The automotive myth-busters and "moose test" inventing Swedes at Teknikens Värld set up a little climb for the 2015 Honda CR-V to see how it'd move out with no traction on the drive wheels. It failed miserably.
TV's evaluators say they tested last year's CR-V in the same way; putting the vehicle on a slight incline with the front wheels on rollers. When they tried to drive forward, the AWD system would supposedly redirect power from slipping wheels to ones with traction (rear, in this case) and let the car proceed.
When it didn't work on the 2014 model, they say Honda promised a "reprogram" that rectified the problem. As we can see in this demonstration, said reprogram appears to have been unsuccessful– it doesn't look like the "SUV" is putting any power at all to the rear wheels.
My thinking was that the car might be interpreting the rollers as a road; making the AWD setup think the car is moving normally under 2WD power. But then I realized that doesn't make much sense; the simulation we're seeing here is the same as what'd happen if you were trying to drive up an icy hill from a stop.
Motor Trend didn't seem to have any trouble with the 2015 CR-V in their recent evaluation. Hell, they pretty much fell in love with the thing. So what gives with the vehicle's performance here?
Update, Teknikens Värld got the following response from Honda Sweden:
The Honda AWD system uses a compact, lightweight and fuel-efficient rear differential. The design requires a certain torque limitation for the device to be able to work effectively in real conditions, but at the same time, it must not exceed the total capacity of the AWD drive.
In real conditions, regardless of the surface, there is a certain amount of friction always available for both front and rear wheels. The AWD system benefits therefore torque between front and rear wheels in order to achieve optimal driving force.
In the roll test non-existent grip is simulated in the front and maximum grip at the rear.
If all the available torque required to move the vehicle forward would be transferred to the rear differential then the limit for the torque of the unit would be exceeded.
If the vehicle continues to run in this state (the front wheels spinning and the rear wheels standing still) the system senses the high speed variation and that the differential clutch slips and reduces the available torque to the rear wheels to prevent overheating. That is why the vehicle moves backward in the video.
In real conditions a scenario like the roll test with such a high difference in grip between the front and the rear wheels is highly unlikely.
In other words Honda does not see that the roll test fairly highlights CR-V's AWD performance. Teknikens Värld has done a winter test where CR-V was tested on icy roads, as well as steep paths such as a ski slope.
Honda believes that these tests in real environments should be enough to show that the CR-V is a great winter car and would like to stress that there are no known customer complaints on the CR-V's traction from the Swedish market or in other markets with similar conditions.
On Teknikens Värld's question whether the update is made, we can with measuring instruments upon request show that for both customers and media.
Since it is important for Honda that customers feel safe and have confidence in ourselves we did an update of the software of all CR-Vs for the Swedish market.
CR-V customers were able to get the software, free of charge, updated at our dealers from April 15 and in production from July 8 in 2013.
Honda CR-V is a global car and has sold over 5 million copies. It is the world's best-selling SUV* and the sales in Europe is growing steadily, 6 percent in comparison with last year. The CR-V therefore has many satisfied customers around the world.
Maria Johansson, head of communications
Sure, the Swede's test is an extreme differential of grip... but I don't think it's that unrealistic to imagine a similar situation happening on an icy hill; where the rear wheels are on solid ground but the fronts are stuck on slippery stuff.
What do you winter drivers think?