I thought I was about to join their ranks when I took over the Honda CR-V as a long-termer.
But in fact, the Honda comes across as a modest, refined wallflower compared to its more roughshod cousins.
To my mind, it has all the advantages of a 4x4 – high-visibility seating position, versatile and generous load-carrying and the ability to get from A to B whatever the conditions – but none of the disadvantages.
It is car-like and quiet to drive, economical to run and has none of those embarrassingly macho accoutrements such as bullbars or roof-mounted spotlights.
It looks the part for any occasion – suave enough for a night out on the town but rugged enough for a camping trip. I have so far used it for a cycling weekend in France, transporting students back to university and using the efficient sat-nav to negotiate a complicated route.
I love the way the interior provides space for everything you could possibly need – even a handbag, frequently ignored by (supposedly male) car designers.
Normally, the bag is kicked around in the footwell if there’s a passenger in the front seat or inconveniently consigned to the boot or back seat. But in the CR-V, it fits between the seats under a folding tray which serves as a handy perch for sunglasses, keys or drink bottle.
As for fuel economy, I can’t believe it’s still returning nearly 40mpg even though it has been driven on short trips only for the past couple of weeks.
If really pressed to find something negative to say about it, my only gripe might be that the firmness of the seats makes them slightly uncomfortable on a long drive. You seem to sit on top of the driver’s seat rather than in it and its lack of side support means I ended up with backache after a two-hour trip.
On the subject of the rear bicycle carrier mentioned in our last long-term test report, Honda has now ceased production of that particular rack and substituted a roof-mounted carrier which promises to be cheaper and less bulky.
Model: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-CTDi Executive
Price (OTR): £22,800
CO2 emissions (g/km): 177
Company car tax bill (2005/6): 40% tax-payer £166 a month
Insurance group: 12E
Combined mpg: 42.2
Test mpg: 38.7
CAP Monitor residual value: £9,800/43%
Typical contract hire rate: £438
Figures based on three-years/60,000-miles