Typical, isnít it. Just as soon as Iíve got my mitts on the key to our long-term Honda, itís time for it to go back. It took some prising to get the ignition key away from Andy Goodwin, but in the final weeks I managed to convince him that it was a good idea for someone else to give another opinion on the CR-V, rather than him hogging it all to himself.
Iíve been a bit of an admirer of the Honda brand ever since my wife, then girlfriend, bought herself a Civic Hawaii hatchback back in the 1990s. It looked smart, was hugely dependable, and good to drive. So now with the keys to our long-term CR-V in my grubby paws, itís time to reacquaint myself with the marque, to see if this car can live up to the fond memories. Iíve had the odd day with a variety of different Honda models, but havenít run one for any length of time.
So with a line drawn under Andy Goodwinís ownership, here are my closing thoughts on Hondaís largest SUV. And at more than 4.6 metres long, itís a little larger than the current crop of medium sports utility vehicles, and while it may look similar in proportions to a Volkswagen Tiguan, itís actually nearer in size to Land Roverís Discovery Sport. But this all means that thereís an astounding amount of space inside, no matter which chair you are sat in. In particular, thereís bags of headroom, and in the back, adults can spread out in the knowledge that thereís generous levels of knee, leg and foot space. Open the tailgate, and owners are treated to a vast amount of cargo capacity, too, with 589 litres with the chairs in the upright position, and 1,669 litres with them cleverly folded down flat. And while we didnít get the chance to go away on holiday in the CR-V like Andy did, we more than made up for it with the weekly shop.
One reservation that I had was quickly put to rest, and that was the ability for the 158bhp 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine to haul the car and its passengers along. Modest cubic capacity means nothing when youíve got a powerplant that is so flexible and punchy. Use the right pedal liberally and you can get a real gallop on, but even if you do, it doesnít seem to harm the fuel economy too much, which has stuck at around 43mpg since I took possession of the keys. And the six-speed manual transmission is such a neat companion, slotting into gear nice and smoothly. Colleagues have experienced the nine-speed automatic transmission before, and while nice, they have said that they prefer the more engaging driving experience of the manual gearbox.
First impressions of the cabin, having coming out of the SEAT Ateca, was something of a culture shock. Moving from a cutting-edge infotainment screen to something that looks more aftermarket than anything else took some getting used to. On first acquaintance, the system appears dated and clunky, but familiarity with the system improves things somewhat. All of the major controls are well thought and placed high up on the dashboard, which combines well with the lofty driving position. Big mirrors give a good view out, though thick pillars, together with a relatively small rear window, make the reversing camera a necessity. When youíve got a couple of rugrats to load and unload each time you get in and out of the car, access to the rear chairs is very important, and thanks to wide opening rear doors, itís a piece of cake.
But best of all, I like the way it looks, avoiding the bland, slab-sided looks of many of the Hondaís rivals. The latest model may have been on sale for a couple of years now its current guise, but it still looks fresh and new. Honda enthusiasts will know that the replacement for this CR-V has already been revealed on the other side of the world in America, but it wonít be shown in European guise until next spring at the Geneva motor show. Even then, it wonít arrive until the end of 2018, and thereís a good chance that it may spill over into 2019. That means that thereís still a good reason for buying the current CR-V, and judging by my few weeks with the car, I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone taking the plunge.
Date arrived 25th August 2016
Fuel economy 51.4/60.1/55.4mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 43.3mpg (on test)
Really perky performance, especially for an engine that has a cubic capacity of just 1597cc.
Rear visibility isn’t brilliant.