Honda CR-V

Raft of updates promises to take British-built star to top of class.

SK most UK motorists to name a home-built 4x4, and chances are they’ll immediately think of Land Rover. But that isn’t the only choice if you want to make a patriotic purchase.

Made at Honda’s Swindon plant in Wiltshire, the CR-V is an established contender in the family friendly 4x4 class. Its recent update includes a new front bumper and grille, while more of the exterior plastics have been colour coded to provide an upmarket appearance.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Honda CR-V

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The changes are small and it’s still the standard of fit and finish, rather than the design, that makes the CR-V so attractive. It’s a similar story inside, where we can’t fault the quality of the cabin. The fabrics and plastics have been improved, which helps give the Honda the edge here.

Although the dash itself isn’t especially exciting to look at, the high-mounted gear selector is perfectly placed and the layout is easy to live with. Only the fiddly audio and navigation screen lets the side down.

Sit behind the steering wheel and there’s plenty of scope to adjust the driving position. The view out is excellent, too. The handbrake takes its inspiration from the throttle of a commercial airliner, and its neat design creates room between the front seats for a deep storage bin. A double glovebox also helps to provide plenty of stowage space inside. In the back, a completely flat floor and generous amounts of rear legroom mean passenger space is good, and the standard glass roof lets in lots of light.

The CR-V doesn’t have the extra seating capacity of the Hyundai and Peugeot. But thanks to its split/fold rear bench (40:20:40), which slides backwards and forwards, too, there’s a useful amount of flexibility. The boot is another strong point – the CR-V has the widest and longest luggage area of this quartet.

Hit the road and another of the latest updates is obvious. Sound-deadening has been improved, so with the new i-DTEC engine the Honda is the most refined choice. On the move, the unit is hushed, and only when the five-speed automatic gearbox kicks down do you really notice its diesel soundtrack. A power output of 148bhp ensures the Japanese model is closely matched with all its competitors here, bar the Hyundai. Yet the polished driving experience stands out more.

The ride is firm but well damped, so the CR-V copes admirably with lumps and bumps on the surface. On the motorway it’s stable and relaxed, while twisty roads reveal the talents of its impressive chassis.

Body control is good and the car turns in sharply, with a decent amount of feel through the steering wheel. Rounding off the dynamic package are strong brakes, as well as a 4WD system that delivered good traction in the snowy conditions. In EX trim, the Honda isn’t cheap, but it’s very well equipped – and incredibly capable.

Details

WHY: With a new engine and refreshed styling, the British-built CR-V is a solid, refined and practical contender.

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