Seven really is the magic number when it comes to practical family utility vehicles. It makes sense, as families in the Philippines tend to be larger than just five, and that's where Honda has just come in.

The result is this: the Honda CR-V that comes with one key, new feature: a removable third row bench seat. This isn't actually the first time the CR-V expanded beyond the usual five-seater layout. If memory serves, just over a decade ago Honda began offering the 2nd generation CR-V as a “10-seater” with 3 in front, 3 in the middle row and 4 aboard the two side facing bench seats in the back. Remember that? It was done to fall under the AUV category. This time its different though, as the third row in the new CR-V is strictly an option. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Design-wise, the 2013 CR-V we're testing isn't very different from the previous ones we tested. It looks conservative in comparison to some of its competition (i.e. Tucson, RAV4, Sportage), but that's not a bad thing; in fact, the CR-V is one of the best selling nameplates in its class.

The cabin is likewise unchanged, but one thing that the CR-V definitely has going for it. The materials used on the dashboard, the leather, the buttons and fabrics all feel and give that feel of quality. Also, given the proportions of the CR-V's body, the cabin can easily be the roomiest in its category in terms of leg, hip, elbow and head room.

The front seats of the CR-V are some of the plushest amongst its competitors, along with a 2nd row that is quite comfortable. This model has the optional, removable third row fitted. One thing: don't expect too much of it, as there isn't much legroom there to mention. It's really best left for rowdy kids given the lack of a recessed footwell for comfort on long drives. The third row does fold relatively flat for cargo loading.

Powering this CR-V (plus two) is a 2.0 liter i-VTEC engine with a 5-speed automatic driving the front wheels. In terms of output, the 2.0 CR-V makes 155 PS and 190 Newton-meters of torque. It's not quick, but it's efficient given the size. 8.0 km/l in the city is very doable, though that could easily go up depending on traffic conditions. 12.5 on the highway is about right, but again, that's with a 100 km/h cruise.

The CR-V also drives smoothly over all kinds of roads. The suspension is biased towards comfort, and is perfect for the metro's rough concrete roads and bumpy asphalt. Handling is decent and confident, but it's not too high of a priority. If anything, this crossover does justice to what it's badging means: comfortable runabout vehicle.

The 2013 Honda CR-V is still the efficient, comfortable and well refined vehicle that it was intended to be. The third row may not be perfect, but the option to seat another two (small) persons will probably come in handy for many families out there.