Honda Elevate First Drive Review

Honda Elevate First Drive Review: Is It Too Late to Be Great?

Honda Cars India has a long-standing presence in the Indian market, but its adaptability to changes has been questioned. Despite the Hyundai Creta dominating the market segment for an extended period, other competitors seized the opportunity and established their own successful products. Now, Honda is entering the segment with the new Elevate, albeit fashionably late. The question remains whether this car is arriving too late and offering too little or if it’s a classic case of “late yet great.” To find out, we took the Elevate for a test drive around Udaipur.

Looks fresh and bold

The design of the Elevate takes notable inspiration from Honda’s popular Pilot SUV, which has been well-received in various international markets, including the USA. At the front, the car features a massive grille designed primarily for aesthetics, with half of it blocked. The signature Honda chrome slat extends to create sleek, all-LED headlamps, featuring impressive dual-function DRLs that also serve as turn indicators. LED projector fog lamps complement this setup, though we couldn’t test their efficiency during our daytime drive.

On the sides, the top-end variants of the Elevate are equipped with 17-inch dual-tone alloy wheels, distinct from the design seen on the Honda City. The vehicle’s appeal is further enhanced by strong body creases and wide windows.

Moving to the rear, the Elevate boasts large split tail lamps, giving it a robust and substantial appearance on the roads. The addition of a shark fin antenna and roof rails completes the overall look of the vehicle, adding to its sporty and adventurous character.

Honda Elevate First Drive Review
Honda Elevate First Drive Review

spacious and comfortable

The Honda Elevate impresses with its spacious interior and well-thought-out design. The boot provides a generous 458 litres of space, and the split seat setup allows for accommodating larger luggage when needed. Inside the car, there is ample room, even for taller passengers. With a 6-foot person in the front seat, there is still plenty of space for rear passengers, as I, being 5’10”, had a comfortable experience in the rear.

The interior design adds to the comfort, with the floor slightly slanted towards the passengers, providing a relaxed angle to rest your feet during long-distance journeys. The rear seats offer fantastic headroom, and the absence of a panoramic sunroof ensures there is no compromise on headspace.

The cabin feels open and airy, thanks to the large rear windows that start from the shoulderline. Rear passengers also benefit from AC ventilation that adjusts in sync with the front vents, ensuring a comfortable environment for everyone.

The seats are a standout feature in terms of comfort. Both front and rear passengers enjoy ample side bolsters, and the adjustable headrests are cushiony, providing a sofa-like feel. However, it’s worth noting that there is no headrest, not even a fixed one, for the third passenger in the rear, which may lead to a slightly tight fit, especially with the small transmission hump.

In the front, the seats are also incredibly comfortable and rank highly for comfort. While seat ventilation could have been a welcome addition, the absence of electronic adjustments is not a significant drawback, as the steering wheel offers reach and rake adjustments, allowing for personalized comfort.

Overall, the Honda Elevate offers a supremely comfortable and spacious interior, making it an excellent choice for long journeys and everyday use.

Engine and transmission

The new Honda Elevate is offered with a 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated petrol engine, producing 121 PS of maximum power and 145 Nm of peak torque – the same as the Honda City. Customers can choose between two transmission options: a 6-speed manual and a CVT. During our test drive, we opted for the CVT version, so our focus will be on that.

Initially, the 121 PS might seem inadequate for a car of this size, but we found it to be perfectly adequate for city driving. The CVT’s infinite gear ratio, combined with the naturally-aspirated engine’s strong low-end and mid-range performance, makes the Elevate EVT feel lively and responsive within city limits. However, pressing down hard on the accelerator can lead to the typical rubberband effect commonly associated with CVTs. To mitigate this, you can use the 7-stepped CVT mode, which can be controlled through the pedal shifters.

On the highways, overtaking may require some adjustment. The conventional downshifting and then executing the overtake might not be the most optimal approach, but this is a characteristic of CVTs.

Overall, the Honda Elevate with its CVT transmission offers satisfactory performance in city conditions, thanks to its peppy low-end and mid-range power delivery. However, on highways, drivers may need to adapt their overtaking strategy to get the best out of the CVT.

Exceptionally frugal

During our fuel efficiency test for the Honda Elevate, we drove it at a steady speed of 82 km/h on the Udaipur – Mt Abu road with four people onboard and the climate control turned on. Despite facing challenging conditions like elevation changes and constant rain, which could have impacted fuel consumption, we achieved an impressive 17.8 km/l using the tankful to tankful method. This figure is remarkably good for a car of this size, highlighting the Elevate’s efficiency and economy even under less-than-ideal circumstances.

Ride and handling

Honda has a well-established reputation for crafting cars with exceptional ride and handling characteristics, and the Elevate lives up to this expectation. The suspension is finely tuned, efficiently absorbing potholes and uneven road surfaces. However, rear passengers may experience a slightly stiff ride if speed breakers are not approached carefully. Nevertheless, the car maintains excellent balance and exhibits minimal body roll during cornering, contributing to a confident and enjoyable driving experience. The steering is precisely calibrated, offering a connected and precise feel, further enhancing the overall driving pleasure. In terms of ride quality and handling, the Honda Elevate surpasses many of its competitors, solidifying its position as an impressive performer on the road.

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Gets Honda Sensing but misses out on features

The Honda Elevate comes equipped with Honda Sensing, which is equivalent to Level-2 ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). This impressive suite of safety features includes autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and high beam assist, among others. Honda has conducted rigorous internal safety testing, and the Elevate has achieved safety ratings matching Global NCAP standards. Additionally, the top-end variant is equipped with 6 airbags, providing enhanced safety for occupants.

While the car offers a comprehensive range of safety features, some customers might miss certain creature comforts like a panoramic sunroof or a 360-degree camera. However, the Elevate compensates with a long list of features that enhance day-to-day convenience and usability. Overall, the Honda Elevate prioritizes safety and practicality, making it a compelling choice for discerning buyers.

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Is it worth your choice then?

The Honda Elevate impresses in several key aspects, including space, comfort, ride, handling, and fuel efficiency. However, its success in the market will largely depend on its pricing. Honda’s ability to offer a competitive price tag will be crucial in determining how well the Elevate is received by customers.

The ideal price for the Elevate to ensure market success would be influenced by several factors, including the level of competition, prevailing market conditions, and the preferences of the target audience. Honda needs to strike a balance between offering an attractive price that appeals to customers and ensuring that they do not compromise too much on features and overall quality.

Ultimately, the key is to find a pricing strategy that positions the Elevate competitively against its rivals while delivering good value for money. Honda should aim for a price range that resonates well with potential buyers and highlights the car’s strengths. By doing so, they can maximize the Elevate’s appeal and market potential. Your thoughts on the ideal price for the Elevate are welcome; feel free to share them in the comments below.

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