Honda CR-V SUV review
“The latest Honda CR-V shuns diesel and petrol in favour of a hybrid powertrain. This makes it smooth and efficient, but its passenger and towing capacity takes a dive”
- Reliable and safe
- Smooth driving experience
- Practical interior for families
- No third-row seats
- No engine choice
- 750kg towing limit
The Honda CR-V is one of the world’s best-selling SUVs, thanks to its combination of reliability, practicality and affordability. The latest model has subtly updated looks for improved appeal inside and out but has ditched diesel and petrol engines in favour of a petrol-electric hybrid model badged e:HEV.
As part of the switch, it now gets blue-ringed 'H' badges to highlight the hybrid powertrain, along with new silver highlights for the centre console, doors and dashboard. There's also a new design of 18-inch alloy wheels for all trim levels.
The CR-V has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than before, which meant the car was offered with seven seats for a while. The third row was only really big enough for kids and couldn’t be fitted to the hybrid version because of the space taken up by the battery. This meant the seven-seat version was effectively discontinued when the hybrid CR-V became the only version on sale in December 2020. However, most rivals only offer five seats, including the Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai, Skoda Karoq and BMW X1.
Much like its Mazda CX-5 rival, the new Honda CR-V has taken a step upmarket for its latest incarnation. The newest model is more expensive, features a plusher interior and gets that seven-seat upgrade. Top-spec models cost nearly £40,000, which puts the CR-V in contention with some established premium SUVs.
There are huge reserves of head and knee room for five occupants and lots of cubby spaces. However, the boot has shrunk from 589 to 497 litres for this generation because the hybrid powertrain takes up more space under the car. Fold the rear seats and a huge 1,697 litres of space opens up – it’s easy to do so thanks to a mechanism that sees the back bench fold with one tug.
The CR-V is mainly intended for family duties, but Honda has also sharpened up the driving experience. The steering now responds much more quickly and precisely, eliminating much of the vague feeling associated with driving older SUVs. The CR-V’s suspension has also been well calibrated to soak up the bumps typical on British roads without causing too much fuss.
The engine range consists of a hybrid producing 181bhp, with similar grunt to a diesel engine. It's reasonably fast - 0-62mph takes 8.8 seconds - and should be slightly cheaper to run, too. Efficiency figures are up to 42.2mpg and 151g/km of CO2 for the front-wheel-drive hybrid model, and 39.2mpg with 161g/km for the four-wheel drive version. However, the hybrid can only tow up to 750kg, so the CR-V will be off the shopping list for caravanners.
What shouldn’t be in question is reliability: this is a real CR-V strong point, according to our Driver Power owner survey. Safety is also excellent, as the Honda Sensing suite of active technology like autonomous emergency braking and lane-departure warning is standard across every trim level.
The Honda CR-V might not have the appealing image of the Land Rover Discovery Sport, or even the Volkswagen Tiguan, but crucial improvements to the way it drives, the option of seven seats and improved safety all make it an attractive proposition.