Apparently the target customer for the new CR-V is a young family, with Honda going so far as saying it wants “more yummy mummies driving this car”.
Pretty apt then that I’ve just swapped out of our long-term Mazda MX-5 into the CR-V as an impending new arrival looms in the Barry household.
The popularity of SUVs among the school run brigade is greater than ever. I pass two primary schools on my journey to work and the 4x4s nearly outnumber the saloons and estates.
It’s not difficult to understand why so many mums choose them.
The high driving position feels safer, improvements in design mean a less wallowy drive than these cars used to have, and fuel economy and CO2 emissions for many of the leading marques match those produced by more conventional hatchbacks.
The second generation CR-V was already pretty good on the road but Honda has increased cornering agility, created a saloon-like ride quality and improved stability on the new model.
The CR-V’s environmental credentials are strong. On our model, the diesel-powered 2.2 i-CTDi EX, economy and CO2 emissions are excellent.
Its combined cycle economy is 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 173g/km compare with the likes of the diesel Vauxhall Vectra and the Volkswagen Passat estates which both return 46.3mpg and 165g/km of CO2.
The more aerodynamic style of the new model helps towards an extra 1mpg on the fuel economy compared with the outgoing model.
The CR-V is available in three grades – the SE, ES and EX. Ours is the top-of-the range EX which means that on top of all the standard features of the SE and ES we get 18-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats, eight-way adjustable electric driver’s seat with lumbar support, DVD satellite navigation with Bluetooth hands-free telephone (HFT), rear-parking camera, premium stereo system and a panoramic glass roof.
The heated seats have been on every morning as temperatures have dipped and I’ve got to grips with the sat-nav system with no trouble apart from finding the option to exit navigation when you no longer need it.
This seems to be difficult to find on most systems and it’s usually hidden away in one of the sub-menus.
Maybe manufacturers should fit a simple button on the side of the unit which allows you to end route guidance more easily.
The rear parking camera is also very handy. It makes reverse parking so much easier and is backed up by a traditional parking sensor which means there can be no excuses for prangs.
Although I’m not sure you actually need both devices on the same car.
Our long termer features a host of acronyms comprising AFS, ACC, CMBS, ABS and HFT.
These translate to active front lighting, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking system, anti-lock braking system and hands-free telephone system.
The six-speed gearbox is slick and the position of the gearshift lever at the base of the centre console means there’s more front seat footroom.
Good news as the front seats are bigger with 10mm wider and 7mm longer bases, and 4mm wider and 27mm taller seat backs. Perfect for my expanding frame.
There’s also plenty of storage inside the well-built, stylish cabin.
A cavernous glovebox with additional lidded passenger tray on top, storage box for 24 CDs and plenty of cup holders will please Honda’s target customers.
One aspect of the CR-V I love is its Real Time 4WD system. This means the 4x4 function only comes into operation when required.
It does this automatically, without any input from the driver.
Most 4x4 owners, especially from the school run clan, would admit to not using the 4x4 switch on their SUV but the beauty of the CR-V is that if you need it, it kicks in of its own accord.
Honda has moved the spare wheel from the tailgate to under the floor in the boot and I think the CR-V looks much better – it’s sleeker, more stylish and will appeal to a younger crowd.
There’s not a lot I can pick fault with so far, as the revamped body styling is a huge improvement, it handles brilliantly and it is economical.
I am biased as I love 4x4s but I know I’m going to enjoy my time in the CR-V.
The manufacturer’s view
The Honda CR-V is the number one selling SUV in the UK as well as the number one SUV in the fleet sector for 2007.
Honda (UK) corporate sales are currently up 22% year-to-date and this is set to continue thanks to a healthy CR-V order bank.
Versatility is one of the car’s biggest strengths, and its success can also be attributed to its practicality, car-like handling and, of course, its environmental credentials – all of which stack up favourably for the corporate customer.
Harvey Hughes, manager – corporate operations, Honda (UK)
Equipment and options
Price (OTR): £26,717 (£27,092 as tested)
Company car tax bill (2007) 40% tax-payer: £213 per month
Insurance group: 13E
Combined mpg: 43.5
Test mpg: 40.6
CAP Monitor RV: £10,675/40%
Contract hire rate: £531
Expenditure to date: Nil
Figures based on three years/60,000 miles