For a car intended to appeal as much to fashionistas as traditional off-road devotees, Honda appears to have missed a bit of a trick. You can see what it was trying with its dashboard design but the truth is, it doesn’t quite work.

In certain circumstances, form can take precedence over function and still result in a driving environment that’s cohesive and not so difficult to use that it becomes counter productive. In the Honda CR-V, while the idea of a large central speedo flanked by smaller gauges for revs, fuel and water temperature is sound, more minor controls are less sensibly arranged. And if you choose the optional sat-nav, it may not be long before you wished you’d just bought a TomTom and slapped that in the window instead.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The Econ button alters the Honda's throttle mapping to encourage a more economical driving style

Elsewhere, the CR-V finds itself on surer ground. There is of course the obligatory raised driving position without which no SUV is worthy of the name, and you can count on Honda not to mess up the fundamental relationship between the driver, pedals, steering wheel and gear shifter.

Those condemned to life on the back seat may notice and appreciate the absence of a tranmission tunnel, though the 38mm drop in the H-point may be more difficult to spot. No matter, with a large and airy glasshouse the Honda CR-V provides one of the better views of the world as it passes by the window.

The boot is sensibly shaped and of competitive capacity for the class while your friends will marvel at the mechanism for dropping the rear seats: one tug of a handle and the seat bottom shuffles forward, then the back flops down and the headrest tucks into it.

It may even be a neat enough solution for you not to notice that the Honda's total loading capacity is somewhat smaller than that offered by many rivals.

Then there is the multitude of trim levels to decipher too. The entry-level S and S-Navi models come with 17in alloys, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and Bluetooth connectivity, while the latter also gets a 7.0in touchscreen Honda Connect infotainment system complete with sat nav. The SE and SE-Navi models also get parking sensors and front foglights, although the former foregoes the sat nav.

Choose the SR trim and you get high density headlights, half leather and half Alcantara interior and bigger alloys, while the range-topping EX models gets a full leather interior, panoramic sunroof and keyless entry and start.

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