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More powerful case as Honda CR-V gears up

20:27 14 August 2015

It's what you don't see that makes the mildly-facelifted Honda CR-V better to drive and own with a more powerful diesel engine and new technology.

It's what you don't see that makes the mildly-facelifted Honda CR-V better to drive and own with a more powerful diesel engine and new technology.

Honda

The improvements to Honda’s latest CR-V are not immediately obvious but motoring editor Andy Russell says they’re changes for the better.

What’s all the fuss about?

Look at the latest Honda CR-V and that’s the question you might ask.

Study it harder and it looks lower and wider thanks to cosmetic tweaks – a new front bumper, headlamps, grille and some tasteful chrome bling, restyled LED rear lights and new 17 and 18in alloy wheels.

Some might say Honda is playing it too safe with what started as a pioneering sport utility vehicle but it knows its market and customers - that’s why the CR-V was the world’s best-selling SUV for much of last year.

Honda CR-V

Price: Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX 4WD Auto £34,120 (range from £22,340)

Engine: 1,597cc, 160PS, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Performance: 0-62mph 10.4 seconds; top speed 122mph

MPG: Urban 47.1; extra urban 57.7; combined 53.3

CO2 emissions: 139g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 25%

Insurance group: 27 (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years or 90,000 miles

Will it fit in the garage? L 4,605mm ; W (including door mirrors) 2,095mm; H 1,650mm

It’s what you don’t see that moves this CR-V forward.

Under the bonnet

The CR-V has been given new heart – there’s still the 155PS 2.0-litre petrol and front-wheel drive 120PS 1.6-litre turbo diesel – but the 2.2-litre turbo diesel makes way for a more powerful 160PS version of the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine for the four-wheel drive model.

Diesel delight

This diesel needs a few revs to sparkle – hit 2,000rpm and it packs a punch for almost sporty performance. It’ll carry on revving if you let it but engine noise also builds.

And it also gets a new nine-speed transmission which shifts seamlessly and with no lack of response when you put your foot down as it can shift directly down multiple gears.

My only complaint is it does not hit top gear until you are cruising at a genuine 70mph – even if you try to manually shift with the paddles behind the steering wheel - and has a tendency to go between eighth and ninth gears.

It doesn’t dent economy – I was getting 40 to 45mpg in everyday driving with a best of 52mpg on a run.

Ride and handling

Honda has tweaked the suspension, widened the front and rear track by 15mm and made the steering more responsive to make the CR-V better to drive.

You’d never call the CR-V dynamic but it is entertaining and precise on country roads, with not a lot of body lean in corners, and passengers will appreciate the cosseting ride even with the bigger wheels and fat tyres which are also pretty muted unless the road surface is really rough.

Space and comfort

What wins so many people over to the CR-V is just how spacious and practical it is inside, even if the cabin is not particularly exciting with a lot of black trim. Some plastics are also disappointingly hard given the range-topping EX model also tops £34,000 but they look good and fit and finish are first class.

You have acres of rear legroom and, with no hump in the floor, three adults can travel very comfortably in the back. Doors opening almost at right angles give excellent access and the deep 589-litre boot swallows luggage with the EX’s powered tailgate making loading easier.

Rear seats fold down 60/40 via a lever each side of the boot or a tag on the seat – the cushions flip upright, headrests drop forward and seat backs drop flat to create a 1,146-litre load bay.

At the wheel

Drivers will like the range of adjustment and high seating position which gives good forward visibility although chunky rear pillars limit the view out of the back but all but the entry model get a rear-view camera. A nice touch is padded trim panels on the centre console for driver and front passenger to rest their knees against.

Plenty of storage space and cup and bottle-holders mean the CR-V is geared up for family life.

Clear dials are easy to take in at a glance but some switchgear takes a while to find your way around, especially the driver information display menus. The all-new Honda Connect infotainment system, including digital and internet radio, Bluetooth, internet browsing, satellite navigation and parking camera, is intuitive to use with a large, high-level screen.

The C R-V also debuts Honda’s intelligent-adaptive cruise control which predicts and reacts to vehicles cutting in to the CR-V’s lane.

Equipment and value

Given the amount of standard equipment you get in S, SE, SR and EX trims the CR-V can justify its price tag against some premium rivals in the class.

It may not be the classiest SUV but you know exactly what you are getting – Honda’s fine technology and reliability – and that counts for a lot with its loyal customers.

Final say

The CR-V is one of the better-looking, better-driving SUVs and, with this latest model, Honda has improved it in key areas that will make a difference and further enhance the ownership experience.

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