Saturday 29 November 2014

Tired of bad TV? Then hit the road in Honda's smooth SUV

Published 02/12/2012 | 06:00

I nearly have the flick switch on the zapper for the TV worn to a frazzle. Lord, life is as empty as the schedule when you are couch-bound. What a load of codswallop passes for television, entertainment, sport and 'educational'.

Give me a few re-runs of Father Ted, Fawlty Towers and Two-and-a-Half Men any day over the brash, low-budget trash that I'm storming through like the amber gambler driver in Lesson St the other night.

By the way, the schedules are infested with cookery programmes.

Everywhere you look there's some hyped-up guru saying everything is fantastic. It's not.

In the midst of it all, I managed to get a decent bit of time to try out the latest Honda CR-V. We used to call it an SUV but it's now known much more as a 'soft-roader' which, in one of modernity's great clichés, means it is more 'car-like' to drive. It has been and remains one of the more pleasant of its genre on the tarmac. There is no doubt about that. The bad, sore back was so, so glad of that, especially the big aperture afforded by its open door.

And, you know, to an extent the CR-V is like the TV 'reliables'. In a morass of choice, it is something that manages to hold its own no matter how many repeat performances you demand of it.

There was a distinctly comfortable, easy-drive feel to it. That is the sort of feedback you get from a motor with tyres that suit it (you would be surprised at how often wrong choices are made), a suspension set-up that's tuned to a specific pliancy and an engine/gearbox combination that gives you smooth rather than dynamic performance.

So, I'd have to say, so far so good. I really enjoyed it and felt at ease.

But don't go thinking this is some sort of homage to it. Yes, I liked it and always have. I always put it on a shortlist of preferences. And they have managed to knock a good bit off the price but to my way of thinking, regardless of what it embodies, it is still costly compared to what some of its rivals are offering.

I can, momentarily, set that aside because I'm not about to buy one. But I'm sure you can't and it is a real consideration.

So that balances things more than a bit.

The cabin is big and comfortable but by no means salubrious. It now has an electronically activated 'All Wheel Drive' (AWD) system. And that undoubtedly helped give it better grip – and more quickly – when it detected a loss of traction. That's a big thing, especially for these winter months on wet and slippery roads. I didn't, under the circumstances, go off road with it.

It is a bit lower (30mm) but cabin space remains more than decent and the lower centre of gravity probably helped handling a little. I didn't need to, but if I wanted a lot of carrying space I could have turned down the rear seats – at the pull of a handle.

The 2.2-litre diesel we know so well now. It had deep reserves of pulling power but I'm glad to see Honda is thinking of expanding a bit. It will have a 1.6-litre diesel by this time next year. There will also be a two-wheel-drive option. Both developments should help cut costs and make this a less pricey, if worthy, contender for your money.

I don't think I can forecast with equal confidence that the outlook is as optimistic for the TV schedules.

Indo Motoring

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