Honda will go down in history as being one of the pioneers of the sport utility vehicle market.
When then CRV was launched in the mid-90s it dawned a new era of motor vehicle production, the SUV has become a worldwide hit, and there's no slowing demand.
Honda have once again stolen the high ground with CRV, a new generation model entered the Kiwi market in July last year and new models within the line-up are constantly being added.
At present there are four, including a two-wheel-drive model which starts the series in both manual and automatic at $37,900 and $39,900.
There is also a four-wheel-drive RVi at $46,600, and a range-topping Sport at $51,700. The test car was the entry-level S auto 2WD and it would be my choice, even though it is a 2-litre model only. The RVi and Sport get 2.4-litre engines.
The entry-level model is reasonably well specced, it has cloth trim but the material is high quality and blends well with the aesthetic design. Major items of equipment include dual zone climate control and cruise control. That on top of a full specification package for safety.
Honda have borrowed the 2-litre engine from the Civic range, the single-camshaft unit is rated at 114kW and 190Nm. It is coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission, and it, too, is pretty much a carryover. That matters little, it is a driveline which is well suited to the CRV's role, the engine is responsive to the accelerator while the gearing and shift mechanism is structured for the wide-ranging role the CRV is expected to face.
As you would expect from Honda, the CRV is also good on thrift, they rate the 1998cc engine at 7.7-litres per 100km (36mpg).
According to the trip computer it was constantly listing at around 9.6l/100km (30mpg) which was a good result given that the pre-Christmas and roadwork-disrupted traffic meant a lot of slow speed suburban driving.
At 100km/h a 6.1l/100km (46mpg) figure shows with the engine turning over at just 1950rpm in fifth gear. And while five gears seem a little short these days in comparison to the many six-speeders on the market, the CRV's engine has plenty of low down power to fill the gaps and provide almost seamless momentum, taking into account that the CRV is quite a big vehicle now.
The size benefit translates to in-cabin space and occupant-friendly interior. SUVs are designed for families and all those who are treated to a CRV drive will be well catered for with an almost luxurious interior without space issues. Ride comfort is also well engineered into the car, the fully independent suspension has been well sorted by Honda, providing a stable, absorbent ride, low speed ruts are softened and body movement over the suspension isn't overly noticeable.
The driver has a good grasp over the controls while the cockpit area is clean and modern. This is something Honda do well, the ergonomics promote ease of use with a familiarity that is spread across the entire Honda range.
One of the more interesting features of the CRV is the green dash-mounted ECON button. Like the Civic I evaluated recently, when pushed, it alters the engine mapping to dull throttle feel. In ECON mode fuel efficiency is enhanced.
At the other end is a large storage area. The CRV has long been the efficient cargo carrier, it will easily cater for the family's summer holiday belongings. Or as in our case, when my wife went to pick up the CRV she had just been to Ballantynes to purchase a 3m Christmas tree.
Although it was packaged, it was a large carton and she asked the friendly staff at Honda Cars if they could lay the rear seats down so that the box could be transported there, they obliged willingly and the carton fitted length-wise easily.
And it must be said that the operation to fold the seats down is simplistic, there is a one movement mechanism which folds and locks the seats flat into place.
The CRV sits in the middle of three Honda drives in a row. It is a car that has been extensively developed, building on the success of previous generations. It has come of age with its highly efficient mechanicals and value for money level of specification.