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There are few better choices

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: February 07, 2013

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The Honda CR-V has established a profitable position for itself in the compact SUV / Crossover marketplace ever since the first generation car arrived in 1997.

If anything, this Japanese maker's offering was ahead of its time in that it made little pretence of being any good in the rough stuff.

Instead, it concentrated on providing customers with a high level of ride and handling on the road, plus a family-friendly interior design.

The second generation model of 2002 barely deviated from this formula and neither did this Mk3 design. It was just that by the time the third generation version was launched in 2006, the public were far better catered for with regard to small road-biased 4x4s. So the CR-V had a fight on its hands.

Choice for the compact 4x4 customer had reached a zenith.

Honda responded with a 2010 refresh which featured a cleaner, more powerful 2.2-litre diesel engine, an automatic gearbox option for diesel models as well as revised exterior styling.

Honda's CR-V has racked up an impressive reliability record. Very few of these vehicles will have been driven off-road but there may be a few rogue examples out there. To be sure, check the underside of the car for knocks and scrapes. Make sure there's life in the clutch and that the tyres are in good condition and check for tired front dampers on diesels. The CR-V can handle gentle off-road tracks thanks to its four-wheel drive system but as ever, you should think of this as an all-wheel drive-equipped car rather than a 'proper' SUV.

Like most such systems, it functions in front wheel drive unless a pair of pumps decide that there's a speed differential between axles, prompting drive to the rear wheels to kick in.

There's the kind of independent suspension set-up you'd be more likely to see on a mildly sporty car, plus this third generation model saw its centre of gravity dropped by fully 35mm. As a result, you can forget the cumbersome roly-poly road manners and ponderous ride quality still common to some SUVs in this class. If you're in the market for a used compact 4x4 that won't throw up any headaches, which is simple to operate, yet is packed with features, this improved third generation Honda CR-V is as good a bet as we can think of. The revised diesel with the automatic box is the car to go for, especially so if you can track down a reasonably priced example.

Don't be afraid of big mileages. The diesel CR-V can easily shrug these off.

Andy Enright

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