• 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

If you were marched blindfold to both this and the previous Honda CR-V, sat in disguised cabins and allowed to drive both, you might wonder from their dynamics which is the newer car.

Relative to its rivals at the time, the old CR-V was a real achievement, a breath of fresh air blowing through the turgid ranks of its classmates with enough of a spring in its step to make you pleased you didn’t splurge the extra on a Land Rover Freelander 2.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The CR-V languishes behind the Freelander, Santa Fe and X3

At best, this new model has trodden water while all the time its rivals have advanced. When new, the 2.2-litre diesel was a groundbreaker; now it seems merely adequate.

While the old CR-V also possessed ride and handling that really raised the eyebrows, now it’s not bad, but nor is it outstanding in any notable way – and falls behind the likes of the Mazda CX-5 and BMW X3.

And that is an effective metaphor for the CR-V as a whole. It gives the impression that wrapping it up in fresh new looks is somehow enough and that the rest of the car does not need to be similarly renewed. That said, the addition of a 1.6-litre diesel is timely and should ensure that CR-V sales stay strong.

But it is no longer a car about which we can get at all excited. You might wonder why we ever thought it a possibility in this class of car. To which we’d point out its predecessor and that Honda badge on its nose, a sign that still speaks of engineering excellence far beyond the run of the mill.

Sadly, and in the Honda CR-V at least, there is little evidence of that mindset at all.

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