When the previous-generation Honda CR-V was launched, we lauded it as one of the best-driving cars in the class. It emerged at around the same time as the Land Rover Freelander, a car it out-steered and out-handled on the road. It even rode quite well.
This time, it’s difficult to come away from a drive in the Honda quite so excited about its on-road prowess, not least because, despite 225/60-profile tyres, it rides with no particular aplomb. It stops short of being crashy, but there’s no great finesse. Speed humps and low-speed ripples shove thumps into the cabin that are felt as well as heard. Up the speed and it’s a similar story: body control is not great and not bad, simply average.
You’d forgive a lack of ride finesse, even in a soft-roader, if there were some handling panache to go with it – as there was with the previous CR-V at its launch. Now, the CR-V is very ‘current Honda’ in that there’s nothing here to offend but neither is there any inspiration. Nothing, in other words, to make you glad that the old car has been replaced with it. As it is, the Honda is never more than a moderately agreeable companion.
Once, a while ago, that would have been enough, but because you can spend comfortably more than £30,000 on this car, plus the fact that cheaper competition like the Hyundai Santa Fe has become so much more complete, this leaves the Honda with a rather bigger problem: there’s no compelling dynamic reason to choose it, and that’s a shame.