• If the new CR-V looks more crossover than old-guard SUV it may be because the roofline is 30mm lower than before
  • The pinched nose treatment is intended to present a bolder face to the world
  • These 18-inch wheels are the biggest you'll see on any CR-V
  • The CR-V has a much less steep A-pillar, thanks to the windscreen being 60mm further upwards
  • The tapered side glass is edged in chrome and draws your eye away from the CR-V's squarer roofline
  • For a manufacturer perceived as an almost-premium brand, Honda has shown a disappointing lack of flair with the CR-V's cabin
  • There is ample accommodation on offer in the rear with no obstructive transmission tunnel
  • Despite the lower roofline, the boot has grown in size and is improved with a lower lip line
  • At entry level S-trim, you'll have only an AM/FM radio, USB connection and a CD player to keep you occupied
  • The Honda finds good traction, grip and braking stability in the wet
  • Body control is not great and not bad, simply average
  • The CR-V's drivetrain is more efficient, more sophisticated and lighter than its forebear
  • The CR-V feels like a front-wheel-drive car for the vast majority of the time
  • Turn the ESP off and the the CR-V can become surprisingly mobile at the rear
  • No longer one of the class elite. A competent but unremarkable SUV

For a car intended to appeal as much to fashionistas as traditional off-road devotees, Honda appears to have missed a bit of a trick. You can see what it was trying with its dashboard design but the truth is, it doesn’t quite work.

In certain circumstances, form can take precedence over function and still result in a driving environment that’s cohesive and not so difficult to use that it becomes counter productive. In the Honda CR-V, while the idea of a large central speedo flanked by smaller gauges for revs, fuel and water temperature is sound, more minor controls are less sensibly arranged. And if you choose the optional sat-nav, it may not be long before you wished you’d just bought a TomTom and slapped that in the window instead.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Econ button alters the Honda's throttle mapping to encourage a more economical driving style

Elsewhere, the CR-V finds itself on surer ground. There is of course the obligatory raised driving position without which no SUV is worthy of the name, and you can count on Honda not to mess up the fundamental relationship between the driver, pedals, steering wheel and gear shifter.

Those condemned to life on the back seat may notice and appreciate the absence of a tranmission tunnel, though the 38mm drop in the H-point may be more difficult to spot. No matter, with a large and airy glasshouse the Honda CR-V provides one of the better views of the world as it passes by the window.

The boot is sensibly shaped and of competitive capacity for the class while your friends will marvel at the mechanism for dropping the rear seats: one tug of a handle and the seat bottom shuffles forward, then the back flops down and the headrest tucks into it.

It may even be a neat enough solution for you not to notice that the Honda's total loading capacity is somewhat smaller than that offered by many rivals.

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