Honda CR-V SUV
“The latest Honda CR-V shuns diesel in favour of petrol and hybrid engines. It now has five or seven seats and improved safety technology as standard”
- Reliable and safe
- Five or seven seats
- Practical interior for families
- Third-row seats only for kids
- Petrol is pricey to run
- No diesel engine
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 engines in favour of a small turbocharged petrol engine and a petrol-electric hybrid model.
It has a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) than before, which allows customers to choose seven seats – the first time a CR-V has had more than five seats. The third row is only really big enough for kids, though, so the car is best thought of as a 5+2 like the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Still, the additional seats give the CR-V a point of distinction against the crop of five-seat-only rivals like 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.
Despite shrinking slightly from 589 to 536 litres for this generation, the CR-V’s boot is still one of the biggest in its class; there are huge reserves of head and kneeroom for five occupants and lots of cubby spaces. Fold the rear seats and a huge 1,786 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 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC petrol engine and a 2.0-litre petrol hybrid, which we've reviewed separately. The petrol is offered with 171bhp, front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox, or 190bhp, four-wheel drive and a CVT (continuously variable transmission) automatic, with the latter getting from 0-62mph in a reasonable 9.3 seconds. Unlike in the lighter Honda Civic, the 1.5-litre can feel a bit strained in the CR-V, making itself heard if you put your foot down. The hybrid produces 141bhp but offers similar grunt to a diesel engine. It's faster - 0-62mph takes 8.8 seconds - and should be slightly cheaper to run, too, because efficiency figures of up to 36.2mpg and 178-201g/km of CO2 for the four-wheel-drive petrol CR-V are higher than those of many rivals. The hybrid model officially manages up to 40.9mpg, making it a better choice for high-mileage drivers in the absence of a diesel model.
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.