I have to admit to a feeling of vague resentment towards CR-Vs, ever since my parents chopped in their ancient Volvo (which I’d grown to love) for a spangly petrol Honda CR-V a few years ago.


There was nothing wrong with it, of course – it just felt a bit like a cuckoo in the nest.

But it didn’t take long in the latest generation of the Swindon-built 4×4 to allow me to jettison that old emotional baggage. The newest version of this 15-year-old model still has strong echoes of that original, though the current body shape (launched in 2007) looks meaner and less like a suburban soft-roader than previous ones.

With a new diesel engine and – for the first time – a diesel auto gearbox, Honda expects 9000 CR-Vs to be sold in the UK this year, a conservative estimate considering it sold 12,000 in 2009.

The new engine, first used in the Accord, replaces Honda’s i-CTDi and is claimed to be cleaner, more efficient and more responsive than before, with 62mph coming up in just 9.6 seconds. The company also says its new in-house auto transmission responds more positively to driver commands and loses the characteristic lurch when using kick-down.

Thanks to its low centre of gravity, the CR-V holds corners well and (for a diesel auto) the acceleration is pretty punchy. Fuel consumption? I always aim for the book combined figure, even though with most 4x4s I’m usually disappointed. On a run to The Netherlands and back, the Honda averaged in the late 30s – not bad, but not the claimed 43.5mpg either.

Build quality is good, as you’d expect on a Honda, and the engineers seem to have put a lot of effort into getting the small interior details right. Cubby-holes are as plentiful as pigeons on a juicy rape crop and in the boot there’s a clever dual-deck shelf system which effectively doubles your storage.

Parking sensors are standard on the ES and EX models, and on the plushest variants there’s a parking camera system too. Images from the two bumper-mounted cameras are shown on the sat nav screen, but the cameras needed demisting in frosty weather. If you get a friend to do that for you, be prepared for some alarming close-ups appearing on the screen…

The 1.5t towing capacity on the auto version was a little disappointing, especially if this is supposed to be a Freelander-beater. However hitching up to a stockbox full of sheep (don’t tell Honda) didn’t present any problems. You could always stick some lambs on the dual decks in the boot if you ran out of space…

FW verdict:

Sophisticated five-speed auto box is a pleasure to drive, and car-like drive quality means it’s at home on the school run or running up and down farm tracks. It would do for taking the odd sheep to market too, now and then.

Honda CR-V

 

Engine

2.2 i-DTEC

Model

SE

Power

150hp at 4000rpm

Claimed fuel economy (combined)

43.5mpg

Towing capacity

1500kg (2000kg with manual gearbox)

Price

Entry level £23,075 (model tested: £29,595)

 

The Rivals

Land Rover Freelander

 

Model

S Spec

Engine

2.2 TD4

Power

160hp

Fuel economy

42.2mpg

Towing capacity

2000kg

Price

£21,295

Nissan X-Trail

 

Model

Acenta

Engine

2.0 dCi

Power

173hp

Fuel economy

38.2mpg

Towing capacity

2000kg

Price

£23,445

 

Toyota
RAV 4

 

Model

XT-R

Engine

2.0-litre VVT-i

Power

156hp

Fuel economy

37.7mpg

Towing capacity

1500kg

Price

£23,586

 

Volkswagen Tiguan

 

Model

S

Engine

2-litre TDi

Power

140hp

Fuel economy

47.9mpg

Towing capacity

2500kg

Price

£22,230