Honda Elevate review – Better late than never | First Drive | Autocar India

This is the Elevate, Honda’s first entry into the mid-size SUV segment. Except it’s not, is it? You might remember the BR-V from 2016 – a car that, frankly, didn’t do so well. So why am I bringing up that SUV? Well, because it’s key to understanding this SUV. See, where that car was based on a Mobilio MPV, this car has been developed from the grounds up with Indian customers in mind. It’s a very important model for Honda and I’m here in Rajasthan to drive it for you. But first, back to the BR-V which, as you might

remember, offered three rows of seats and was the largest and most spacious SUV in the segment. It was comfortable, high quality and drove well, but it failed to win over buyers solely because of how it looked, which was to say like a cladded up MPV, not a proper SUV. In fact, almost all of Honda’s SUVs have leaned more to the crossover side, with low roofs, curvy styling and less than average ground clearance. Not the Elevate, and Honda certainly seems to have learned its lesson. It is tall, square, boxy and has a class-leading 220mm of ground

clearance. In fact, that’s the highest ground clearance of any Honda SUV. The tall bonnet rises above waist level and ends in a cliff-like nose,

with a huge black plastic grille area, crowned by a winged chrome piece that flows into the LED projector headlamps. The front end is so tall they fitted vertical fog lamp housings, and lower down you’ll find a faux skid plate too. Chunky mirrors spawn from the front doors, and muscular wheel arches push out from the flanks. The thick cladding around those arches show off that ground clearance, and smart 17-inch wheels and tyres

sit inside them. A body-coloured trim piece gives relief below the doors, as does a window line that kinks up into an optional contrast-coloured roof. And around the back, the look is clean, with a slight rake to the roofline, part-LED tail-lamps and a heavily cladded rear bumper. The proportions are those of a classic, upright, two-box SUV, which gives it excellent road presence, despite the relatively understated design. Before we go any further, what do you think about the Elevate do you like it a bit late to the party or right on time tell us down in the

comments to tell us if you’d pick it over any of its many many rivals if you like this video give it a thumbs up and be sure to stay subscribed to autocar India before we hop into the car let’s quickly head around the back to look at the luggage area at 458 liters this is a class leading boot as you can see it takes one travel bag very easily the loading lip is not too high and of course it can take a whole lot more if you wanted and if you need more space the back

seat fold 60 40 split and underneath here there is still room for a steel wheel space saver spare tire and the packaging Wizards at Honda haven’t stopped there because despite that class leading boot there’s loads of Passenger space too the Honda says that the elevates back seat in most Dimensions at least is class leading and at least in terms of knee room and Headroom I think they might be right the scoop frees up a lot of Headroom and this seat is in my position I’m just under five foot eight and I think I have plenty

of space there’s also the nice foot tray to rest your feet on at a slight elevated angle don’t mind me saying but I think that the sensor space and the width isn’t perhaps quite as much as some Rivals that sensor space is perhaps dampened a little bit by the fact that you don’t get a panoramic sunroof just a single pin one but that said the windows are nice and long and large even though the windowsill is quite High the seat Comfort however is just superb they’ve judged the positioning and the cushioning just right it’s not

quite in the same league as the city you’d still get that rather low set armrest like the city but it’s still plenty comfortable especially in terms of lumbar support which they’ve engineered in really really well the seat has a slight hump with the center so Center passengers might not be as comfortable as the two are the ones they’ve given it adjustable headrests unlike the city this time but there is no Central headrest and the center passenger only gets a lap belt which is a little bit disappointing now in terms of Creature Comforts back here yes

there are AC vents no blower control similarly there is a 12 volt charging socket but no USB ports and I would have liked to see rare Sun blinds over here on the windows there is however a nice Nifty pocket here for your cell phone now time to move to the front of the cabin where the restraint from the exterior design is carried over there’s a lot to unpack in the front seat of the Honda Elevate and let’s start with the dashboard design which is pleasantly uncluttered elegant and a little bit understated now that might not

be for you especially given the more flamboyant designs that have come out lately but I quite like it I think it gives a bit of an old school luxury feel especially with this forward effect and the leatherette trim with the cross stitching on the dashboard that by the way extends to the door pads at the armrest as well and it gives a real feeling of luxury quality on the whole is typically Honda High even the hard plastics on top they just feel very very well put together a bit of a shame is the fact that

there is a woven roof liner and not a knitted one but that’s a small saw point in an otherwise well put together cabin you also get a frameless Auto dimming rear view mirror and of course a single pane sunroof the steering wheel is pretty much the same as the Honda City with nice controls for everything including the Adas features I like that there are physical controls up here for the toggle switches for the auto climate control simplistic but well functioning AC vents a wireless phone charger two USB ports unfortunately not USBC just USB type a

12 volt socket and the wireless charger and the cup holders are not interchangeable like they are in the city this time which is a big relief there’s also small cubby hole here manual handbrake and a reasonably sized storage Bay under here the other Revelation is this slick new 10.25 inch touchscreen which is a big Revelation for Honda it’s the biggest one they fit in India yet it’s very slick to operate it has Wireless Apple carplay and Android auto and a few physical buttons which help you through the shortcuts it doesn’t feel like an aftermarket unit

like some of the older Honda ones did and it looks very well integrated trouble is for as well as it works it doesn’t pack in a whole lot there’s no native navigation system nor many sub menus and what you see on the home page is basically what you get you can’t keep the rear or side camera active on the screen which is cool and you can even add a central widget for music speaking of which though it doesn’t carry any fancy branding the eight speaker sound system is rather good the other thing is the part

digital instrument cluster now it’s very neat very tidy and holds a lot of functions but I can understand that some might find it a little bit too simplistic and lacking that flash value of the full digital screens or even the other part digital screens available in the market but what do you think about the interior let us know down in the comments for me the Highlight has got to be this seat Honda does seats just so well and this one is incredibly supportive incredibly comfortable although I do wish it was power adjusted I also wish

the front seats were ventilated which is another feature Rivals offer and really the elevates features list is one that is good but doesn’t match up to the high standards set by competitors other things missed out of panoramic sunroof Drive modes and an electronic parking brake but it does get a wireless charger but digital dials Wireless carplay and Android auto remote engine start connected car tech and paddle shifters for the auto gearbox on the safety front there are six airbags vehicle stability assist isofix child seat mounts and Honda sensing Aida stick which we’ll get to in

a bit but while it has a rear and a lane watch camera it doesn’t get 360 degree cameras and that’s a shame and speaking of safety it has not yet been tested by any independent crash testing body like Global NCAP but Honda is not opposed to the idea in fact it’s confident of a good score because after all its last gen models the Jazz and the Gen 4 City scored four stars in the old regime of GN cap tests and with that let’s get the Elevate out of the road because I’m curious about what the

highest riding Honda ever is like to drive foreign today the roads are in a terrible State and there’s standing water everywhere and I don’t think there’s a better test of an SUV’s metal than that so let’s see how the elevator holds up the first impression is Honda has made a concerted effort to get out of its crossover past and into its SUV future that’s because you’re sat nice and high up the view out in all directions is just superb visibility is great and stretching out in front of me is an absolutely horizontal Bonnet and isn’t

that so SUV even the big touchscreen it doesn’t impede your view too much it’s got big mirrors but they don’t create a blind spot because there’s enough of a view between the a-pillar and the mirror to see what’s going on in that Gap over there the next thing we have to talk about is the suspension at 220 mm the ground clearance is not just class leading it’s a benchmark for Honda themselves and the engineers admitted to us that they were really stepping out of their comfort zone with that you see they always keep their SUVs

or crossovers a little bit low to the ground to maintain that legendary Honda Dynamic capability I’ll get to those Dynamics later but what you need to know is that despite the tall ride height it feels firmly planted to the road and here on the highway cutting through large pools or standing water I feel incredibly confident not just in that ground clearance but in this car’s ability to handle it unfazed there’s always a danger with raising the suspension that a car might be made too stiff to compensate but Honda seems to have nailed it just perfectly

there’s a great mix between confidence suppleness and ride Comfort this is truly a very very comfortable car even as we are crashing through potholes right now I bet you can’t tell it’s just so flat and so composed and you don’t even get shocked through the steering wheel crucially like with the tall driving position and visibility the Elevate suspension setup gives you that sophisticated big SUV feel which a lot of others in the segment do not it’s not as overtly soft as some others but then it still manages to take the edge off sharp bumps just

fine while high speed stability is in another League Honda truly showing its Dynamic genius here which brings me on to the steering it is everything you could ask for in the steering of a mass market car never mind an SUV it’s got enough weight yet it’s light enough it’s got Precision it’s got directness and it’s got great feedback from the front wheels and when you combine that with the amazing Dynamic setup of the suspension it’s a true return to form for Honda this tree is like a Honda of back in the day and that’s really

saying something however there’s another area where it’s maybe a bit too old school we now have to address the elephant in the room and that is the powertrain yes this car comes with just one engine and it’s a naturally aspirated petrol Rivals offer such engines too but for all of them that’s merely the entry-level Engine with more powerful options positioned above in an age of diesels and hybrids and EVS on turbochargers this just feels incredibly old school now don’t get me wrong it’s a very fun engine that enjoys to be revved out with this CBT

it goes up to about six and a half thousand RPM and while that is fun it’s not very practical when you’re out here on the highway and just want to make an overtake to get past a truck Maybe that mid-range whack that you get from a turbocharged engine is simply missing and while that’s less of a problem in a sedan like the city in an SUV that’s what buyers want and expect Honda of course discontinued diesel earlier this year and they run up to bs6 phase 2 emissions norms and as for why the Elevate doesn’t

get the city’s hybrid powertrain the brand simply thought is better to go straight to an Eevee which will be coming by 2025. 1.5 liter IV deck is quite legendary at this point and it’s been retuned a little bit for this car they’ve given it a bit more low down talk to deal with the extra weight and the CVT has been reworked a little bit too speaking of the weight Honda Engineers tell us that spec for spec is about 150 kg more than the city on which it’s based but it’s still light at under 1 300

kg the result is that there’s sufficient Grant low down in the Rev range and this car doesn’t feel like it’s struggling with all its weight it does give you that rubber band effect which is high revs and a lot of progress that’s typical of a CVT but I’m happy to report that it recovers from it rather quickly but perhaps I’m being a bit harsh because it’s not all bad way this engine absolutely excels is in the city where it’s refined tractable and perfect for just nipping in and out of traffic now while Honda didn’t bring

the hybrid powertrain over from the city to the Elevate what they did bring across was Honda sensing Aid Aztec and now that we’re on the highway Let’s test it out it requires some conditions to be met like being at a certain speed and reading the lanes just right and once it does you see the lights going green over there now it has it’s keeping me in my Lane I can take my hands off the wheel as we approach the bend up ahead it should steer for me which it’s doing and as we approach the car

ahead of me it’s slowing down to its speed car’s gone it’s picking up all automatically and yes even though this car only uses cameras and not radar to get the job done I think it works pretty effectively another handy feature of course that Honda has been using for a little while now is the lane watch camera which activates a camera underneath that mirror shows you a fade of the screen which helps alleviate a little bit of blind spot stress amazingly the weather started to turn nicer as we drove along and I thought that was as

good a time as any to switch over to the manual version of the Elevate if you want far better control over the 1.5 I VTEC engine you’ve got to have the manual version as with other Hondas what you get is a nice short stubby short throw gear lever and a light Progressive clutch and together these take the work out of Shifting manually and let you have as much fun as you want now apart from the rate during the Honda has done to the engine of this car they’ve also worked on this six-speed manual gearbox the

first two ratios are much shorter than in the city and that’s for better low down response the result is that there’s very little hesitation when starting off and moving around at low speeds and you won’t find yourself constantly shifting down when negotiating a slow moving traffic jam for example and really this engine is a whole lot more fun when you have a manual gearbox and can modulate the revs entirely by yourself this gearbox is also a great way to Showcase how tractable this 1.5 I VTEC engine is so here I am in fifth gear flatten

my foot slight hesitation while it gets into this groove but then it pulls and pulls and pulls 50. 60 and we’re at the speed limit but it pulls so gamely in any gear that you can really tell that Honda is trying its very best to make up for the lack of a turbocharged engine another thing worth mentioning is the fuel economy which as per arai is unusually lower in the manual at 15.3 kpl than in the CVT which is rated at 16.92 kpl those numbers are also lower than some turbocharged Rivals too but typically naturally

aspirated petrol engines tend to be more efficient than turbo petrols in the real world so we’ll get back with those figures once we’ve done our autocar real world fuel efficiency test another way off the highway and on some smaller tighter twistier roads I think this is a great time to tell you a bit more about the Dynamics which are really really impressive now here’s where some of the Classic Honda handling magic shines through as I said before turning is sharp steering weight is good but I think what stands out more than any of that is

the body control Honda’s gone and done it they’ve made a tall car that doesn’t roll too much at all it holds its line admirably no matter what you do with it and how much you push it into the corners truly for a car that’s this tall with such high ground clearance it really doesn’t lean that much at all the brakes are good too and that’s despite not having disc brakes at the rear now with great power comes the need for great brakes as well and I’m happy to report that the Elevate stops pretty strongly all

of this feels like a return to form for a company that used to make some of the finest handling cars around but which had lately slipped into softer looser Dynamics to appeal to a wider audience and they’ve done it in an SUV while retaining the comfort that buyers expect and really it is precisely by our expectations that led to the creation of the Elevate no longer could Honda ignore this extremely popular and lucrative segment nor could they afford to take another let’s be honest shortcut like they did with the old brv the Elevate looks like

a proper SUV and it gives you that sense from the driver’s seat too the superblade judge suspension setup makes it feel tough and yet comfortable and let’s not forget the 220 mm of ground clearance and despite all of this it somehow handles well too just like an old school Honda it’s just a shame that fun as the Ivy Tech Engine is there are no stronger engine options available not even Honda’s own strong hybrid some also won’t like that some popular features haven’t made it to the Elevate like a panoramic sunroof or cooled front seats but

then like with the city it’s the Elevate strong fundamentals and not its flash value that will draw in buyers this is not your typical midsize SUV that chases a checklist of features the space Comfort reliability elegant design and practicality are what will draw you in oh and the fun handling that’s just a bonus pricing of course will be key and we hope Honda can keep things in the 12 to 17 lakh rupee X showroom price bracket or maybe even lower if they get that right this could just be the vehicle to elevate Honda back to

the upper end of the sales charts thank you for watching

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