WITH global concerns about climate change increasing and pressure growing on all of us to reduce our carbon footprints the switch to alternatively fuelled vehicles is gathering momentum.
Sales of hybrid and electric motors are on the rise and more and more models are becoming available as car makers shift their emphasis to meeting the demand for cleaner engine technology.
Honda is certainly not shirking the challenge and has announced its ambition for all of its European mainstream models to feature electrified powertrains by 2022, shifting forward a previous target of 2025, with the forthcoming Honda e and new hybrid-only Jazz leading the way.
If you want to drive a Honda hybrid right now though, other than the NSX supercar your only choice is the CR-V Hybrid which hit UK roads earlier last year - and it's a very good choice if you're after a spacious, practical family SUV with green credentials.
Following the launch of the standard fifth-generation CR-V, the hybrid follows the same S, SE, SR and EX grade line-up and is available with front or four-wheel drive with prices starting from £30,130.
The hybrid system combines a 2.0-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and will shift the two-wheel drive car we drove from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 112mph.
The intelligent system automatically switches between electric, hybrid and engine power to maximise efficiency and fuel economy - which is 40.9 miles per gallon on average.
Honda says that at a 40mph cruise, the CR-V hybrid will typically run on electric only for more than half of the time, while at 62mph it will do so for approximately one third of the time.
In reality, in most urban driving situations, the CR-V will shuffle between hybrid and electric drive while the engine will be used for cruising at higher speeds, supplemented by an extra boost from the electric motor when needed.
Behind the wheel it feels punchy and responsive, with decent low-end pull, and is a refined and effortless cruiser, although engine volume does spike under sharp acceleration as a result of the continuously variable transmission - which is your only option.
Sporty or dynamic are not words that spring to mind, but that's not the point of a family SUV, and the CR-V offers a straightforward and relaxed driving experience.
The steering is well-weighted and accurate and the ride supple and comfortable. There is some body roll in bends, as is usual with cars of this type and size, but it's not pronounced and the suspension smooths out any imperfections in the road surface impressively. It grips well and feels settled.
Inside, the cabin can accommodate five adults with relative ease and all will have decent head and leg room. Although not quite reaching premium standards, the fixtures and fittings are durable, with some nice softer-touch surfaces where you'll most notice them.
A variety of contrasting finishes keeps things interesting but the wood effect trim on the dashboard, door panels and central storage console, which my family quite liked, may be a bit of an acquired taste for some.
Seven seat versatility is not an option with hybrid versions of the CR-V but the boot, at 497 litres, is generous and load capacity rises to a maximum 1,694 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats folded flat.
Equipment levels are good across the range, with all cars getting alloy wheels, climate control, adaptive cruise control and a range of safety features including automatic emergency braking and lane keep assist.
Stepping up from the entry-level model adds a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with digital radio, navigation, rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while our SR trim car also boasted roof rails, rear privacy glass, leather upholstery, heated front seats, blind spot information and keyless entry and ignition.