motoring - Turning Japanese

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Honda’s interminable SUV has proved its mettle by shedding its dowdy image to transform into a car that’s now an appealing choice for family transport.


The world is constantly moving forward. Stand still and you get left behind. Honda, quite smartly, has recognised the truth of this reality, and took the red pen to its SUV staple, the CR-V. Moving forward has been a good thing.

The previous CR-V was – let’s be kind – quite mediocre. It was roomy and it was reliable, but the styling was forgettable, the steering felt like it was attached with rope, and it handled corners slightly better than a hovercraft. The latest Honda CR-V, however, feels like a completely different car. And that’s because it is.

Outside, the awkward stepped grille is gone, the sides have been smoothed over, the aerofoil-shaped glasshouse improved, and the ‘stamped’ tailgate has been replaced by a softer look. The CR-V’s interior is fresh and modern and, despite some hard plastics, it looks premium. There’s heaps of space for passengers both front and back, while the boot has 556l of capacity, climbing to 1,648l when the rear seats are down. And, with Honda’s ‘Magic Seats’ which tumble and fold with just one lever, loading cargo is ridiculously easy.

The drive experience has had a makeover, too. Now, the steering feels connected to the car and cornering isn’t a close-your-eyes-and-hope-for-the-best experience. The engine doesn’t need to be tortured to go anywhere, it’s quieter, uses less fuel, and the ride is exceptional.

It works well as a soft-roader, its all-wheel-drive system directing power to the back wheels to increase grip when needed; however, Honda will sell you a cheaper (and slightly more efficient) version with two-wheel-drive. Don’t bother – stick with AWD.

Honda’s CR-V is priced right, flexible, safe, drives well, and looks the part. If this is proof of Honda making a turnaround, then we’re in for a good future from the Japanese company.

So, how about that new NSX?

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