Honda CR-V: Will absence make the heart go ‘Honda’?

  • Practical, spacious family-centric crossover
  • Economical diesel powerplant impressed
  • Disappointingly little to be wowed about

As I’ve reported elsewhere, despite my best to indoctrinate them in all things automotive, my kids just aren’t into cars. The only time they show more than a modicum of interest is if whatever I’ve brought home falls into that nigh-on-impossible-to-define category of 'cool'.

Doing my best to distract them from whatever was on the telly, I asked them if they fancied a ride in Gareth’s long-term CR-V I’d brought home to sample. There was a cursory glance out of the window at the Honda, before in unison their gaze was refixed on the TV. My middle one’s “nah” was seemingly agreed with by the other two telepathically.

Thing is, they may have a point, because looks-wise, there’s little about this fourth generation CR-V to set pulses racing.

Its attraction is more than skin deep, though, the wide door apertures and high seating positions offering the kind of ease of access that becomes a Godsend when manoeuvring infants and their baby seats betwixt car and house. That the CR-V offers this without looking like a blancmange-shaped people carrier will appeal considerably though.

The interior is spacious and comfortable for five, with no apparent vices in terms of long-journey comfort. It’s all logically presented, although it lacks the Civic’s tech-heavy verve, making do with a range of analogue instruments and two colour display screens.

I’m being picky but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of design cohesion, with noticeably different fonts and styles for the different banks of switches, knobs and dials.

Around the back the boot’s large for most families’ kit and caboodle, the long-term Honda fitted with a useful plastic boot liner, great for keeping muck and small toy components from getting everywhere.

Adding to the CR-V’s flexibility are Honda’s renowned ‘Magic Seats’ in the back, whereby the seat base flips up to create a partitioned area, ample enough for a push bike to fit in. If you were so inclined, that is.

One nice touch is the deeply-set boot release handle at the base of the tailgate. The idea is by having the release handle tucked away keeps your hands free from road grime that’s clarted up the back, but I kept forgetting where it was and grabbed under the (dirty) number plate plinth, somewhat defeating the object. My stupidity doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea though.

On the road, the front-wheel drive CR-V rides comfortably, if a little too bouncily for my tastes, while the much-vaunted 1.6-litre i-DTEC motor sips diesel at a parsimonious rate – there was an indicated mid-50s mpg on the trip computer on my 148-mile round trip commute, helped by the green ‘Econ’ button which encouraged fuel-saving measures like a duller throttle response and stop/start when at a stand-still.

The only fly in the ointment driving-wise is the torque steer, which pulls the steering wheel this way and that under hard acceleration from low speeds. It's particularly disconcerting on roundabouts.

Overall impressions from my brief CR-V experience? It’s easy to live with, practical and a doddle to drive, just a bit too anonymous for my tastes. I suspect more of its qualities become apparent the more you’re immersed in Honda ownership, as Gareth’s reviews suggest.

Mileage: 4,202

Fuel economy: 47.4mpg