images show, the rear is dominated by bolder, L-shaped lights that stretch wider on to the bootlid.

Changes will also extend to the engine range. Honda has recently confirmed new 1.0-litre three-cylinder and 1.5 i-VTEC turbos, plus an updated 1.6-litre diesel for the Civic, and it’s likely the new CR-V will benefit from the two larger units. There should also be a revised version of the 2.0-litre petrol with Honda’s latest technology. There’s no word on a plug-in, but with ever-tightening emissions regulations, a hybrid is a real possibility.

New Honda CR-V – spy shots – front/side

Four-wheel drive will remain an option, as will the nine-speed automatic transmission, which is unashamedly geared towards economy. Standard models will be front-wheel drive and come with a six-speed manual gearbox, however.

Improvements in tech and quality will also be on the agenda. Honda had set ambitious targets to sell six million cars annually by 2017, yet new CEO Takahiro Hachigo put the brakes on his predecessor’s target to focus on raising quality. Expect plusher materials and extra sound-deadening in the CR-V, plus a more modern infotainment system with a suite of smartphone-integration apps.

The new Honda will be built alongside the HR-V in Japan, launching in the US towards the end of 2017. We can expect to see it in UK showrooms the following year.

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