Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX

AWD

MAYBE it's about time to coin another abbreviation for what's fast becoming Britain's favourite style of family car.

You guessed it - I'm talking about SUVs.

Mind you, with constant refinement and added comfort the go-anywhere, all-purpose workhorse is more Luxury Utility Vehicle than Sports Utility Vehicle these days...so how about LUV?!

This is particularly appropriate with Honda's all-conquering CR-V, one of the first models to jump on the bandwagon back in 1995.

In those days it was a hugely practical, but somewhat basic with a spare wheel stuck on the tailgate and an anonymous-looking frontage.

Today's car has presence, the trimmings of an executive saloon including full leather seating and sat-nav, and a magic carpet ride that ensures all but the worst surfaces are smoothed out. Of course, it remains just as user-friendly with a cavernous boot and loads of cabin space.

I drove the top EX version in all-wheel-drive form - it's also available as front drive only - with nine speed automatic transmission.

With a price tag of more than £33,000 it's hardly a snip but the Honda manages to tick all the boxes an outdoor-loving family may demand.

The 1.6-litre diesel isn't the smoothest of engines but it squeezes out a creditable 158bhp which endows the CR-V with ample power for swift cruising and overtaking.

Coupled with a nine speed automatic gearbox, it makes light work of long journeys with near imperceptible gear changes and an appropriate ration for just about every occasion.

Cornering is safe and predictable rather than sporty and there's a degree of roll if you are pressing on. The upside of this is that few jolts or bumps are passed on to the passengers.

Noise levels are pleasantly low thanks to good insulation and a relatively clean shape. It's only when the engine is revved hard that you are reminded of its diesel origins.

The cabin is well made, classy and spacious with solid-feeling switchgear and easy-to-read dials. The sat-nav and infotainment system isn't up there with latest state-of-the-art systems but it functions well enough.

Seats fronts and back are comfortable and support well. Rear passengers sit fairly upright allowing plenty of legroom and the boot area holds a generous 589 litres of luggage, making it one of the class leaders. A space saver spare wheel is found beneath the floor of the boot.

The door pockets are tad narrow for bulky sun-glasses cases but there's a large storage box positioned between driver and passenger.

Despite the sizable body and modest engine size, the CR-V in diesel form proves a frugal means of transport with an official fuel average of 55.4mpg. Translated into real-life terms, most owners will easily exceed the 42mpg mark in normal usage, as I did.

FAST FACTS

Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX AWD

Price: £33,630

Mechanical:158bhp, 1,598, 4cyl diesel engine driving four-wheels via 9-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 9.9 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 133g/km

Bik rating: 28%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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