What is it?
It’s Honda’s all-new SUV, and if you’re patriotic you should pay attention because it’s built in Swindon. Honda pioneered the CR-V’s soft-roader segment, and we’re now into the fourth generation of the car. As such, this latest iteration is about evolution rather than revolution – everything has been refined, but nothing has been radically altered. The crazy engineering of past Hondas is a distant memory.
The single most impressive thing about driving the CR-V is that nothing will irritate you about it. Trouble is, the flipside to that is it’s also one of the most boring cars on sale – not a single character quirk, nothing to make you sit up and take notice of it. It’s a car that feels engineered for accountants.
Which means, on the plus side, that it’s extremely refined and very comfortable. The 2.2-litre diesel would be our pick of the range, because with 148bhp and 238lb ft of torque, it’s got enough punch to make light work of motorways. There’s also a 2.0-litre petrol, but it’s a bit asthmatic in comparison.
Handling characteristics? Er, there aren’t really any. Its rides, steers and handles with precision, but with no excitement. The CR-V does have a four-wheel drive option, but it’s a basic system that’s not been designed to tackle anything too rough. Indeed, few will be able to split it from the new front-drive alternative...
On the inside
Here’s where the Honda excels. Not because it’s exciting, but because the general fit and finish on the interior is excellent. There’s plenty of soft-touch plastic and all the major touch points have a level of quality that shames some premium brands. Pull door handles, or wiggle switches, and there’s no play in any of them – the CR-V feels like it will last for a millenia, or at the very least for a few years’ use by your hordes of children.
There is no seven-seat option available, but don’t go thinking this makes it impractical. The boot is huge, there are clever handles that allow you to fold the rear seats from either the side doors or from the boot itself, and there’s plenty of room in the rear bench. Honda has also been clever with the interior packaging – by pushing the front seats outwards, it’s found enough space for decent cupholders. Boring, but necessary.
If you’re really fussy about running costs, then it’s best to avoid the auto gearbox as it adds a hefty 7.2mpg and 26g/km to the fuel economy and emissions. But with the manual ‘box, things improve and the CR-V is reasonably eco-friendly. Residual values and reliability are strong and with such excellent build quality, trips to a dealer will be rare.