ONE’S AN ‘edgy’ design of SUV, while the other is accepted as one of the mainstays of the smaller, ‘soft-roader’ SUV market – yet they offer much the same in terms of customer satisfaction. It really just depends what you want in the first place.

Let’s go for the established one first. Honda’s CR-V is a best-selling model for the brand and its 2015 overhaul has given it a more purposeful look and some pretty exciting hardware for this sector of the market. Plus, it’s made in good old Britain.

These days, ‘greening’ is a given when a new model is launched and the Honda has some clever engine and transmission options which achieve that aim very well. None more so than on a recently tested 1.6 i-DTEC engine mated to a new nine-speed (yes, nine). It’s a combo that should see you on the right side of 50mpg, yet also deliver a reasonable performance, without being too scary.

This twin-turbo diesel unit of 158bhp replaces a well-proven 2.2-litre engine, yet delivers slightly more horses and some punchy torque figures. That excellent nine-speed box is great for motorway driving, yet sensitive enough to cope with more rural roads, though it can occasionally be felt to be ‘between’ gears. It also has a rather fiddly, dash-mounted gear-knob which takes a bit of getting used to

The CR-V was never one with outstanding handling and while Honda has sharpened this up somewhat, it still has the air of a solid family-type vehicle than something to appeal to the more sporty driver. But that’s part of its appeal too for many buyers who want practical over exciting.

In the cabin, it’s much of the same. A feeling of comfort and solidity and the innovative Android-based ‘infotainment’ system, Honda Connect. Some of these need the art of the teenager to get the most out of them, but the Honda system is quite intuitive and easy to use even for techno-phobes.

The EX specification on the test model is top of the range and this adds luxuries like leather seats and a host of extras like a powered tailgate, electric seat shifting and a full-length sunroof, with powered blind.

At £34k for the model tested, it’s not cheap. But Honda’s have a name for good residuals and at the end of the day that makes it stand up to the rest of the competition which includes Audi’s Q5 and the BMW X3.

But one newcomer that certainly stands out from that pack apart in terms of looks is Lexus NX.

This radical design makes it a stand out from the rest of the crowd in this sector and it is also matched by some pretty nifty technology to add appeal. Available with a petrol engine or, as you fully expect from Lexus, a petrol/electric hybrid, the NX might not appeal to some because it does not have a diesel option.

The test vehicle was the 300h Luxury version, where the ‘h’ denotes its hybrid technology. Fitted with the same 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit from the Lexus IS 300h saloon, this just about matches the Honda for fuel economy, but has some ultra-low CO2 emission levels which will keep benefit in kind tax levels down.

The hybrids are all matched to a CVT automatic transmission (though a 2.0-litre petrol and 2WD version has a six-speed manual) which proves to be pretty good on the road. I’m not a great fan of CVTs which, in my mind do a lot of huffing and puffing to achieve what even a moderate auto box can do, but this one was quieter and smoother than most.

That said, it is still no match for the Honda’s nine-speed auto and if there was one thing that let the Lexus down, then it was in this department.

Where it scores though, is inside the vehicle with a host of bits and pieces included in the standard spec’ and even more so for the Luxury designation. All get alloy wheels and auto-dip headlamps, while the better spec’ adds some really nice leather all round, slivered inserts and a smarter touchscreen control system which, like the Honda, was really easy to use.

The Honda CR-V very practical and has 589 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place. With these folded down, load space grows to 1669 litres.On the Lexus the corresponding figures are 475 litres and 1520 litres. The towing figure for both is a measly 1500kg (braked).

At £34.5k, the Lexus is more expensive than the Honda and I’d say the only way that you would favour the Lexus over the Honda would be if you wanted something that bit more edgy in styling. If the Lexus had been given a decent auto gearbox then the margin between the two would have been closer, but in that respect alone it’s a no brainer in favour of the Honda.