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Honda CR-V review (2001-2006 model)
The growing anti-4x4 lobby have three main complaints; that such vehicles are obese; that they pollute the world disproportionately; they put pedestrians in mortal danger disproportionately. So by wanting to ban them and branding their drivers “idiots”, Ken Livingstone is only taking the decent, morally correct course.
New Honda CR-V
But Honda argues it’s being perfectly reasonable and morally sound in selling a dreaded 4x4, the CR-V. And before you shout “they would do, wouldn’t they”, hear out Honda’s compelling argument. The recently-facelifted CR-V, of which 105,000 were built at Honda’s UK factory last year, is no bigger than a Ford Mondeo. Obese? Well, only if you can label a tall car so – and the CR-V’s additional height pays dividends in town with far greater visibility. You can spot that impatient child waiting to sprint across the road, see over the hedges to the traffic queue around the next bend.
OK, but perhaps pedestrians should be picketing the Swindon gates? They’d be wrong to. The CR-V is officially one of the kindest cars to pedestrians, earning a three-star rating in the Euro-NCAP tests, one of only a handful of cars to do so. It’s in the top 10% of all cars on the road for pedestrian safety. That city slicker favourite, the Audi TT? It earned not a single star.
However, Honda hasn’t really been able to answer the third argument up to now. The CR-V only offered a single petrol engine, which was clean enough in its own way but never likely to unduly worry fuel companies. But now, its case is complete; the 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel engine is now available in the CR-V, and what a difference it makes. Average economy, 42.2mpg. Better than a 1.6-litre Citroen C4. CO2 emissions, 177g/km, better than a 1.8-litre Vauxhall Astra. You can assume it’s twice as efficient as a black cab, while a particulate filter means it emits far fewer pollutants than a bus. This is one ‘green’ vehicle, which uses 10% less fuel than an average Ford Mondeo 1.8.
But now we’ve destroyed the case of the lobbyists, would we actually want to drive it ourselves? You bet. This engine makes the CR-V. We’ve already praised it highly in the Accord and, while there is a little more noise and clatter than we expected at lower revs here, generally it’s like no other diesel 4x4 you can buy. There is a near-total absence of vibration, it revs freely and is genuinely punchy, as you would expect from the availability of a grunty 250lb/ft of torque at 2000rpm. Acceleration to 60mph in 10.6 seconds is excellent by 4x4 standards. The new six-speed manual gearbox is also brilliant.
In town it placates pedestrians yet further as external noise levels are so low (so no ‘Transit van’ sound effects), while its passengers enjoy a smooth ride quality that is rarely harsh over scarred surfaces. This means it’s not the sportiest vehicle through corners but accept the body roll and it can be surprisingly enjoyable, helped by revised suspension settings for the 2005 facelift. Despite slow, vague steering, the CR-V feels a precise, easy-going machine whose four-wheel-drive system will help you out of sticky situations should the need arise. Note, ordinarily only the front wheels are driven, to save fuel and cause difficulties for those who want to ban ‘4x4s’…
We’re not saying anti-4x4 warriors don’t have a point. Yet can you really castigate a vehicle that is safer than many family cars, better for pedestrians, less harmful to the environment and less greedy with fossil fuels than a vast number of ‘ordinary’ models? Honda has invalidated the argument with the CR-V CDTi. Besides, with its vast interior space and huge boot, it’s a viable MPV, never mind a 4x4. It is not cheap, with a starter price of £18,600 being £1,400 more than the comparable 2.0-litre petrol, but whoever said saving the world with an 4x4 would be? Overall, this Honda 4x4 is far from idiotic.
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