“Well-built, safe and spacious, the Honda CR-V is a reliable, comfortable SUV.”
If you don’t want to go off-roading, but still need everything else offered by a compact 4x4, the CR-V is a fine choice. It has a commanding driving position and a real feeling of security in city traffic. Honda's legendary record for reliability means it won’t let you down, and the company has also added all manner of safety equipment. The downside is that there are only five seats and the suspension can be little firm. Remember the CR-V is more of a road car than a traditional 4x4 with a comfortable set-up.
Two 148bhp engines are available – a 2.0 petrol and a 2.2-litre i-DTEC turbodiesel. The latter is the sensible choice as it has lots of performance and is cheaper to run. It's also more competent for towing. While the petrol engine is adequate, it has to be worked hard to get the CR-V going. Both have a six-speed manual gearbox; there's also an optional five-speed auto, which is mostly smooth, but can be reluctant to shift down. The CR-V handles well, with minimal body roll given its size, and light but accurate steering.
The CR-V has a slightly firmer ride than most 4x4s on the market, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. Although there's very little in the way of wind and engine noise on the move, owners will notice some roar from the tyres when travelling at motorway speeds. A panoramic glass roof is available as an optional extra – if you specify this, it lets loads of light into the cabin and makes it a pleasant place to be.
The CR-V got four stars for adult occupant protection and child protection in Euro NCAP crash tests. That's not the best in class, but there's still plenty of safety equipment, including an advanced stability control system that counteracts a snaking caravan or trailer that you might be towing. EX models get a Collision Mitigation Braking System that monitors the distance of the car in front and prepares the CR-V for impact if it senses an imminent collision. Hondas are known for their reliability and the CR-V upholds this.
With the rear seats in place the CR-V has a decent 556 litres of boot space. But the 955-litre capacity with them folded trails most other 4x4s and estates. Still, a panel can be moved around to create a useful two-tier space in the boot. Plus, the rear seats fold individually to make it easer to load large items. The flat floor means plenty of legroom for rear passengers, while headroom is generous. Access is easy all round and the rear seats slide to alternate between more space in the boot and better legroom for passengers.
Value for money
There are more affordable 4x4s, but the generous equipment makes the Honda a worthwhile buy. Entry-level SE models have electric windows all round, alloy wheels, air-conditioning and a multifunction steering wheel. ES spec adds rear privacy glass, front and rear parking sensors and dual-zone climate control. As there aren’t many used CR-Vs available, residuals are strong; nearly new cars should hold their price well.
Relatively speaking, petrol CR-Vs aren’t too costly to run given the car's size – expect 34.4mpg and emissions of 190g/km, which means £235 a year for Road Tax. But the diesel makes far more financial sense, with figures of 43.5mpg and 171g/km, so Road Tax is £180. Diesels are in greater demand and have higher resale values as a result.