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Why this is Australia’s favourite Honda

The SUV is spacious and practical, with a huge boot, roomy rear and clever touches catering to families. A facelifted version arriving in showrooms now has a mildly revised look with chrome or silver cladding, along with the addition of twin rear USB charging points and easier to access front power outlets.All but the cheapest…

The SUV is spacious and practical, with a huge boot, roomy rear and clever touches catering to families. A facelifted version arriving in showrooms now has a mildly revised look with chrome or silver cladding, along with the addition of twin rear USB charging points and easier to access front power outlets.

All but the cheapest model now have a modern suite of safety aids that includes auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keeping assistance and other features. That’s an improvement, but it still misses out on features such as reverse auto braking, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert found in some rivals.

The range starts at about $34,000 drive-away with a low-spec CR-V Vi missing out on a turbo engine and most of the safety tech. Propelled by a 2.0-litre non-turbo engine with 113kW/189Nm, the basic CR-V is underpowered and goes without modern essentials such as push-button start and rear USB points. But you do get dual-zone climate control and a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Honda expects most customers to aim for mid-grade models such as the VTi-X tested here. Priced from about $40,000 drive-away, the VTi-X has a turbocharged 1.5-litre engine with 140kW and 240Nm, plus 18-inch alloys, a touchscreen with satnav, front and rear parking sensors and a powered tailgate.

Premium models build on that with features such as LED headlights, leather trim, wireless smartphone charging and a panoramic sunroof. You can also choose seven-seat or all-wheel-drive variants, though it’s not a matter of ticking boxes to add elements to your favourite model — you have to pick from seven combinations. The top-grade CR-V VTi-LX AWD seven-seater with the lot costs about $52,000 drive-away.

All models are backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, and metallic paint is free. Servicing is due every 12 months or 10,000 kilometres (most competitors have 15,000km intervals) and costs a reasonable $312 per visit.

A week with the updated model highlighted its shortcomings and strengths.

Yes, the engine feels noisy and underwhelming compared with segment leaders, the steering isn’t as precise as some and the interior lacks wow-factor. The CVT transmission isn’t sporty, and the soft suspension is tuned to please passengers rather than keen drivers.

Yet the CR-V gets a lot of stuff right. The powered tailgate aperture is enormous, the rear doors swing open much further than most, the boot floor is flat and it has a proper spare tyre. While it lacks the precision and dynamic deftness of some competitors, the CR-V’s comfortable ride and relaxed manners will hit the spot for many families.

Standard fitment of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means you don’t have to use Honda’s clunky infotainment interface, and the near-standard inclusion of key safety elements makes the CR-V much easier to recommend.

VERDICT 3.5/5

Worthwhile safety and connectivity upgrades lift the appeal of Honda’s family-friendly SUV.

HONDA CR-V VTI-X VITALS

Price: About $40,000 drive-away

Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbo, 140kW/270Nm

Warranty/servicing: 5-year/unlimited km, $1560 for five years

Safety: 5 stars, 6 airbags, auto emergency braking, active cruise control, lane keeping assistance

Thirst: 7L/100km

Cargo: 522 litres

Spare: Full-size

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