As the f-ing and blinding over SUVs continues apace, at last there's a more compelling dinner party defence than the blinkers and/or middle-finger usually favoured by the guilt-ridden chattering classes.
Honda's pitch for the all-new CR-V is an SUV that takes it easier on the environment than your average wagon, and does less damage to pedestrians in the process. All you need do is overlook the fact that it's not really an SUV and you're away.
The pro lobby are forever citing the CR-V's pedestrian safety record and relatively low emissions stats when being harangued by the tree-huggers for the very fact of having four-wheel drive. But even that aspect of soft-roader ownership isn't applicable to the CR-V.
It runs in frugal, climate-preserving front-wheel drive in normal conditions, only sending power to the rear when traction is lost. So this is neither a 4x4 in the most simplified anti-SUV terms, nor is it a 'gas-guzzler', and it's not even very good at running people over. So is there actually a point to the CR-V?
I pulled into a Waitrose car park to take some notes during the launch and counted no fewer than eight old-shaped CR-Vs. Admittedly the Waitrose car park in Henley is like a microcosm of bridge-playing, Honda-driving middle England, but even then, that's impressive.
The CR-V is a fence-sitter of staggering proportions, you see, a beautiful expression of what it is to live a life devoid of conflict or conviction. Not big, not German, not expensive, not often four-wheel drive, and yet still an SUV.
It's the sort of car that makes you want to grab people by the scruff of the neck and shake them until they make a commitment to something, anything, be it good or bad.
I'd have the sandal-wearing guy in the Prius and the bitch in the V8 Range Rover to dinner any day over the simpering bed-wetter in the CR-V who probably recycles religiously while still taking four or five flights a year to top up their tan.
The other thing I noticed in Henley Waitrose was how much better the old CR-V looked. Even dirty and battered as they mostly were. The one thing that isn't middle ground about the new CR-V is its looks, and that rear glass area is the stuff of Korean design nightmares.