Honda Elevate First Drive Review | Sensible Family SUV

  • Aug 1, 2023
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The Honda Elevate takes the Honda City’s time-tested formula and gives it an SUV twist

We’ll save you the suspense: the Honda Elevate is a car we could blindly recommend. Today, we explore if it does anything to make you turn a blind eye towards the extremely competent alternatives that already exist.



In typical Honda style, the Elevate veers away from anything dramatic in design. The Honda Elevate is elegant, inoffensive and classy. There’s no overuse of cuts or creases and even the use of body cladding is light. The flat nose and long bonnet are a big departure from the CR-V, BR-V or WR-V i.e. all the SUVs Honda ever sold in India, which looked curvier, especially up front. 


Side note: We applaud the brand’s choice to name this the ‘Honda Elevate’ and not something ‘*RV’. Not only is it a nice name, it helps the Honda Elevate stand out as something more unique.

Is this the SUV to pick if you like your cars to look intimidating? Not really. Sure, it has a plus-sized front grille and rides tall with 220mm of ground clearance, but its appeal is more urban than outright rugged. However, whether the Honda Elevate hooks you with its design or not, it will reel you in with one thing.


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And that’s the driver’s view out! The flat bonnet has power domes carved into the sides. While they help ‘macho up’ the design a little from the outside, they do a great job of giving you that SUV ego massage from behind the wheel. The bonnet is completely in your line of sight, and slightly tall users can enjoy the view even from the rear seat. 


Once inside, you’ll appreciate the premium interior quality. The cabin’s been generously draped in leatherette padding, the quality of plastics used are smooth and consistent, and the layout is both clean and simple. The seating setup does feel similar to the Honda City though i.e. the floor box is roomy and even those of a slightly large frame will find the seats comfortable. 


Some users over 6ft tall may find that the driver’s seat doesn’t go as low as they’d like and that front row headroom is only adequate, at least in sunroof-equipped variants. The shape of the centre console can also have tall front passengers brushing their knees against it quite easily.


No such drawbacks in the rear seat though. In fact, even with the front seat pulled all the way back, a 6ft tall passenger can sit with roughly 6-7 inches of knee room to spare. Headroom is also very generous at the rear because of how the roofline is scooped out, and the armrest is placed at a comfortable angle too (doesn’t slump onto the seat base as it does in the Honda City).




A big highlight with the Honda Elevate is its new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The unit supports wireless Android Auto & Apple CarPlay and the interface looks and feels better to use than what we’ve seen in many other Honda cars. It even boots up with a custom Honda Elevate load screen. 


The Elevate also gets the same 7-inch digital driver’s display as the Honda City, that’s, by far, one of the best executions of this feature in any car. Controlled via steering-mounted buttons, the display hosts readouts like the range, tachometer, door/boot ajar warnings, a g-meter and also the ADAS settings. 

 Other features:

Tilt/Reach-Adjustable Steering

Auto AC with Rear AC Vents

Single-Pane Sunroof

Auto Headlamps

Push-Button Start w/Smart-Key With Remote Engine & AC Start

Leatherette Seats

While the Honda Elevate’s features list is loaded, it isn’t without its fair share of misses vs the competition. Seat ventilation, a panoramic sunroof, heads-up display, ambient lighting or a 360-degree camera have been given a miss. 


In fact, it doesn’t get one-touch up/down power windows for all the occupants (driver only), a 3-point seatbelt or headrest for the middle seat passenger, which even the Honda City does offer. Additionally, there are no type-C USB charge ports (only type-A) up front while rear seat occupants only get a 12V charging socket. Subsequently, the Honda Elevate is a feature-rich car but it doesn’t beat competitors like the Kia Seltos on this front.



The Honda Elevate’s 458-litre boot is extremely accommodating for a weekend’s worth of luggage for the family. Two airport-sized suitcases will fit in comfortably and we managed to get 6 vertically stacked trolley bags in with the parcel tray in place. The rear seats are 60:40 split-folding to free up additional storage space.



Safety features include 6 airbags, stability control, traction control, ISOFIX and a rear-view camera. Honda also offers the lane-watch camera that displays the passenger’s side camera feed on the infotainment system when you use the left indicator. It’s a very useful feature as it covers up blindspots you may have while looking at the mirror itself, though its utility is hampered significantly in low light conditions or rain.


The Honda Elevate also gets advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) features, though it is only camera-based, unlike cars like the Hyundai Verna or Kia Seltos that use a combination of cameras and radars.

 ADAS includes:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control

  • Lane-Keep Assist

  • Auto High-Beam

  • Collision Mitigation Braking 

  • Lead Vehicle Departure Notification

  • Road Departure Mitigation

Test Notes

Adaptive Cruise Control

Works smoothly and maintains a 2-car distance from the car ahead even at its closest setting. Given Indian highway driving conditions, this can get jerky on heavy use expressways but makes long distance drives convenient 

Lane-Keep Assist

Dials in steering-assist smoothly on even on curved roads but lane-departure corrections are applied as a last resort. LKAS won’t automatically keep you centred in a lane and will warn you/intervene once you’re crossing over the lane marker

Collision Mitigation Braking

Warnings will flash on the driver’s display frequently owning to haphazard traffic or pedestrians but it isn’t overtly sensitive to unpredictable Indian driving conditions, which is an issue with some other ADAS setups

 Since the Honda Elevate’s ADAS system depends on a front camera alone, it does not offer features such as blindspot monitoring or rear-cross traffic alert.



Powering the Honda Elevate is a familiar and time-tested 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder petrol iVtec engine, offered with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard or a CVT with paddle-shifters. The engine offers refined and easy-going performance that makes it smooth for city commutes and a decent highway cruiser. 


However, high speed overtakes or driving up hilly roads (especially with a full load) will see you pushing this engine to access the meat of its performance, most of which is available between 4,000-5,500rpm. Like the other naturally aspirated petrols offered in the segment, it’s an engine that’s best enjoyed with a relaxed driving style with enough rev-happiness to let you stretch the tachometer when you need to.

If you prefer punchier performance, the turbo-petrols offered by the Honda Elevate’s rivals in the segment are the way to go. Even the petrol-hybrid offered by the Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara or Toyota Hyryder make overtakes easier owing to the immediacy of the electric motor’s assist. Of course, these powertrains do ask for an additional Rs 1.5-2.5 lakh for these benefits. The Honda Elevate will not be offered with the hybrid powertrain either but there will be a Honda Elevate electric introduced by end-2026.


Between the manual and CVT, we’d recommend the CVT simply because it’s smoother to use. The manual transmission is convenient too but the clutch travel is long and the clutch bites quite late into the pedal’s travel.

As for the ride, the Honda Elevate is comfortable over bad roads and feels planted at high speeds. Body roll is controlled well too, and Honda’s found a good balance so it doesn’t feel too soft or bouncy over uneven roads. 



The Honda Elevate is a spacious, practical and comfortable family SUV. It doesn’t make headlines for its features list or powertrain options but delivers thoroughly on the fundamentals of what a family car needs. 

However, it’s key for the Honda Elevate to be priced competitively for it to be chosen over its extremely well-packaged alternatives. While the Honda badge does bring with it a promise of longevity, this promise isn’t exclusive to Honda alone anymore. Additionally, the Honda Elevate is more an SUV counterpart to the Honda City than an upgrade to it, since so much of the package is similar.

We expect prices to start around Rs 12 lakh ex-showroom and go up to Rs 17 lakh ex-showroom.

Honda Elevate Video Review

Honda Elevate
Honda Elevate
Rs. 11.91 Lakh
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