You can’t really consider yourself a family car maker until you’ve got an SUV in your line-up. Parents are shunning traditional cars in lieu of taller SUVs which, despite compromised on-road dynamics, can fit more kiddy paraphernalia and require less stooping to conquer.
Honda was one of the first to join this group of auto makers with the CR-V but, as other manufacturers geared up their opposition, it became more and more marginalised as an alternative choice. The Japanese marque is looking to reverse this image with a comprehensive range of upgrades for the CR-V for 2015.
Honda wanted to reflect the car’s new-found sense of stability in its styling so has subtly reprofiled the CR-V to enhance this look. A new front grille is flanked by reshaped headlights, a new lower bumper and skid plate to make the CR-V look more purposeful.
New LED rear lights are said to give the car a more 3D-like appearance and new 17 or 18-inch alloys complete the car’s new stance. The latter increases CO2 and reduces fuel consumption marginally so, if you’re concerned about consumption, avoid the 18s.
Inside, the dashboard has been redesigned to accommodate the new infotainment system and a chrome element aims to add a touch of class to the ambience. Honda has kept the CR-V practical by ensuring that the boot can house two mountain bikes or four sets of golf clubs – if that’s your thing…
Revised front suspension bushings, dampers and geometry increase the grip available which, in conjunction with a 35kg reduction in engine and gearbox weight, enhance the feeling of stability at speed and agility around corners.
Honda wanted to make the CR-V feel more responsive than the older model so elected to quicken the steering rack’s ratio by around eight per cent. The enhanced shift times from the new nine-speed automatic gearbox are significantly reduced, too, which makes the CR-V feel more sprightly when accelerating.
Refinement has been improved, too. A six per cent drop in cabin noise can be attributed to thicker door seals, new carpeting and sound insulation, and the fitment of new seals around the front end of the bonnet.
Big news under the bonnet is the addition of a new 1.6-litre turbodiesel four-cylinder which, says Honda, offers the most power for its specific fuel consumption in its segment. This 158hp unit replaces the old 2.2-litre and, when mated to the nine-speed automatic transmission, emits just 134g/km of CO2 with the smaller wheels while returning 55.4mpg.
The same 1.6-litre is offered with 118hp, two-wheel drive and a manual gearbox. A 153hp petrol can also be specified with two- or four-wheel drive and a manual or automatic gearbox – though, in the UK, this is unlikely to be popular so is best avoided.
Honda’s new Connect system makes its debut in the CR-V and is standard on all CR-Vs except the entry-level version. It runs a version of Android and makes use of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chipset – specifically designed for use in cars.
The system handles DAB digital radio, Bluetooth mobile connectivity, output from the rear-view camera, internet access and, if specified, Garmin-based satellite navigation. It also gets preinstalled apps that link with your smartphone to enhance functionality.
Honda is introducing its range of ‘Sensing’ safety technologies that comprises collision warning, lane-departure warning, traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, cross traffic monitoring and high-beam support in conjunction with its new intelligent adaptive cruise control.
This i-ACC system is fascinating because it claims to be the first system of its type that ‘predicts’ what other motorists will do before they do it. In this case, it can detect if a motorist will cut in front of the car up to five seconds before it happens based on a complex algorithm.
A raft of personalisation features can be specified across the CR-V range. The range includes the chrome styling pack, an aero styling pack, an illumination pack, a convenience pack (with protective body cladding) and a cargo pack which brings a boot organiser and boot step protector.
Finally, Honda has released a digital signal processing system for the stereo that allows the occupants to tune the sound output to replicate that of various locations. Owners can make their music sound as though its coming from a professional music studio or a traditional concert hall.
It’ll go on sale in the UK in March priced from £22,340 to £35,620. For a more in-depth explanation of the CR-V’s costs, check out our CR-V’s pricing guide. Before you commit to a Honda CR-V, take a look at its main rivals – the Mazda CX-5 and the Nissan Qashqai.