IT'S been around since 1995, but the Honda CR-Vremains the world's best-selling SUV - an astonishing feat when you consider the huge range now available.
The latest incarnation of the CR-V raises the bar considerably in terms of interior quality and spaciousness - including, for the first time, the option of seven seats on some petrol all-wheel drive models.
Honda's engineers also paid particular attention to delivering improved ride quality, steering response, body control and NVH - noise, vibration and harshness - management and, mostly, they have succeeded.
It comes in S, SE, SR and range-topping EX trim but all are well equipped. The SE featured here comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, a rear view camera, hill start assist and electrically adjustable, heated door mirrors.
The latest CR-V's slightly larger exterior proportions, longer wheelbase and wider stance enable a larger interior. There is masses of space for five adults and the driver would need arms like an octopus to bump elbows with a front seat passenger.
An expansive soft-touch panel sweeps across the width of the cabin, and the upper sections of the door panels feature soft-touch caps for driver and passenger comfort. However, the wood-effect trim, applied to the door cards and lower section of the dashboard, looks intrusively naff.
A more subtle metallic trim embellishes the air vent bezels, steering wheel trim, door handles and the climate control panel. Seat upholstery is plush black fabric as standard.
Honda has rationalised the screen layout compared to the previous generation CR-V, now featuring just one central easy-to-use touchscreen in addition to the seven-inch Driver Information Interface (DII) visible through the steering wheel.
The control knob layout has also been simplified, including a simple cluster for air-conditioning management located beneath the touchscreen. Scrolling and selecting the information to display in the DII is performed via thumbpad controls on the steering wheel.
The boot of the CR-V is wider and deeper than before with a longer load bay. Class-leading in size, it can accommodate a 19.5-inch frame mountain bike. A new two-position boot floor enables a flat surface for loading larger items, while new single-action ‘dive down' 60:40 split-fold second-row seat backs enable faster, easier loading.
There's also plenty of storage space in the cabin itself. A three-mode centre console is large enough for a laptop or handbag.
Four USB charging points - two in the front, two in the back - means there's ample connections for phones, tablets and other personal electronic devices.
As well as six airbags, the ‘Honda Sensing' suite of active safety technologies is also standard. Great for family safety, it includes a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, a lane keeping assist system, adaptive cruise control, and traffic sign recognition.
There's also blind spot information, a cross traffic monitor, and an excellent multi-angle rear-view camera.
Though a hybrid version is now also available, the beating heart of the conventionally-powered CR-Vis Honda's 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine first seen in the Civic, but adapted to include an exclusively-designed turbocharger for CR-V.
Power output is 170bhp at 5,000rpm when equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox - which I think is much more preferable to the CVT automatic. Maximum torque is an ample 220Nm.
Official CO2 emissions are 143g/km for the manual front-wheel drive model. Fuel economy is 44.8mpg for the manual FWD model though I managed just 33.2mpg during my time behind the wheel.
But - there's always a but - while the CR-Vis a comfortable, safe, and somewhat refined practical family car, it's also a little dull. It is a very fine car but you're not going to get the kind of joy you would encounter in one of its German or Jaguar rivals.