The Honda CR-V has received a make-over for the European market in 2015 and it has to be said, they have done a fine job. Now in its fourth generation, it offers more space, power, connectivity and safety systems than before, but reliability and practicality still lies at the core.
In the metal, it would be fair to say that the revamped CR-V is a much more handsome car. I use that word because it now looks and feels more masculine than previous models. The front end is more aggressive than before featuring slanted wrap around headlights with slick daytime running LED lights, a chrome grille and redesigned front bumper. At the rear, slight changes are a welcomed touch too. While these changes may add up to be modest tweaks, aesthetically, it is a big improvement.
Climbing inside there is an instant feeling of quality about the CR-V interior. Its streamlined dashboard takes a ‘less is more’ approach with a practically button-less centre console while all of the controls are housed within a 7 inch touch screen mounted in the centre of the dash. While this may look good, the trade-off is quite a clunky system. Having to agree to ‘terms’ before using its menu every time you turn the key to go somewhere was a tad annoying, while selecting certain functions often took more than one touch. The rest of the interior however is a combination of robustness and style. Our test car was the top of the range EX model which comes with comforts such as leather upholstery with heated front seats complete with electrical adjustment on the driver side, keyless entry and start, a cool panoramic glass roof (which the kids loved), dynamic safety pack, a power boot-lid and upgraded sound system complete with sub-woofer and DAB radio. Of course it has all of the latest in smartphone connectivity including Bluetooth, USB and a 12V charging point.
The interior feels vast and there is acres of room in the rear, while getting the kids in and out is effortless thanks to wide opening rear doors. The CR-V is also massively practical for this reason making it one of the best family cars I have lived with for some time. It has one of the biggest boots in its class totalling 589 litres that swallowed both of the kids bikes with ease. The rear bench is arranged with a 60/40 split which can be folded flat to create a massive 1669 litres should you require this cavern of space. There is plenty of storage too for everyday items between the large storage bin beneath the centre armrest or the door pockets for mobile phones or kiddy related parfinalia.
Driving the CR-V is a pleasant experience. Its driving position is naturally elevated while the large front seats allow for a comfortable driving position. Our test model was fitted with the new 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine putting out 160bhp which is a very responsive unit. It replaces the outgoing 2.2 diesel, but power is however up by 10bhp. It feels punchier too, but most importantly it is more economical. The car was fitted with the 6-speed manual option, which being a Honda, is always a pleasure to drive. Their manual transmissions are one of the most enjoyable to run through with a lovely notchy mechanical feel to each gear change. The combination of the new engine, the 6-speed manual and the All Wheel Drive (AWD) system on the EX model results in a machine that never lacks power or traction. That said, the steering is quite light but sharp, which many might feel is probably a good thing in a compact SUV of this size, but it could add a little more weight to it. The ride is supple, soaking up lumps and bumps well, while the new 1.6 remains smooth and refined all the way through the rev range. You can specify a 9-speed auto transmission if you are so inclined, but the combination of pace from the new diesel engine and manual is more enjoyable.
The Honda CR-V range is available in four specifications SE, ES, ES Sport and the EX and with three variants of the 1.6 i-DTEC engine. These include a 120bhp Front wheel drive, a 160bhp AWD manual and the 160bhp AWD automatic. Prices range from €31,995 for the 1.6 i-DTEC 120 FWD to €46,995 for the 160bhp AWD EX auto. Entry models come well equipped with dual-zone climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth, AUX, daytime running LED lights and 17” alloy wheels.
In terms of family practicality, the CR-V is very hard to beat and while it is overall built for comfort and reliability, you can still have some fun if you opt for the lovely 6-speed manual.