First drive: the new Honda CR-V
We've driven the latest CR-V. It's brilliantly good but remarkably dull...
What's this then?
It's an all-new Honda, which is a rare event these days. The CR-V is Honda's hugely popular soft-roader, complete with family friendly interior, environmentally-friendly engines (for an SUV) and just about enough four-wheel drive hardware to tackle a raised kerb.
So I shouldn't take it off-road?
Probably not - it's certainly no Land Rover Freelander and, for the first time, the CR-V is also available as a two-wheel drive.
Trouble is, that transmission is limited to the 2.0-litre petrol, and frankly you'd be mad to buy that engine. It's gutless and nowhere near as impressive as the 2.2-litre diesel. The diesel, only available as a four-wheel drive, manages the 0-100kph sprint in 9.7 seconds thanks to 148bhp and 350Nm, and it's by far the best engine, especially when you match it with the snappy, six-speed manual. Refined, punchy enough, and economical too - fuel economy is improved by 12 per cent over the last gen which makes the figures of 20.7kpl and 154g/km amongst the best in the class.
And how about the interior? Is it really family-friendly?
Definitely. Honda has worked incredibly hard to make the interior function as effortlessly as possible, so there's plenty of storage compartments, the build quality is exemplary, the boot is enormous, the rear seats fold easily (with either a handle on the side or with a lever in the boot), the rear legroom is plentiful. Need we go on? If you need to seat five in comfort, few small SUVs are anywhere near as well thought out.
I can sense a â€˜but' coming?
Very intuitive of you. The Honda is great on so many levels, but it's also fantastically dull. If you want a car that will ferry the kids around in comfort and safety for the next 10 years without the merest hint of unreliabilty, then the CR-V is for you. Just don't expect any excitement into the bargain.