By Mike Torpey on 2020-07-26 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Honda CR-V 2.0i
STAYING ahead of the game is paramount if you happen to produce one of the world's top selling models of car.
And when it comes to the still-expanding SUV scene, where competition is especially intense, every little edge can prove critical.
Honda has done just that with the latest generation of its popular CR-V - or Compact Recreational Vehicle - courtesy of hybrid power.
The CR-V's hybrid system is both economical and works a treat, featuring what Honda calls intelligent Multi-Mode Drive and comprises two electric motors, a 143bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine and a lithium-ion battery.
What's really clever is the manner in which the technology switches automatically between three modes to provide the best driving efficiency.
There's EV Drive for fully electric driving, Hybrid Drive during which the engine provides power to an electric generator motor and Engine Drive where the engine is connected directly to the wheels.
During most urban trips the system will shuffle between EV and Hybrid Drive for the best efficiency and in the latter mode excess power from the engine will also recharge the battery.
EV gives a zero emissions range up to a mile and while completely silent there is an acoustic alert to warn pedestrians when the vehicle approaches.
Otherwise the CR-V is smooth and relaxing to drive, the only criticism being the engine noise which was excessively ‘revvy' and an average fuel return of 39.5 miles per gallon compared to the official figure of 51.4.
Available in both two-wheel-drive (2WD) and all-wheel drive, and with fully petrol or diesel engines as well as hybrid, the fifth generation CR-V raises the bar in terms of interior quality too, with smart features aimed at making the Honda easier to use.
So you can programme the height of the tailgate to avoid contact with low ceilings, there's better cabin flexibility via a triple-mode centre stowage console and new ‘dive down' split and fold rear seats for faster loading.
Along with a deeper, wider boot with a longer load bay higher spec CR-V Hybrid buyers also get a hands-free power tailgate.
The cabin's quality and layout is also a stand-out feature with its pin-sharp seven-inch horizontal touchscreen, rear-view camera, leather steering wheel and fascia and comfortable seats.
Meanwhile, the drive selector controls are operated by a neat switch-style transmission selector rather than a conventional lever - Drive, Park and Neutral at the push of a button while Reverse requires a pull-up action.
Another change made by Honda's engineers was to extend the length of the wheelbase by 30mm, which may not sound much but in reality provides more space inside - especially in the back.
It also contributes to the SUV's more svelte styling and allows for a deeper boot with longer load bay.
Chunky, strong and stylish, the latest CR-V has not only stayed ahead, but moved the game up another notch.
Honda CR-V 2.0i Hybrid SE
Mechanical: 184ps, 1,993cc 4cyl petrol engine plus two electric motors driving front wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 8.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 53.3
Insurance Group: 24
C02 emissions: 120g/km
Bik rating: 29%
Warranty: 3yrs/90,000 miles
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