Honda CR-V: 'Honda has improved the CR-V in all the places it needed to in order to stay relevant'
The largest model in the Honda range, the CR-V is one of the world's best-selling SUVs. Around since 1995, it can claim to be one of the originals behind the whole crossover movement. Last year saw it get a bit of a facelift in line with the rest of the showroom, and the new company face sits surprisingly well on this larger model.
But has it improved sufficiently in the many other areas it needs to in order to compete in what has since become one of the most competitive segments in the market?
Performance & Running Costs
The 1.6l iDTEC diesel is now the sole engine on offer, available in either 120HP front wheel drive, or the more powerful 160 HP All-Wheel-Drive guise, the latter of which is also available with a nine speed automatic gearbox. Fuel economy has been improved as a result with the standard front wheel drive manual returning an impressive 64 miles to the gallon, and a reduction in CO2 emissions to just 115g/km means the annual motor tax bill stands at just €200.
As SUVs go the CR-V is one of the more enjoyable ones to drive – the slightly lower driving position giving it a more planted feel and producing less body roll around corners. It also manages to feel a good deal more powerful than its 120 HP. It's lively on take off and that short and sporty Honda gear shift makes for a surprisingly engaging drive. There is a slight trade off in comfort however as the firmer ride isn't as cosseting over rough surfaces as some rivals, but that may be good news to those who aren't fans of that sometimes bouncy SUV feel.
What’s in the cabin
The interior was also given a refresh with a noticeable improvement in the quality of the dashboard materials, and a much improved infotainment package in the new Honda Connect system. It remains one of the most spacious cabins in the class with the added practicality of Honda's 'magic seats' in the rear – which will fold flat with the pull of a lever to extend an already cavernous boot compartment.
Value for money
At €32,595 the entry level price may seem a little steep compared to some rivals (the Toyota RAV4 for example starts at under €30,000) but it does come very well equipped. Standard features on the entry level SE include dual zone climate control, alloy wheels and cruise control. The step up to the ES model for €2,320 will add the Honda Connect touchscreen, parking sensors and a reversing camera, as well as automatic lights and wipers and a leather bound steering wheel. Top of the range then is the EX model with full leather and a panoramic glass sunroof, although only available in All-Wheel Drive – won't give you much change from €46,000.
It scored the full five stars on the NCAP crash test, and the list of active safety features available has grown to include things like Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Blind Spot Monitoring.
While still a bit of an off-beat choice here, the tough Japanese build quality the badge represents should appeal to those looking for a real workhorse, and the improvements made with this facelift mean there's little to sacrifice in any other areas anymore either. Its long-lasting image should ensure strong resale values too.
After more than twenty years on the market, it's important to keep things fresh and Honda has improved the CR-V in all the places it needed to in order to stay relevant. The major obstacle they face is whether that will be enough to compete with the flood of exciting new contenders on the scene.