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Honda CR-V 2019: lots of technology and lots of space

The Honda CR-V is ' the world's best selling SUV and the 2019 model is capable of comfortably transporting families and their luggage, while also offering a wide range of technical goodies to make the journey easier, more enjoyable and less tiring to make.

With updated styling to go with the technology, it is an SUV for the here and now, assuming you want a larger people carrier and not a more compact medium or small Sports Utility Vehicle.

In addition to staples such as cruise control and a reversing camera, the Honda CR-V also offers a HUD (heads-up display) and a smart smartphone integration to keep technically enthusiastic behind the wheel. We have made some serious kilometers on the CR-V to find out how well it all comes together.

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Honda CR-V design and drive

The Honda CR-V is long, long and wide. If you are uncomfortable maneuvering in confined spaces, this is not the car for you. But if you are someone who needs space for people and all their belongings, the CR-V has it in spades.

One of the first things we noticed when we climbed up, in the driver's seat of the Honda CR-V, was just the number of openings that were available.

The door compartments are some of the deepest we have seen, and the central separation between the front seats offers a key drawer, sufficient cup holders and extra storage space (the last of which is hidden under the sliding armrest).

There is sufficient space in both seat width and head height, making the cabin a comfortable and airy place to be. Honda has also improved sound insulation for the 2019 CR-V, which means that it is quieter when you are on the road.

Our model came with a panoramic sunroof (an optional extra) that stretched from the front to the rear seat and flooded the car with extra light if you choose to open the blind.

In the back and there are three seats that comfortably accommodate three adults on a long journey with a fair amount of legroom. If the back seat is often visited by children, they have a lot of space.

A powered tailgate – which can be operated with the key or a button to the right of the steering column – facilitates access to the large trunk and as soon as you open it you can comfortably fit several large suitcases.

Back to the front seats, and during cold months you can take advantage of the heating function (sorry passengers in the back seat, no heated seats for you), and the driver can also benefit from a heated steering wheel.

On the roof, next to the sliders, there is a storage area for sunglasses that actually has a useful second function. Press the panel and it will open, so that you can grab or store your sunglasses, but click on it once and you will notice that it has an additional rear view mirror, allowing driver and front passenger to monitor the children in the rear.

Our Honda CR-V was a four-wheel drive (AWD) model that offered good traction and balance on the road. The ride went smoothly and turns felt stable with what felt like a good weight distribution, making steering the CR-V easier.

Acceleration is good, but it's not the sharpest response to your right foot. However, once it is caught up, the CR-V moves at a good pace. The automatic gearbox does its job well, but for those who want more control, you can choose to use the paddle shift gear levers that are mounted just behind the wheel.

Although a 2.0-liter engine is central to the Honda CR-V, it also has a self-charging battery as part of its hybrid setup. The result is a larger range of a single fuel tank, and we could easily reach more than 500 miles between tank stops.

You can also choose to go fully electric with the EV mode, although the Honda CR-V can only travel a handful of kilometers in this mode, so for something longer than going to the shops, the gasoline engine is needed.

However, something that surprised us a bit was the receiver. For such a large car, the sound is surprisingly weak on the Honda CR-V. Press it upset and it won't do much to uplift your mood!

Honda CR-V technology and specifications

As we mentioned, the EX-trim of the Honda CR-V comes with a lot of technology. There are the heated seats and wheels, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, air conditioning, electric tailgate, rear view camera, parking sensors and cruise control to help us on our way.

Cruise control on the CR-V also comes alongside the adaptive lane assistant, which means that the car will keep you in the lane as you begin to drive to the lines by gently pulling the wheel in the right direction.

It is one of the better lane assistant functions we have used, with the CR-V doing a surprisingly good job of following the curvature of the road.

You have to keep a hand on the steering wheel that resists, otherwise you will get a flashing visual warning on the dashboard and, if you ignore it for too long, an audible tone indicating that you should pay attention and your hands on the steering wheel.

Both cruise control and lane assistants take a moment to learn how to work, with the controls on the steering wheel of Honda not the most intuitive there is. After a few attempts, we worked out the required combination of presses, but it could be a little easier.

The controls on the wheel can be a bit confusing

Similarly, the heads-up display (HUD) was not immediately clear, because it was not switched on for us by default. There was a HUD button on the wheel, but that didn't make the display possible. Instead, there was a separate button to the right of the wheel that needed to be pressed.

This saw a small glass window rise between the wheel and the windshield and provide you with information such as the current speed, speed limit and the next navigation direction.

It worked well, putting this useful information in your eye line of the road, which meant that we didn't have to look at the instrument panel all the time – which in turn made us a safer driver.

The instrument panel on the Honda CR-V is completely digital, which means that it can show you much more than just your speed, revs and fuel level. On the central display you can also see which music is currently playing, navigation directions, car statistics such as tire pressure and much more.

However, navigation through the menus for this screen is a bit awkward, making it difficult to work your way to what you want. Over time, we have become more familiar with the required navigation, but they can do better.

Shift focus to the large 7-inch touchscreen display on top of the center console and there's plenty of room to view maps, audio channels, and more.

The touchscreen requires a certain amount of power from your taps to register – it does not respond as quickly as your smartphone screen – but it generally works well.

The built-in satellite navigation system from Honda does its job, but it is not as good as Google Maps or Apple Maps. The good news is that you can connect your smartphone to the Honda CR-V and use the special map and audio apps on the touchscreen of the car thanks to the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The real bonus here on the CR-V, however, is that the navigation directions of the map app of your smartphone are forwarded to the digital display in the instrument panel and the HUD.

This does not happen in all vehicles, whereby many third-party navigation services are only stored on the main screen. It means it's just as easy to follow directions from Google or Apple as it is from Honda, and it makes for a much better driving experience.

And to ensure that you and your passengers charge their devices, the Honda CR-V comes with two USB ports on the front and two on the back.

  • John McCann is behind the wheel to give you an alternative view of the wealth of cars – and the technology inside – that is available today. From super-fast sports cars to technology-packed hatchbacks, he takes you through a series of brands, models, power and price tags in his regular TR Drives column.
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