Honda Elevate review- Functionality exemplified

Honda’s Elevate attempts to revive the brand for a second life


  • Commanding driving position
  • Loads of space everywhere
  • Smooth and refined powertrain
  • Fantastic ride quality
  • Significantly more affordable than rivals


  • Misses out on the latest tech
  • No turbo-petrol or hybrid drivetrains on offer
  • Thick C Pillar is a hindrance
  • CVT is smooth but lethargic
  • NVH levels could be better

Honda has sort of fallen behind in the past five years. With the line-up dwindling slowly to just two sedans, it was in a desperate need to stay relevant. The Elevate is this attempt to stay relevant in the Indian market and Honda’s first real crack at the midsize SUV segment. Now, this segment is the hottest one today and has some really competitive rivals today. So, Honda is late to the party but has it arrived prepared? We have the Elevate with us today to find out where it stands and if it has the potential to revive the fortunes of a once-aspirational brand to prevent it from fading away.

Honda Elevate Design & Styling

Bold is a word completely anonymous for Honda. See their current line-up and subtle, classy and toned-down are the words that come to your mind. But it also knows that Indians’ preferences have evolved. Bold, exciting and glamorous is what’s working today and it seems to have taken note of the same. While not being outrightly ostentatious, the Elevate makes you sit up and take notice. That is, readers, without the use of excessive chrome.

Be it the large upright grille in the front, tall bonnet or angry looking headlamps the Elevate manages to look aggressive without being brash about it. Look at the side profile and you realise how large it is. With a height of 1650mm, it is one tall car too. The very Volvo-esque kink in the window line, smart alloys and a generous dollop of cladding gives it a very SUV vibe. At the rear, there are ofcourse the connected taillamps shaped smartly and placed tall up. The rest of the design gives off a very clean-looking exterior. The Elevate’s design is anything unlike Honda has brought to our shores, yet one would not mistake it for any other brand. Smart and inoffensive, yet without looking like an uncle-mobile.

Honda Elevate Interiors & Features

One has to admit, today’s rivals have set tall benchmarks for the interiors. In-keeping with Honda’s ‘man maximum machine minimum’ philosophy, the functional aspects are all marvellously executed. The large doors open wide, the tall height means ingress-egress is effortless and there is loads of space everywhere. At the front there is a simple dashboard with a leather insert, square vents and a leather plus wood insert. The centre stage is the 10.25 inch touchscreen that is all-new. One can also observe a nice and deep shelf just under the AC controls to store knick-knacks while also accommodating the wireless smartphone charger.

The HVAC controls are thankfully still physical buttons with neat toggles for the temperature and fan speed. Good going Honda! Not all is rosy though. Ventilated seats are sorely missed, my passengers often complained that despite the room available, the co-driver seat is set a bit too sedan-like and there is a whole dollop of equipment, expected in this segment, missing. Take the sunroof for example, a single pane small one when rivals offer larger ones, or the fact that despite the effective air-conditioning, dual-zone AC is not present, or the fact that there is no 360 degree camera……you get the gist. The digital instrument dials look classy but the MID menu can be a chore to toggle through on the move.

Par sahab toh peeche baithenge. The rear seats are where the Elevate shines through. They are supportive, have just the right amount of hardness and leave no room to complain about headroom or legroom. Another nice touch here is the rear ac vents (which actually are effective) and a nice slope up in the floor to make for a good footrest. With such fantastic focus on the rear cabin, I would also hope Honda adds sunblinds on the windows to make for an even better ‘driven’ experience.

Honda Elevate Performance & Ride Quality

The 1.5L i-VTEC engine offers a familiar soothing experience

Under the hood, the Elevate gets powered by the familiar 1.5L four-cylinder naturally-aspirated petrol engine making 120HP and 145NM of torque also shared with the City. Paired to this is either a 6 speed manual transmission or a 7 step CVT automatic which is what I drove. This engine has become synonymous with the brand Honda having powered many cars in its long life. And just as you expect it, the first observation is the incredible refinement with which it starts. Throughout the rpm range, it is smooth and more than satisfactory. Response for itself is great too and given the rich history, reliability will as well. However, if you are expecting any thrills from it, you will be disappointed. It does not feel boring and can give you some smiles but falls short of the more powerful turbo-petrols we see today. Fair enough, but what is truly inexplicable is the absence of the City’s strong hybrid option. Why Honda? It would have made the Elevate a fantastic mile muncher and given it a true USP that it needs. The CVT is as expected, a very smooth and well calibrated unit but it is noisy and the notorious rubber-band effect persists.

Anyhow, what Honda has done unmistakably right is the ride quality. Fabulous doesn’t begin to describe it as it takes every pothole, speed breaker, crack on the road with aplomb while consistently not feeling too soft at higher speeds. There is surely some sort of wizardry involved in making a tall crossover such as itself insulate you from the nasty city road gremlins while at the same time making it feel incredibly sporty on the bends when you do decide to have fun. What is all the more comforting is the commanding driving position which gives an awesome badi gaadi feeling. The tall bonnet with a flat front end also helps you make easier judgements.

The chassis has some potential to give consistently feeling stable with the tyres giving up much before you even touch the limits of it. Put some stickier rubber and one can surely have a lot of fun in the ghats. The steering in true Honda fashion lacks feedback but weighs up well. The NVH levels have surely been improved and the Elevate also gets full wheel well cladding at the rear to reduce road and tyre noise. Wind noise however makes its presence felt and it is no european in these terms. On the 350 something kilometres I had it for over expressways, city traffic and the gruesome traffic jams, it returned an overall figure of 12.5Kmpl which is pretty respectable for its class. My only complaint here is the tiny 40L fuel tank restricts mile-munching ability.

Honda Elevate Verdict

The Elevate is an important product for Honda. And it is a great one too! Loads of space, a huge boot, easy and silent ride while still having those characteristic traits that make it a true Honda will certainly appeal to a section of buyers. However, it fails to appeal to the right side of the brain. For one, it has no exciting turbo-petrol nor a strong hybrid for efficiency seekers while still not having a great deal of tech that is now an expectation rather than an aspiration. And before you say, yes the Elevate, being priced at Rs 11.69-16.51 Lakhs (Ex-showroom) is significantly more affordable that rivals too, but buyers clearly are willing to pay more for a no-compromise situation. I came out of the week I had with the car liking it quite a lot but I couldn’t fall in love with it. And until Honda fixes it with more thrills and frills, it is destined to keep doing the odd 2000-2500 monthly unit run. All is not lost though, Honda still has time to correct things and with the right person at the top, it has the potential to truly shine even in the current sea of crossovers. Till then, I will keep daydreaming of an Elevate Type-R.

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