Honda is stepping up its design revolution with the new CR-V, the British-built mid-size SUV that will go head-to-head with Land Rover's new Freelander and the Toyota Rav4. The new Civic family hatch was a radical departure from its predecessor, and its CR-V sister model is looking to make a similar departure from today's bland model. The new car shares components with the Civic, and will be built beside it in Honda's Swindon plant. Power comes from petrol and diesel four-cylinder engines, with part-time four-wheel drive. The new car will be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September 2006, with UK sales set for January 1 2007. Expect prices from around £19,000.
Under the skin
The CR-V looks more rugged than its predecessor, but it maintains an on-road bias. Its monocoque chassis is designed for car-like handling and decent refinement, rather than the ability to climb mountains. The body is suspended by struts up front, and a multi-link rear axle. Power from the new 2.0-litre petrol and 138bhp 2.2-litre diesel engines is sent to the front wheels unless they scrabble for grip. Then torque is diverted to the rear. At 4635mm-long, the outgoing five-seat CR-V was as big as a BMW X5, but this car looks even bigger. Expect decent room in the second row, fold flat seats and a huge load bay, even with the rear seats in place.
Design: CR-V gets funky
With CR-V customers more traditional than Honda's younger, target customer for the new Civic, the CR-V isn't quite as revolutionary looking as its little brother. But the funky face epitomises Honda's bolder direction. Black tape attempts to obscure the step in the big headlamps, which melt downwards into a wide U-shaped grille that underlines a big, chrome – but currently hidden – Honda badge. A pronounced undertray, arched glasshouse and chunky vertical rear lamps also endow the CR-V with far more street cred.