The phrase “higher overdue than by no means” can be ironic when referring to Honda’s Elevate, which is currently entering the fiercely competitive mid-size SUV segment. Yet, it is also seen as a possibility because the early adopters have tried and tested a variety of things and laid out a thorough game plan of what customers in this sector need and what is unlikely to succeed. We were genuinely interested to see what the Elevate has to offer during our recent power in Udaipur because, at one point in time, the Honda CR-V was among the easiest SUVs one could purchase in the country. Here is our excitement for and review of the most recent Honda SUV.
Overview of the 2023 Honda Elevate SUV: A Jack of all Trades | TOI Auto
Given that popular options like the Hyundai Creta and Kia Seltos are already in their second generation, the mid-sized segment has developed into a more upscale sub-segment of the SUV market. The most recent advancements in automotive technology clearly show that consumers in this market segment require some great benefits of an SUV, such as high ground clearance, plush interior, and highway presence, along with the most recent technology, high-end materials and components, and next-generation security and connected features. Nevertheless, it doesn’t appear like the Honda Elevate’s brochure includes any of the specific keywords that other manufacturers are using to drive sales in 2023, such as a panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree camera, ventilated seats, and more.
We took the Honda Elevate on a 300-plus kilometer drive, speechless but optimistic, navigating through the crowded streets of Udaipur and crossing the stunning Mount Abu Valley, which had sprung to life as a result of the monsoon rain.
Our optimism for the Elevate was well-founded because of its design, which is unquestionably proportional, contemporary, and bold. The Elevate is invariably a bad idea as a noisy automobile to look at because the design gradually grows on you with each passing minute and seems like it was masterfully constructed and understated by a geijutsuka (artist). Sharp vertical striations and a large center grille give the Elevate’s entrance a regal appearance. A substantial chrome insert that extends on all sides and harmoniously matches the LED projector headlamp accessories and the built-in LED DRLs tops off the entry facia. In order to increase the effectiveness of the faux scuff plate, the lower portion of the bumper is purposely covered in a hard plastic covering. There are modern-looking LED fog lamps on all sides that blend seamlessly with the entrance fascia thanks to their trapezoidal housing.
The Elevate’s clamshell bonnet features daring creases and elevated areas that further lend to the SUV’s tough and practical appearance. The Elevate’s use of minimal yet effective chrome accents to give it a more assured appearance was its most effective feature.
The Elevate has a simple and practical design. It features large door-mounted mirrors, chrome door handles, and plastic cladding on its squared-off wheel arches. The working board is also safe and has a plastic cladding that extends onto the doors, seamlessly integrated with the body color-painted parts. The window area is spacious and the high waistline runs from the front to the back of the SUV, giving it an upright and practical stance.
The Elevate also comes with a set of 17-inch machine-cut alloy wheels that fill up the wheel arches effectively and are proportionate to the SUV’s size. On the roof, Honda has added silver-finished roof rails.
The rear design of the Elevate is similar to other Honda vehicles in India. The highlight is the pair of wraparound LED taillamps, which are split on the tailgate. The tailgate has the rest of the light components, and all the tail lights are co-joined and run across the width of the car. It also has a minimum rear spoiler, a shark fin antenna, an exposed rear window wiper, and plastic cladding on the lower section to protect against minor impacts. The rear plastic cladding has a gray color insert that rounds off the design nicely with the rest of the SUV.
The Honda Elevate boasts a spacious boot with a storage capacity of 458 liters, which can be extended further with the 60:40 split configuration of the rear seats. Despite its high loading height, the boot also comes with a full-sized steel spare wheel.
Moving on to the cabin, the Honda Elevate impresses with its practical and unpretentious design. The dashboard is divided into three distinct sections, with the top part made of hard plastic with raised patterns, the lower part wrapped in brown leather upholstery, and the center featuring horizontally positioned air vents with an ash wood insert on the passenger side. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather and feels chunky and comfortable to hold, with several multi-function buttons on either side, including functions for ADAS, which will be discussed later. Behind the wheel, a 7-inch full-color TFT display and an analog speedometer provide the driver with essential information.
Returning to the dashboard, the main feature is the 10.25-inch infotainment display that has high resolution and is responsive. It supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it convenient for stressed-out drivers. Additionally, the Elevate has an 8-speaker audio system that complements the driving experience. Beneath the infotainment display, there is an automatic climate control system with air conditioning functions. The system also has a PM 2.5 filter that keeps the air inside the cabin clean and fresh. The fan speed and temperature control switches are intuitive to use while driving.
On the passenger side, there is a glove compartment and a storage space with a built-in wireless charger and two USB 2.0 ports. The center console has two cupholders, a power selector, and a manual handbrake lever with small storage spaces. The brown leather-wrapped panels extend to the front doors and armrests, giving a more uniform and premium look to the cabin. The seats of the Elevate are similar to those in the fifth-generation Honda Town and are covered in the same brown leather upholstery as the dashboard components. The front seats have a center armrest that opens to provide additional storage space for small items. Each door of the Elevate has storage compartments that can hold up to 1-litre water bottles comfortably.
The SUV’s high beltline results in a raised window line in the cabin, but this can be balanced out by opening the electric sunroof. The front seats provide good back support, although taller drivers may feel a lack of under-thigh support on longer drives. These seats can be adjusted manually for both reach and height to achieve the perfect driving position. The rear seats are also comfortable, with added cushioning for extra comfort on bumpy roads. The floorboard is almost flat, allowing for greater comfort for the center passenger. However, the Elevate is most comfortable with four passengers. The rear cabin also has dual air vents and a 12V power socket.
The Elevate boasts a roomy interior thanks to its 2,650 mm wheelbase, providing ample space for both front and rear passengers. However, taller passengers may experience limited headroom during extended drives. Regarding tech features, Honda’s offerings in the Elevate have not been particularly impressive so far. It seems as though they created a long list of options for the SUV segment, then cut it down based on practicality and necessity. However, it’s possible they may have gone too far in their cuts.
The Elevate SUV offers virtual displays for infotainment and driving information, but they are not the most impressive or seamless. It does have an electric sunroof, but it looks outdated compared to other SUVs with panoramic sunroof options. Automated climate control is adequate, but it’s becoming more common in lower-segment vehicles. The rear camera provides three different views, but it lacks a 360-degree view parking camera. There is no ambient lighting, no Heads-Up Display, no front ventilated seats, and not even an electronic parking brake.
As we continued our review, the Elevate SUV began to seem like a latecomer to the party and somewhat underdressed. However, we held onto our optimism and took a drive through Udaipur and ended up on the Mount Abu Valley highways. The powertrain options for the Elevate are straightforward – it has a tried and tested 4-cylinder, 1.5-litre i-VTEC, naturally aspirated petrol engine that produces 119.3 hp and 145 Nm of torque. Buyers can choose between a 6-speed manual transmission or a CVT automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
During our test drive, Honda informed us that their engineers had worked on making the CVT gearbox feel more natural by programming augmented shifts. This would supposedly reduce the rubber band effect that CVT automatics tend to have and provide a more engaging driving experience. While we did notice some improvement in the gearbox’s performance in standard mode, the personality of the SUV changed drastically when we used the paddle shifters. Under hard acceleration, the engine got very loud without much increase in speed until it crossed the 3,500 rpm mark. We found that it was unnecessary to give the Elevate hard acceleration inputs, as the system could conjure up a similar performance with just 30 to 40 percent acceleration input in the CVT. Therefore, it is better to give the vehicle a firm amount of acceleration input rather than wrestling with it. The Elevate’s CVT is better suited for keeping things at a steady pace rather than driving enthusiastically or making quick overtakes on the highway. It should be noted that the Elevate has a maximum speed of only 160 kmph, which may not matter in India as no national highway has a legal speed limit of 160 kmph. The braking performance was adequate, and the equipment list was modest, leaving us uncertain about Honda’s target demographic for the Elevate.
The place it began making sense:
As we continued to travel, the initial confusion we felt about the powertrain began to dissipate. The Honda Elevate proved to be a champion when it came to driving experience and handling. The cabin remained squeak and rattle-free throughout our journey along the freeway, rough patches, and even mud-slung areas. With 220 mm of ground clearance, the Elevate can slowly overcome most obstacles it may encounter in the real world. The vehicle feels secure at high speeds, and the 5.2-meter turning radius is very practical for city driving. Additionally, the SUV is exceptionally comfortable and absorbs all road bumps and undulations thanks to the gas-filled shock absorbers on all four wheels. The anti-roll bar fitted also helps with the SUV’s lateral stability, and while some body roll is felt, the SUV never feels unstable and remains compliant under all driving conditions.
The top-end Elevate comes with advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features, including lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, and highway departure mitigation. However, the experience with the ADAS features is a mixed bag. This is mainly because the ADAS features in the Elevate are based on the wide-view front camera and three other cameras located around the vehicle. The system is not supported by radar, which makes features like lane-keeping assist not as quick and accurate as we have seen in other radar-based systems, such as those in the recently launched 2023 Kia Seltos.
The absence of radar, electronic parking brake, and 360-degree camera now makes sense when you realize that it also allows Honda to offer its ADAS features in both the automatic and manual versions of the Elevate. This way, Elevate can provide advanced safety measures to its customers in a much more cost-effective way. However, the six airbags in the Elevate are only available for the top trim with the ADAS.
The Elevate compensates for its lack of ADAS features with the Honda Connect suite, offering nearly 40 connected features, including stolen car tracking, vehicle geo-fencing, time-fence alert, live vehicle location, remote start/stop, and more. It also supports smartwatch connectivity for added convenience.
In conclusion, the Honda Elevate enters the highly competitive mid-sized SUV segment without pretending to be a showstopper. In today’s digital age, the Elevate offers everything without going over the top (OTT), which symbolizes the SUV as a product that Honda is confident in providing to its customer base in India. Honda management stated that they are targeting people in their early 30s or young families looking for a safe and reliable vehicle for their family. Overall, Elevate checks all these boxes. It has a modern and rugged design, comes with Honda’s proven 1.5-liter i-VTEC petrol engine, offers the convenience of a CVT automatic (16.92 kmpl) or a 6-speed manual (15.31 kmpl), is comfortable and luxurious, and has an excellent balance of convenience and safety features. The Honda Elevate will undoubtedly prove to be a sound investment for those who prioritize peace of mind over a longer ownership period and should be on the shortlist of people looking for practicality in a mid-sized package.
As for the critics, they will continue to criticize it for not having great acceleration or a diesel engine option. They will undoubtedly pick on it for not having the all-hailed panoramic sunroof or ventilated seats. However, the Elevate was never meant for them anyway.
Honda has confirmed that it will dispatch the first batch of Elevate SUVs to its dealerships by the end of August 2023 before announcing the prices for the four variants that will be on offer between the two transmission options. Management also disclosed that based on the pre-bookings it has received, the Elevate currently has a waiting period of three to four months, but Honda plans to increase production once the vehicles start to leave the showroom floor.