IT'S a fact that the Honda CR-V is the world's best-selling SUV and now the Japanese car maker has added to its all-round appeal by introducing hybrid technology to the mix for the first time.
The popular five-door family car still looks good from any approach especially in range-topping EX guise thanks to its bold, upright stance, neat daytime running lights, privacy glass, LED front fog lights, opening panoramic glass roof, distinctive rear light clusters and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Move inside and the CR-V stays true to form and age-old tradition with a clutter-free layout that, despite featuring all the modern techno treats, remains quite unassuming. There are no flashy gizmos and even the wooden-styled trimmings look pretty upmarket.
The high-quality leather seats are exceptionally comfortable with plenty of power adjustment for the driver and all the controls, dials and read-outs are easy to operate on the fly.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include the likes full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a head-up display, heated front and rear seats, ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel, Honda Connect with GARMIN navigation, a nine-speaker sound system plus subwoofer, a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB radio with Bluetooth and lots more besides.
The car, priced at £39,600, was powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine that works in tandem with two electric motors controlled by an intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) system that offers three modes called EV, Eco and Sport.
It can reach from 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and maxes out at 112mph while delivering a combined 51.4mpg with carbon emissions of 126g/km. Our model was all-wheel-drive, but you will see slightly better fuel economy and a lower emissions figure if you opt for two-wheel drive versions.
When it comes to performance out on the open road, the CR-V is a very capable vehicle so long as you don't want instant power and blisteringly-quick acceleration. Provided you treat the vehicle with a little respect, then the performance is just fine with nice handling. If, however, you drive with a heavy right boot, then expect lots of screams of protest from the eCVT gearbox and little reaction from the engine.
But in fairness to Honda which has its fair share of ‘fast' cars, the CR-V is a practical family car that's not exactly renowned for delivering a dynamic, thrill-seeker's performance.
Motorway driving is comfortable and the car will cruise with ease at 70mph. In Sport mode the reactions are livelier and there are steering wheel mounted paddles that control the level of regenerative braking.
The steering is nicely weighted with ample driver feedback and the excellent all-round visibility is a real plus factor on a car that will frequently be spotted on the dreaded school run.
Quite soft suspension smooths out most bumps and dips along the way and the car is well insulated against road surface sound. At higher speeds the wind noise is quite apparent within the cabin mainly due to the upright design of the car, and the CVT gearbox can also get more vocal if pushed too hard.
When it comes to practicality, the CR-V is exceptionally versatile with room for all the family and luggage too. The boot, which has a hands-free powered tailgate, can swallow 497 litres of kit - a limit that increases to 1,638 litres with the split-folding rear seats dropped flat. And there are numerous handy storage options throughout the car, such as deep cup holders, door pockets, a glovebox, a central cubby with sliding shelf, trays and a sunglasses holder.
The latest CR-V secured a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and is packed with safety specifications and driver aids. Honda Sensing is fitted as standard and includes a collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, lane keep assist, intelligent adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition and an intelligent speed limiter.
There is also a blind spot and cross monitor system, high beam support, plus AWD to keep you going in more adverse weather and driving conditions.