It's hard to believe, but the Honda CR-V name has been around for over two decades now. In that time, Honda's compact SUV has established itself as a firm family favourite, with low running costs, a high-quality interior and strong secondhand values making it a credible alternative to more expensive rivals like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
While the CR-V is available with two or four-wheel-drive, it's predominantly an on-road rather than off-road car. This is in keeping with many of its competitors. Newer cars like the Nissan Qashqai may be more economical, but the nine-speed automatic gearbox and fuel-efficient diesel engine available with the CR-V help it remain competitive.
The CR-V feels spacious inside, with a versatile seating system and a large boot that can be made even larger at the pull of a handle. This allows the rear seats to fold down, creating a flat load floor and giving the CR-V a bigger boot capacity than any other car in the compact SUV class.
Adding to the CR-V's family-friendly credentials is a comprehensive list of safety equipment, such as autonomous braking and an electronic stability programme, which both come as standard. Honda also offers an optional ‘Driver Assistance Safety Pack’; this includes a collision warning system and cross-traffic assistance, which warns you of vehicles approaching from the side. Active cruise control is also available, allowing the CR-V to automatically maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front when cruising.
The Honda CR-V is available with a 153bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine or two 1.6-litre diesels, which offer either 118 or 158bhp. We recommend the less powerful 118bhp diesel, as it provides a good mix of power and economy. The more powerful diesel engine is also only available with four-wheel-drive – an expensive option that few CR-V drivers will need.
Honda fits a six-speed gearbox as standard to the CR-V and there's also a modern nine-speed automatic available. While the CR-V is a comfortable and quiet car that grips the road well, it's not as much fun to drive as the lighter and more agile Mazda CX-5.
CR-V customers have a choice of six trim levels, ranging from S to EX – there are two models with standard sat nav, referred to as Navi. Standard equipment is generous across the CR-V range, with all cars having alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control and DAB digital radio.
Our pick of the range is the SE Navi: the Garmin sat-nav system, rear parking sensors, front foglights and Honda's CONNECT infotainment system make it a more useable car for day-to-day life. While the top-spec CR-V EX comes with a panoramic sunroof and leather seats, specifying a CR-V in this trim makes it almost as expensive as the more desirable Mercedes GLA-Class.
The Honda CR-V should be a reliable and safe car. It finished an impressive 21st out of 200 models in our 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and a host of standard driver aids such as autonomous braking and hill-start assistance, coupled with a full five stars in Euro NCAP crash-tests, attest to its safety credentials.