In some ways, I had to work a little harder to write this review of Honda’s newest CR-V Touring because, even as I tried to find something surprising or unexpected, it was exactly as I had envisaged it and precisely how I remember the last CR-V I drove.
That’s not to say it hasn’t improved or that it’s not an immensely likeable compact SUV, but it sums up the consistency of Honda.
Subdued and under the radar, Honda doesn’t shout as loudly as its fans would like, yet it always delivers a quality product that does what it says on the tin. The CR-V Touring is no exception.
The Touring version is the flagship of the 12 CR-V models, and has all-wheel drive as standard along with additional features such as LED headlights, fog lamps, paddle shifters, a 7.0-inch nav screen, eight speakers, four USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual-zone AC and 18-inch alloy wheels above the long list of features on the models below.
While other markets get the 1.5-litre engine and its parallel hybrid system, the Middle East runs a more conventional, direct injection, 2.4-litre combustion engine.
Developing 181bhp at 6,400rpm and 244Nm of torque at 3,900rpm, it’s more powerful than its US and UK counterparts but keeps the same CVT transmission.
The benefit of CVT is sensational fuel economy, but it comes at the expense of driver engagement. However, in this instance, Honda has done its best to give it more feel in Sport mode by adding seven torque bands to give the impression of running through a regular transmission.
Leave it in Drive and step on the accelerator to overtake and it will annoy the purists as its revs soar, only to remain pinned until you lift off again. For those who can blank out the engine noise, it’s a smooth, shift-free experience that leaves you counting the savings at the bowser.
Suspension is unsurprisingly soft given its urban-commuter mandate, but push it a bit harder and it will reward with nicely weighted steering that’s effortlessly compliant over most surfaces, taking speed bumps in its stride.
There is body roll, but it’s not wallowy and although there is some wind noise around the pillars, it’s not overly intrusive, either. Of course, the CR-V is not built for weekend blasts, but should you get going, it’s remarkably capable of giving you enough warning of the impending understeer on the way.
Convenience is king
Visibility is great, especially at intersections or while pulling out of driveways, thanks to the thin A-pillars that normally block your three-quarter view. The deep front-side windows and large door mirrors also make it easy to see out the sides.
Additionally, the CR-V Touring includes front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard. Like the Civic, it has the brilliant LaneWatch camera that comes on with the indicators when changing lanes to cover the blind spot.
Finding the perfect driving position shouldn’t be an issue with an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat and four-way powered lumbar support. There’s also a good range of adjustment for the steering column’s height and reach as you face a large, sensible and mostly digital instrument cluster.
It’s the same unit used in the Civic, with stowage spaces and places to plug in electronic gadgets around it, and is easy to read while the rest of the dash buttons are big and well placed.
Soft-touch plastics and leather on the upper areas of the CR-V’s interior give an air of quality throughout, with leather stitched door trims and gloss black panels.
The 7.0-inch touchscreen could be larger in line with its competition, but it does take Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to mirror off your phone and run through eight speakers.
Storage and internal space management is excellent, with a redesigned centre console that’s easier to use, a wireless phone charging pad and a decent-sized centre armrest in the front.
Underneath, there is a slidable tray offering enough space for a notebook computer. On the downside, the door bins are a bit narrow and the glovebox only big enough for, literally, the proverbial pair of gloves.
Even with a full-length sunroof, headroom is excellent for tall people. The rear offers loads of foot space under the front seats and shoulder room for adults to rival the best in class. There are more USB ports in the rear for the kids and the 60:40 split-fold seat folds flat for long loads.
The squabs drop into the footwell, so the seatbacks can drop flush with the cargo floor and as there’s no load lip at the rear, it’s perfect for sliding long boxes or a cupboard in easily.
Handy levers next to the powered tailgate make dropping the back seat a one-touch operation, while the powered tailgate has hands-free access and includes a button to set it to a lower opening height for low-clearance garages.
Other cool features in the cargo area are hooks on either side to tie loose items down and a 12v power outlet parked near the tailgate opening.
Safety features include vehicle stability assist, traction control, tyre pressure monitoring, hill start assist, electric brake force distribution, front, side and curtain airbags.
The Honda CR-V has always been dependable and this latest model brings it into line with the latest safety gear and comfort features mixed with practical touches that have always set the brand apart. It’s economical, roomy, comfortable and decent to drive. Just as I thought before I collected the keys.