You may remember that the previous Honda CR-V was one of our favourite soft-roaders. The reason was that, for all its SUV-credentials, it didn’t feel like one when you drove it.

On the contrary, the manner in which it attacked the open road felt closer to that of a conventional car. So here was one recreational off-roader that offered the configuration that makes these cars so popular in the marketplace, with the driver appeal to make it work properly out there in the real world, too.

Matt Saunders

Deputy road test editor
The Honda CRV's ride is acceptable, but there's no great finesse

No longer. We will not be the first to remark that Honda seems at present to have lost something of is once enormous engineering mojo, and you can feel it in the CR-V as well as anywhere else.

By the somewhat modest standards of its class, it doesn't actually have a bad chassis, but it is disappointing, particularly if you’re stepping into it from a car of the previous generation. Nor do you need an open and empty road to feel it.

The ride quality no longer sits near the top of the class. Instead, the car feels like someone charged with reducing development costs has put a big red pen through the previous model's shock absorber specification and mandated something rather more prosaic instead.

So now it fidgets a little and offers body control that’s merely fit for purpose rather than genuinely impressive. It rides like most other SUVs do: well enough, but nothing like as well as a properly developed conventional saloon or estate.

It’s not much fun to drive hard, either. The steering is still accurate, but the car’s poise is now nothing special and its attitude to be thrown around is now one of benign indifference rather than positive enthusiasm. Is that why people buy such cars? Clearly not, but it was once a clear differentiator for the CR-V and we’d not be Autocar if we let that pass without comment.

Top 5 Compact SUVs

  • Ford Kuga
    Ford's targeting a class above with its bigger Kuga

    Ford Kuga

    1
  • Hyundai Santa Fe makes for an excellent ownership proposition

    Hyundai Santa Fe

    2
  • Land Rover is targeting the growing number of people buying into two-wheel-drive SUVs

    Land Rover Freelander

    3
  • If the new CR-V looks more crossover than old-guard SUV it may be because the roofline is 30mm lower than before

    Honda CR-V

    4
  • Toyota RAV4
    This is the fourth model in the RAV4's history

    Toyota RAV4

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    27 February 2015
    The second pure Mercedes-AMG model is a triumph of engineering and design, and should have rivals from Porsche and Audi worried
  • First Drive
    27 February 2015
    Dual motors and a power hike give Tesla's electric family car supercar acceleration - and the rest of the package is as strong as ever
  • Car review
    26 February 2015
    Flagship performance C-Class is more than ever a true rival for BMW's M3, and impresses with both its breadth of ability and its practicality
  • First Drive
    26 February 2015
    The new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
  • First Drive
    20 February 2015
    Remember Mercedes' 6x6 monster off-roader? Well, this is the 4x4 version, and we've driven it.