Honda knows how to make a good diesel engine. After refusing for years through the 1990s to even consider developing one, during the last decade its bosses relented. Under the bonnet of this 2015 CR-V is the latest – and frankly the greatest – of that family line.
Not much has changed on the face of things, with the recognisable Honda styling continuing almost unchanged into the new model year. Honda’s image is more about reliability, dependability and safety. On that front the firm is doing rather well, with its cars having been revealed in a recent ownership survey as being the most reliable on British roads. Anyone who thinks that’s a bad thing needs their head examining.
Inside the CR-V the boot is perhaps not as large in the real world as you might hope, thanks to two large wheel arch intrusions at the sides of the luggage bay. They inevitably end up scratched whenever you put really large items in, like mountain bikes, so you’re better off using the roof rails to mount a rack for your bulky lifestyle add-ons.
The doors open wide, the chunky and comfortable seats are easy to slide onto even if your knees are past their best, and the mountain of headroom is exaggerated by the panoramic sunroof of this range-topping EX model, which sucks light into the space to make it feel even bigger than it really is.
The CR-V instantly marks its territory with its size. It’s a big thing, make no mistake. It’s not one for those nervous about parking, although there are automated systems and a brilliantly clear reversing camera to help out there.
Overall, its most impressive facet, even including the build quality and sense of solidity, is its engine. This higher-powered of the two 1.6 i-DTEC engines in the range coughs up an amazing 160 horsepower. In the real world it translates to much stronger acceleration than you’d probably expect. You’ll need to be very gentle and forward-thinking with it if you want to break the 50mpg barrier, though.
It rides well; settled at all times and able to deal with the worst potholes without injuring your back. It’s also incredibly stable, tracking true even when pushed through fast corners.
The displays and menu systems are all a bit old-hat and not all that clear, though, which removes some of the polish from the overall impression.
Although it’s four-wheel drive you’ll never really notice it working unless you frequently drive up wet grassy hills. The big Honda can tow up to two tonnes though, so for horsey types or caravan owners this could be the CR-V you really need to go for.
Honda has made the CR-V many things, but in doing so it seems to have overlooked affordability. This flagship strays into premium car territory, but to justify its transgression it does pack a whole load more equipment than a similarly-priced Audi or Mercedes.
There are impressively low-CO2 versions if that’s your thing, but the EX model does rather bring a general flavour of loveliness that, once you’ve tasted it, you won’t want to be without.
Active grandparents have traditionally been big fans of the CR-V, and for good reason. They can trade in their older premium saloon for this and have a more comfortable drive, a better view of the road and benefit from all that kiddy-friendly space in the back. Ultimately this is a spacious family car that will give you everyday practicality, bags of technology and peerless peace of mind.
honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC 160 EX Price: £32,470
Engine: 1.6 turbodiesel, 158bhp, 266lb/ft
Transmission: Six-speed manual driving all four wheels
Performance: Top speed 122mph, 0-62mph in 9.9secs
efficiency: Combined 55.4mpg