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This is the fourth-generation version of Honda’s Comfortable Runabout Vehicle, better known as the CR-V. This SUV has been with us in some form or another since 1995, when the Toyota RAV4-rivalling original first appeared.

Since then, the CR-V has grown larger and more sophisticated. Compared with its direct predecessor, the wheelbase of this new version has been extended by 30mm to improve cabin space, although the overall length remains the same. Honda’s suite of active safety technologies, which includes lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and more, is standard across the range. The first CR-V with a hybrid powertrain will make an appearance later this year and you can ask for a seven-seat layout for the first time, too.

For now, though, there’s only one engine to choose from: a 1.5-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol available in two states of tune. It develops 170bhp and 162lb ft when paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and 190bhp and 179bhp with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The manual is available with either front-wheel or four-wheel drive, but the CVT directs power exclusively to all four wheels.

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Beneath the striking exterior, Honda says, sits a lighter and more rigid chassis designed to provide the CR-V with a more dynamic and engaging driving experience. The suspension components have been redesigned, too, although still comprise the same MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear arrangement used by its forerunner.

How does the CR-V perform on the road?

There’s nothing particularly remarkable or exciting about the way the CR-V drives, but don't mistake that as it being incompetent.

It’s ride, for instance, is comfortable and generally compliant, ironing out what few lumps and bumps there were on our Austrian test route with apparent ease. This doesn’t come at the expense of lateral or vertical body control, either; through sharper bends the Honda remains relatively flat, while undulations don’t bring about nausea-inducing bouncing either. The steering, meanwhile, is by no means communicative, but is nicely weighted and lets you direct the CR-V’s front end with confidence.

For tooling around town and sitting at a steady cruise on the motorway, the engine is quiet and refined. The only problem is that transitioning from one to the other not only takes a good deal of time - Honda claims accelerating from 0-60mph takes 10 seconds - but also brings a fair amount of noise with it. This was largely due to the CVT in our four-wheel-drive test vehicle flaring the engine revs whenever you pressed the throttle, leading to a sustained, vocal and coarse drone from the motor.

We also had a quick go in a front-wheel-drive manual. It’s worth mentioning not only for the greater level of control it provides over the 1.5-litre power plant compared with the CVT, but also for the simple fact that Honda knows how to make a good manual transmission.

The cabin, meanwhile, is generally a pleasant enough place to sit in terms of its material appeal. The leather-upholstered seats, as featured in our test car, are comfortable and supportive and the ergonomics are generally spot on. Our only criticism here is the pedals seemed to be positioned slightly too high. There are some slightly questionable-looking fixtures - the faux-wood panelling, for instance, seems a bit out of place. The infotainment system is sub-par, too, being graphically basic and not particularly responsive.

Interior space is excellent. Second-row passengers will find huge amounts of kneeroom even behind tall front-row occupants and the panoramic sunroof doesn’t compromise headspace in the back. Boot space is 561 litres with the second row in place, and 1756 litres with the rear seats folded flat - although choosing the optional panoramic sunroof reduces this to 1638 litres.

The seven-seat model doesn’t offer quite the same level of storage capacity, with 472 litres with the third row folded down and just 150 litres when they're in use. Children will likely be the only people small enough to use them, too - most adults will find the lack of knee and headroom back there uncomfortable.

Does the CR-V still deliver what Honda's customers want?

Whether or not the CR-V represents good value for money is a bit tricky to say at present. Honda is yet to announce pricing, although an increase of between 5-10% over the existing model wouldn’t be an unfair estimate. That means that our flagship five-seater, four-wheel drive EX model will likely set you back from around £36,000.

Were you to buy a CR-V expecting it to excite you every time you get behind the wheel, chances are you’re going to be disappointed - it’s just not that sort of car. Buy one as a comfortable, reasonably practical family wagon, though, and it’ll do the trick nicely.

Aside from a few demerits such as an at-times noisey engine and less-than-stellar infotainment system, the CR-V is a largely likeable, if not particularly endearing, steer.

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