The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Few people will have any complaints about the fundamentals: the pedals, seat and steering wheel are all well aligned. There’s a good range of adjustment for the steering column's height and reach, and the driver’s seat offers manual height and electric lumbar adjustment. The lever for adjusting the backrest angle is annoying; it leaves you with a set number of positions only, none of which ever seems to be ideal. Electrically adjustable seats are available to cure this, but you’ll have to fork out for the most expensive EX trim. The seat itself is really comfortable for a long journey, though.
The CR-V has the same dashboard layout and digital instruments as the Honda Civic. These can't be configured to your taste, like the instrument screens can be in the Citroën C5 Aircross and Volkswagen Tiguan. Other than that the screen is easy to read and the rest of the dashboard's buttons are big, well placed and easy to use. A lot of the CR-V's rivals, like the Seat Tarrco and Tiguan, have fiddlier touch-sensitive buttons for their climate controls.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
The CR-V's windscreen pillars are unusually slim for a large SUV, so visibility in bends or at junctions is happily unrestricted. The deep front side windows and large door mirrors also make it easy to see out the sides. Then, if you crane your neck to look behind you, the lightly tapering rear window line still leaves plenty of glass area for a clearer view when reversing than you'll find in a lot of its rivals, including cars like the Kia Sorento and Land Rover Discovery Sport.
That said, those two rivals, like most of the cars in this class, come with parking aids as standard. In the CR-V these include front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera on all but entry-level S trim. Bright LED headlights, meanwhile, are standard throughout the range.
Sat nav and infotainment
Let’s not pull any punches here: the CR-V’s infotainment system is the same as the one in the cheaper Civic and it’s poor in that. By the standards of the large SUV class, which features cars that have brilliant systems such as BMW’s iDrive in the X3, it’s even less competitive.
So, what’s the problem? Well, the touchscreen may be conveniently positioned on the dashboard, but even the biggest screen fitted from our recommended SE trim is 7.0in, which is quite small by today's standards. The resolution is also disappointingly low and, worse still, the sluggish software and confusing menus make it a pain to use. The Sorento's system or the Mazda CX-5's is much better.
Mercifully, Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto smartphone mirroring is standard from our recommended SE trim, so you can, in effect, bypass Honda's own operating system and use the touchscreen to control your phone's apps instead. SE and above also come with four USB ports, in-built sat-nav and a nine-speaker stereo. S trim has eight speakers, a dinky 5.0in touchscreen with no sat-nav and one USB port.
There are soft-touch plastics and a leather effect material on the upper areas, stitched leather on the door trims, gloss black panels and silvery highlights that create an upmarket atmosphere. That said, the sheer number of materials used, including the fake wood veneers on some versions, make it feel like the CR-V's stylists just couldn’t stop styling. It could be argued the Volkswagen Group rivals, which include Volkswagen Tiguan and the cheaper Skoda Kodiaq, have a more cohesive and appealing design.
The CR-V is well put together in the main, but even in this regard there are places — for instance, give the front door handle a firm pull and it flexes in your hand — where it's not quite on a par with the sturdiest and plushest SUVs. The Mazda CX-5 knocks it for six, and the Sorento is smarter and more solid overall, too.
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