Honda is quite rightly proud of the fact their CR-V, first launched all the way back in 1995, has gone on to become the world’s best-selling SUV.

Back then, the Honda found itself largely in a market of one.  Today, however, the world and his dog are making SUVs, and to quote Lauren Bacall: “standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world.”

Luckily for Honda, there are many things the CR-V has always done very well.

For starters, it’s always been a comfortable thing.  The seats offer a wide range of adjustment and there’s a touch more hip- and headroom than before, while rear seat passengers gain an extra 50mm of legroom.

For the first time the CR-V is now available as a seven-seater, with third row occupants subjected to only minor clambering thanks to second row seats that slide forward and wide-opening rear doors.

It’s a practical beast, too.  The boot offers a van-like 1,756 litres all told, while levers in the boot walls drop the rear seats in one easy motion, making that space easy to access, too.

Top-spec models feature a power tailgate with a configurable height setting, and although the rear seats don’t sit completely flat once folded, the wide tailgate aperture and low lip making loading a doddle.

And then there are the countless little practical touches that dot the interior: the wide-angle mirror that drops down from the ceiling so parents can keep an eye on unruly children; the multiple USB charging points, even for those in the back; the sliding tray under the centre armrest that can accommodate goodies of all sizes; and the unusually large door pockets.

These are the features that don’t sound particularly sexy in a glossy brochure but they soon add up, creating a faithful family wagon that helps you get on with your journey without worrying about the little stuff.

The CR-V is likely to keep you safe while you’re on the road, too.  This new model boasts the most comprehensive range of electro-safety gubbins ever fitted to a CR-V, with Forward Collision Warning, Collision Mitigation, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition and Adaptive Cruise Control standard across the range.

Models further up the range benefit from Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Monitor, too, so it’s perhaps not surprising that Euro NCAP have just awarded it the full five stars.

Some of these systems can be a little annoying at times, however.  We found the Forward Collision Warning to be a little jittery, the Adaptive Cruise Control a touch lurchy in traffic, and the Traffic Sign Recognition prone to forgetting the prevailing speed limit even when the satnav knew exactly what it was.

In fact, if there’s one area where the CR-V has lost ground to its competitors, it’s the infotainment system.  Slow, unresponsive, and rather unappealing graphically, it’s a long way behind any recent Volvo, for example.  The Garmin navigation app is particularly disappointing for a car at this price-point.

A hybrid model is available but there’s no diesel option, which might disappoint those of a caravanning persuasion.  That leaves the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol to cover the bulk of the range, delivering 173ps on manual models or 193ps when matched with the CVT.

As with most CVT units, there’s the inescapable feeling of an engine being kept at the other end of a long piece of elastic.  The 1.5 is rather prone to filling the cabin with a surprisingly coarse droning, too, shattering the CR-V’s otherwise calm and comfortable demeanour.  CVT models are thirstier than their manual counterparts, recording 31.7 mpg on the WLTP combined cycle, although on a longer journey we managed to achieve a more respectable 35 mpg.

As a driving experience, the CR-V is perhaps best described as thoroughly inoffensive.  It’s comfortable and predictable, but hard to fall in love with, although it’s likely that’s exactly what Honda was aiming for.  And, perhaps, what many people want from their family SUV.  A little less road- and engine noise wouldn’t go amiss, though, nor would a little tightening of lateral body movements as it can feel a little unsettled at times.

Prices for the new Honda CR-V start at £25,995 while our EX CVT test car weighed in at a fiver over £37,000.

Tester’s Notes

  • Typically practical touches abound in well-packaged cabin.
  • Engine emits a coarse grumble into the cabin.
  • Ride occasionally unsettled with noticeable lateral body movements.
  • Infotainment feels clumsy and behind the curve.
  • Forward Collision Warning prone to unnecessary alerts, Adaptive Cruise Control makes too many speed changes, Traffic Sign Recognition loses speed limit.
  • Seatbelt buckle hard to reach, auto-retractors can be annoying when trying to fasten seatbelt.
  • Uncomfortable hard edge to centre armrest.
  • 35 mpg on test.
Entry-level Price£25,995Price as tested£37,005
Engine1498cc 4-cyl turbo petrolTransmissionCVT
Power193ps @ 5,600rpmTorque243Nm @ 2-5,000rpm
0-6210.0 secsTop speed124 mph
Economy31.7 mpgCO2162 g/km
Dimensions4600 x 1855 x 1689 (LxWxH)Kerb Weight1705 kg

Alex

Editor

Freelance journalist, ex-offroad driving instructor and long distance road-tripper. If you have any questions about this piece, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter.