Review: Honda CR-V
MOST compact 4x4 buyers want something safe, stylish, reliable and economical. If it drives well, is generously equipped and offers a choice of two- and four-wheel drive, so much the better. The recipe for the success of Honda's CR-V is a keen understanding of buyer requirements and an almost neurotic attention to detail. Hence why this, the fourth-generation, version just can't fail.
There are some quite fundamental changes to this the latest CR-V's oily bits. The big one is that you can now buy a CR-V in either front or all-wheel drive with the 2.0-litre 155PS i-VTEC petrol engine, while the flagship 2.2-litre 150PS i-DTEC diesel unit continues sending drive to each corner. A very clever electrically assisted power steering works in concert with the car's stability control system to initiate counter steering in the event of a skid.
Honda believes that the majority of CR-Vs sold will continue to be all-wheel-drive models, and with a run of bad winters behind us, it's easy to see why. The hydraulically activated "dual-pump" system of the third-generation CR-V has been replaced by an electronically activated set-up that provides a faster response when a loss of traction is detected. It also reduces weight by 17% and minimizes internal friction by 59%. Hill Start Assist is standard across the range and stops the vehicle rolling backwards during hill starts. Hill Descent Control makes its debut on the CR-V and is available on automatic versions. It operates at up to 5mph and helps the CR-V descend difficult terrain safely and consistently.
The CR-V's ride quality has been improved without compromising its car-like handling or high-speed stability. Care has also been taken to achieve a significant reduction in the engine and road noise entering the cabin. Sound insulation and absorption material has been increased and the doors now also feature a double seal. The net result is a 3dB reduction in cabin noise compared to the outgoing car.
It's hard to see how Honda can miss with this fourth generation CR-V. To be honest, not a lot really needed changing. The engines have been tweaked for better efficiency and it looks a good deal better inside and out.
It still only seats five, but moving to a seven-seat body would have meant upsizing this vehicle considerably: five million CR-V sales to date indicate that Honda's customers don't want that. Yes, there are more dynamic and exciting SUVs for sale, but in a maturing market place that's increasingly defined by what the vehicle can do rather than what it says, the CR-V looks set to remain the boss.