By on October 13, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda AustraliaIf Australia is an effective test bed for American tastes — and it most definitely isn’t — then the three-row version of the fifth-generation Honda CR-V would be a hit stateside.

We told you way back in April that there were plans afoot at American Honda for a utility vehicle to slot in between Honda’s two-row CR-V and three-row Pilot. We then watched, intrigued, at the level of interest among TTAC readers when we showed you images in July of Honda Australia’s three-row CR-V. Could this be the SUV Honda plans to squeeze between the CR-V and Pilot? At the time, Honda told TTAC, “We can’t make comments about any future possibilities.”

So you’re telling me there’s a possibility.

There likely is only the most limited sort of possibility. The third row can’t be linked with all-wheel drive, for starters. It’s obviously snug. And American Honda already has the Pilot, which Honda does not offer in Australia.

Nevertheless, if the Australian test bed is looked upon as a case study, American Honda would discover a three-row, seven-seat CR-V that turns out to be more popular than expected.

2018 Honda CR-V third row - Image: Honda AustraliaIndeed, Honda Australia first limited the three-row option to the top-spec front-wheel-drive version of the new CR-V, launched in July. But according to Honda Australia director Stephen Collins, “There is more of an opportunity with the seven-seater — it has taken us a little bit by surprise how strong it has gone.”

Motoring reports that Honda’s goal for the three-row CR-V was for 15 percent of total CR-V volume. But the most costly front-wheel-drive CR-V, the VTi-L, has instead ended up accounting for more than 20 percent of Honda Australia’s CR-V volume.

While it remains highly unlikely that all-wheel-drive CR-Vs will offer a three-row option “because of technical issues fitting it in over the rear diff,” Motoring says, Honda’s Australian lineup may require a broader portfolio of three-row CR-Vs. “I think the opportunity is in the lower grade two-wheel drive,” Collins says, “but we are investigating now.”

On this side of the Pacific, direct competitors to a three-row Honda CR-V would include the Nissan Rogue, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Volkswagen Tiguan. The Rogue offers a third-row as part of an $1,190 package on the base S trim or as part of a $940 package on the mid-grade SV. All-wheel drive is not a limiting factor. At Mitsubishi, seven-passenger seating is standard on the Outlander. The Volkswagen Tiguan comes standard with a third-row, but if you select all-wheel drive the third row becomes a $500 option.

[Images: Honda Australia]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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12 Comments on “Three-Row Honda CR-V is More Popular Than Honda Expected – You Still Can’t Have It...”

  • avatar

    I think the 3-row CR-V would generally just sap some sales from the Pilot. While people would view the 3-row version as the uplevel choice here, without AWD it’s not much of a draw.

    Pass. Leave it to the Pilot.

  • avatar

    Corey, please fix the picture. As per TTAC protocol, it should be upside down.

  • avatar

    3-row CR-V would be perfect for people like my parents, who’d would like the 3rd row to stuff visiting family into the same car a few times a year for the 10 minute drive to dinner. Cuz parents hate taking multiple cars to dinner.

    they’d pay for the option, but would pass on moving up to the Pilot (or 3-row Highlander, Subaru Ascent, etc).

  • avatar

    Seems the CR-V is already supply constrained,

    I last read that the CR-V was the only model among the top 20 sellers that was selling essentially w/o incentives

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah. When you already added a US production line because you thought it would be a hit, and *still* are having trouble keeping up with demand, there is no reason to add another version for the NA market.

      So we might see the third row version in a few years if demand cools off or they add yet more production capacity, but you don’t goose demand with a third row variant when you’re already having trouble meeting current demand.

  • avatar

    I guess the newest CRV is a little bigger than they used to be.

  • avatar

    If they had stretched out the CR-V and added a third row with some real legroom, then we could move up to that, instead of going elsewhere for our next family hauler (the Pilot is too big IMO).

  • avatar

    i can only guess at what honda’s gameplan is

    i remember more than a decade ago being in a foreign country getting a ride from a relative… they had a 2nd gen CRV w/ 7 seat option

    we had the same car but with only 5 seats (7 seat option not available here)

    the same 2.4 four plus (i think) a 5 spd auto and the faux 4wd

    the car pulled fine with 7 people onboard, in fact as a 6ft male i had no complaints on a short trip in the 3rd row

    so i must assume that honda deliberately does not have a 7 seat option in a mid sized medium priced SUV just to force you into more expensive options

    in fact you need something like $50k and you have to move into the pathfinder class for 7 seats mostly

    outliers are stuff like the outlander xtrail/rogue but i believe they are smaller than the CRV

  • avatar

    my wife insists on an awd vehicle for winter and a three-row suv for the two times per year we use the third row.

    so we have a cx-9, which we love, but gets crap gas mileage and while it is more nimble than any vehicle that large has a right to be you pay for it on bad roads.

    now, if the CR-V had a third row (and AWD) then i would push very hard for that to be the next family road trip vehicle and her winter vehicle.

    looks like it won’t happen.

  • avatar

    Previous generations of the CR-V were already available with a factory 3rd row option overseas.

    Here’s a man folding up the third row in his 2nd Gen (2002-2006) CR-V:
    From this video:

    Here is the third row seat in the 3rd Gen (2007-2011):

    Interestingly, the 2nd Gen was officially available as a 10 seater, 3 across the front bench, and 4 belts on each rear bench. Here’s a picture of the front bench in a 10-seater. Notice the dash mounted e-brake.

    Here’s a press release about the 10-seat version.

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