|Image gallery (please click on thumbnails)|
IT IS a truth almost universally acknowledged that most SUV drivers simply never head off road, so full marks to Honda for realising that its new CR-V didn’t need the capability to plough up to its axles in mud.
Instead, it has made the CR-V perhaps the most refined SUV on-road, and in the process created a car which stands out as an ideal choice for user-choosers who want the chunky looks of an off-roader but want the car to be easy to live with when they drive on business.
The old CR-V – winner of the Small SUV title at last year’s Fleet News Awards – set the benchmark in the class and the new version makes a huge leap forward over it.
Not only is the car quieter, more refined and better to drive, it also benefits from a fresh new look inside and out, lower CO2 emissions (173g/km compared to 177, dropping the car by a benefit-in-kind tax band) and improved fuel economy – up by 1.3mpg to 43.5 on the combined cycle). So company car drivers will not only enjoy lower company car tax bills and more miles to the tank, but the whole experience has been improved.
Under the bonnet of our test car was the 2.2-litre i-CTDi turbodiesel which is carried over from before, offering 140bhp and 251lb-ft of torque.
It’s one of the most refined diesels on the market with little in the way of diesel clatter at start-up and low noise and vibration levels while on the move.
Thanks to that decent amount of torque the CR-V feels much sprightlier than before – in driving terms, it feels more like an estate car than an SUV.
The six-speed manual gearbox is slick, as you would expect from a Honda, and offers positive shifts through a fairly short-throw lever.
But it is the handling which really impresses in this car. The centre of gravity isn’t as high as before and this contributes to a far more planted feel. Where the old model would roll around in corners, the new CR-V stays remarkably flat and composed during cornering.
The ride is on the firm side and rutted roads send a shudder through the cabin, while the steering is over-assisted. However, the CR-V does turn in sharply.
The reworked interior follows the same basic architecture as before, with the gearlever mounted on the bottom of the centre console with a large colour screen above it. The materials used on the dashboard and door trims are first rate, and you just know this car is still going to feel tight after a typical fleet life.
For now the CR-V reigns supreme as the best small SUV on the market, but 2007 is the year of new launches in this sector. It will be interesting to see if Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Citroën, Peugeot, Mitsubishi et al can topple the CR-V from its perch.
P11D value: £19,802
CO2 emissions (g/km): 173
BIK % of P11D in 2007: 24%
Graduated VED rate: £160
Insurance group: 12
Combined mpg: 43.5
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £9,025/46%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k) £371
We don’t like:
Three rivals to consider
THE main difference is in wheels. The CR-V has 17-inch steel wheels with plastic covers while the rest have alloys – 17-inch in the case of the RAV4 and 16-inchers on the Freelander and X-trail. The RAV4 and CR-V have air-conditioning, while the others have climate control.
Emissions and tax rates
THE Nissan’s lowest front-end price is wiped out by having the highest emissions. It will cost a 40% taxpayer £197 a month in benefit-in-kind tax, £4 a month more than the Land Rover. The Honda and Toyota lead the way, costing £158 and £161 a month respectively.
WITH a likely bill of £2,500 over 60,000 miles, the CR-V is only just behind its Accord upper-medium saloon sibling in terms of service, maintenance and repair. The Nissan leads the way, costing around £2,300, while the RAV4 is most expensive on £2,600.
X-trail: 3.81 (pence per mile) £2,286 (60,000 miles total)
CR-V: 4.28 £2,568
Freelander: 4.42 £2,652
RAV4: 4.44 £2,664
DESPITE being a four-wheel drive SUV the Honda scores highly here, with the firm claiming the CR-V will return an average of 43.5mpg. This equates to a fuel spend of £5,766 over 60,000 miles. The Toyota will return 42.8mpg, the Land Rover 37.7mpg and the Nissan 37.2.
CR-V: 9.61 (pence per mile) £5,766 (60,000 miles total)
RAV4: 9.77 £5,862
Freelander: 11.09 £6,654
X-trail: 11.24 £6,744
THE Honda, Toyota and Land Rover top the RV chart with CAP estimating they will all retain 46% of their cost new after three years/60,000 miles, but the CR-V’s lower front-end price sees it lose less cash. The Nissan is the old man of the group, reflected by its RV forecast of 38%.
CR-V: 17.96 (pence per mile) £10,776 (60,000 miles total)
RAV4: 18.11 £10,866
Freelander: 18.71 £11,226
X-trail: 20.56 £12,336
THE Honda wins thanks to sector-leading performances in terms of fuel cost and depreciation. The Toyota runs it close in second place but the Land Rover and Nissan are well adrift. The Freelander’s higher front-end price counts against it, while the X-trail suffers for its RV.
CR-V: 31.85 (pence per mile) £19,110 (60,000 miles total)
RAV4: 32.32 £19,392
Freelander: 34.22 £20,532
X-trail: 35.61 £21,366
THE Honda is the cheapest to run, costs the least in company car tax and is also good to drive. It’s also the latest model to arrive on the market which is a key appeal among fashion-conscious owners. The Freelander2 is peerless for off-road ability, although it is expensive, while the Nissan is by far the oldest car of this group, and looks it. The Toyota runs the Honda close in most areas, although it lacks the on-road polish which the CR-V offers – essential as most of these cars are driven solely on Tarmac.
Video - click on the play symbol