Review

Honda CR-V SUV

£22,775 - £36,210

The CR-V name has been a staple of the Honda line-up for over two decades now, becoming firmly established among families. They love it for its versatile, high-quality interior and low running costs, as well as its ease of use and reliability. Its good reputation and popularity also mean it maintains a good proportion of its value on the used market, comparing well in this regard with more expensive rivals like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

Like those cars, the CR-V has the butch looks of an off-roader, but it's really optimised to stay on the tarmac (although optional four-wheel drive does make it capable on a slippery campsite, as well as good at towing). Some newer rivals, including the Nissan Qashqai, are famed for their economy. However, the CR-V is kept competitive by its efficient diesel engine and nine-speed automatic gearbox.

The CR-V certainly feels spacious and its seats can be configured in several ways to allow for extra luggage carrying capacity if needed. With the rear seats folded down – a simple procedure – the large load area has a flat floor and more load capacity than all its compact SUV rivals.

The engine choices are a 153bhp 2.0-litre petrol or one of two 1.6-litre diesels, with 118 or 158bhp. The 118bhp version's blend of economy and power makes it our recommendation, plus you can only buy the 158bhp version as a four-wheel drive, making it far more expensive. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, with an advanced nine-speed automatic available as an option. Whichever engine you choose the CR-V remains quiet and comfortable, holding onto the road well if not offering as much driving fun as the lighter, more agile Mazda CX-5.

There are several CR-V trim levels to choose from, ranging from S to EX, with additional S Navi and SE Navi models, whose names denote the presence of sat nav. All models are generously equipped, with climate control, DAB radio, cruise control and alloy wheels standard across the range. Our pick is the SE, which is made particularly useable in everyday life by its parking sensors, Bluetooth phone connectivity, automatic lights and wipers and power-folding mirrors. The EX model boasts leather seats and a panoramic sunroof, but its price takes it into Mercedes GLA territory.

Safety is a traditional Honda CR-V strong suit, and the car earned a full five-star rating in Euro NCAP's independent crash tests, with features like autonomous emergency braking coming as standard. You can make the car even safer with an optional ‘Driver Assistance Safety Pack’, which includes a collision-warning system featuring cross-traffic assistance (which warns of approaching vehicles when you’re reversing out of a space). You can also add an active cruise-control system that locks on to the car in front and automatically maintains a safe distance.

The well-established Honda CR-V deserves to remain popular, as its blend of versatility, economy and safety add up to a car with strong family appeal