The layout of the dash and digital instruments in the Honda CR-V is the same as the Civic.

The layout of the dash and digital instruments in the Honda CR-V is the same as the Civic.

Honda defines CR-V as 'Compact Recreational Vehicle' while others regard it as a 'Comfortable Runabout Vehicle'. While the fifth and latest generation model won't set pulses racing, it can be relied on as a practical, family-friendly car. Continuing just-auto/AIC's review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this worldwide best seller.

Life on board

Four trim levels are available on the latest incarnation CR-V, starting with the S (manual gearbox only), rising to the SE, SR and EX. The swish interior of the top-drawer EX press review incorporates a blend of materials, including leather and fake wood veneers.

Touches of metallic trim give a contemporary finish to the air vent bezels, steering wheel trim, door handles and the climate control panel. The upmarket textiles cover the door-card inserts, headliner, windscreen pillars and dashboard inlay. Most of the surfaces are soft to touch with all the usual scratchy plastics hidden at ankle level. Generous-sized armrests are fitted either side of the front seats.  

Connectivity  

On the connectivity front, a seven-inch touchscreen allows you to pinch, swipe and tap through the Honda Connect in-car audio and information system. This includes DAB and internet radio (with a welcome dial to control the volume rather than a touch-slider), phone interface and Bluetooth connectivity, rearview parking camera with dynamic guidelines.

Although the touchscreen is easy to use, the screen size itself is on the small side compared to rival large SUVs. There are no fewer than four USB charging points dotted around the cabin to keep occupants content and connected. 

Beneath the touchscreen is a no-nonsense cluster to operate the HVAC with chunky dials and buttons set in between.

Further down, various drive selector buttons are positioned on the centre console, with a design that uses a compact switch-style transmission selector rather than a conventional lever. Drive, Park and Neutral functions require a button push, while Reverse requires a pull-up action. A 'Sport' mode, which can be activated via the drive selector, enables a more responsive throttle input for the hybrid system.

Forward visibility is good and unrestricted thanks in part to the slightly narrower A-pillars compared to the previous model. While the rearward view is a little hampered, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera make parking feel a breeze.

Instrumentation

The instrumentation cluster incorporates a 7-inch TFT-LCD Driver Information Interface (DII) central display, flanked by battery charge status and fuel-level gauges.

The hybrid DII includes a digital speedo and linear power gauge with a charge status indicator. Integrated into the lower half of the DII is a 'content zone', which the driver can scroll through to choose from a variety of information, including navigation instructions, audio track information, smartphone contacts, all-wheel-drive system status, and smart vehicle maintenance information.

The DII also features a graphic of the current power flow, indicating the vehicle's power source at any given moment, status updates on if the battery is being charged, and an 'ECO Guide' to suggest more efficient driving techniques. In addition, drivers can monitor their efficiency over time with a drive cycle score, earning points depicted by leaf icons in the display, increasing or decreasing as a different stage of fuel economy is achieved.

Steering wheel controls on the left spoke may be used to operate certain functions such as adjust various settings, perform alphabetic searches – of contacts or music tracks, for example – as well as select the preferred information to display in the DII.  A second thumb pad on the right spoke of the steering wheel operates the adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist system settings.

Head-up display (HUD) technologies fall into two camps: Combiner and Windscreen. A combiner HUD uses a screen to reflect an image to the driver, while a windscreen HUD has images projected directly off the windscreen. The CR-V incorporates a pop-up combiner that displays information on speed, adaptive cruise control, navigation and other ADAS critical data.

Cavernous cabin

Cabin space is ample for all occupants, thanks to a wider stance and longer wheelbase compared to the previous model. The driver and front passenger benefit from ever-so-slightly (5mm) more headroom and 16mm more hip room compared to the last version, while thinner and flatter proportions for the fuel tank ahead of the rear wheels contributes to an extra 50mm of legroom for second-row passengers.

The storage compartment in the centre console is also worthy of note. A three-mode centre console adapts to a variety of requirements. In its 'console tray' mode, it can accommodate a smartphone. The tray can be placed in forward or rearward positions or stowed to enable three storage configurations. In the forward position, the smartphone tray covers up the main storage compartment for security and privacy. When placed rearward, the tray keeps smaller items separated while enabling access to the compartment below. If the tray is removed altogether, the compartment is just large enough to squirrel away a laptop.

Further back, the boot space provides a capacity of 497 litres with the 60/40 back seats in the upright position. With the rear seats folded flat (and without the optional third-row seating), the load increases to 1,638 litres.

There are one or two other practical features that make the CR-V easy to live with on a day-to-day basis. For example, the height of the tailgate when opened can be programmed to avoid contact with low ceilings.

Advanced driver assistance systems

The CR-V comes equipped with a number of advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) technologies as part of its 'Honda Sensing' suite, including collision mitigation warning, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, lane-keeping assistance,  adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, intelligent speed assistance, blind spot information, cross-traffic monitor and a multi-angle rearview camera.

Comfortable Runabout

The cabin feels relatively quiet and civilised due to a number of NVH management measures. These include a doubling in the thickness of the door seals, changes to the floor carpet, and optimisation or enlargement of sound absorption materials in the dash, doors and pillars. Further measures taken include the sealing of the front end of the bonnet to reduce wind noise. As a result of such measures, the cabin is six percent quieter than its predecessor.

On balance, while the perceived quality of the cabin is lacking in some respects, the overall interior design is easy on the eye. Since the first generation appeared in the mid-1990s, Honda has stuck to its winning crossover-SUV formula with each version. Everything in the latest model feels reassuringly solid. Just as it should for a price tag of £39,600. Its rivals include the likes of the Kia Sorento, VW Tiguan and Peugeot 5008.