In the words of the great Bob Dylan The times they are a-changin, and so it is for the Honda CR-V, the founding father of the sports utility.
Back in 1995 it was it was a new breed of car, it looked like an off roader but drove like an oversized family hatchback. It opened the floodgates and became a must have for car companies. Even Rolls-Royce and Bentley have joined the clan.
People grew to love CR-V because it was so roomy, carrying a family of five and all their holiday paraphernalia, and there was the same love affair with caravanners who liked the ease at which the diesel engine towed.
Back to the here and now and the 5th generation model is all about energy efficiency and doing its bit to make the air we breathe cleaner. So no more diesel engines, just a cleaner petrol hybrid, and you can forget about towing because the 750kg limit is little more than a titchy trailer.
If this is painting a bleak picture it is not meant to; the Honda has not lost any of its other attributes and is still a popular big family car.
CR-V is offered only as a self charging hybrid, which is surprising given Honda’s experience in this area, so emissions are not as low and economy not as good as a plug in hybrid. You will only get around a mile of driving on electric power and that will be at low speeds.
Driven with a sensible foot on the fast pedal the batteries are quickly recharged and the process can be speeded up using the steering wheel paddles for brake regeneration.
Performance is on the good side of average but you will get irritated by the drone from the CVT gearbox when accelerating. This is the norm for this type of transmission because the automatic box is a law unto itself sometimes hanging on to a gear for what seems like an eternity. It is not a deal breaker and the 2-litre engine is responsive and smooth.
Economy is rather good, expect to average around 43mpg, and on a 240 mile round trip I just nudged 50mpg although I was driving solo with nothing in the boot.
It is ditto on handling – the good side of average. CR-V is tuned for comfort which, let’s be honest, is what the majority of owners want. This model is a little stiffer than what has gone before so not too much body roll given its SUV status. If you crave something sporty try a Mazda CX-5.
Space is the trump card here, whether it is rear legroom, headroom, or boot space which is cavernous with a low loading height, table top flat with the back seats down and a wide aperture with the tailgate open. Pretty much a masterpiece of SUV design.
The layout up front leaves me a bit perplexed. Everything is clear, whether it be the driver’s binnacle, which has a digital speedometer and various bits of information accessed from the usual steering wheel buttons, or the central console which has clear markings. Yet it looks outdated compared to its rivals.
The touchscreen is a mere seven inches which is minute by today’s standards. It is not the easiest to fathom either, the navigation graphics look like something out out of a child’s picture book, finding the DAB radio list took a while, and I still haven’t worked out how to increase the voice volume for navigation. Level 11 was not enough but was as far as I could get.
Back to the positives and the quality of the fixtures and fittings is very good as is the spec, right across the five model range, so plenty of premium bits and bobs along with a full suite of safety technology.
There are always little niggles with the best of cars and CR-V is no exception, but there is nothing much not to like about a car that offers so much.
CR-V EX e-CVT AWD
£41,155 (starts £32,815)
2-litre petrol hybrid; 280bhp
0-62mph 9.2secs; 112mph
163g/km. 1st tax £585
Insurance group 24
Boot 497-1638 litres