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.
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.