Honda CR-V SUV review (2018-2023)
“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 has become one of the best selling SUVs thanks to its family-friendly size, attractive features and impressive reliability. For the model that launched in 2018, Honda gave the car an exterior and interior design makeover, and ditched petrol and diesel engines to make way for its e:HEV hybrid system, which means lower tailpipe emissions.
The car’s badges now have a blue halo to help buyers spot the difference, and there are silver trim highlights dotted around the interior. A revised alloy wheel design helps to set the hybrid apart, along with a new set of rear lights that are wider than before. One criticism, though, is that Honda seems to have decided not to give the CR-V a mid-life facelift, so it’s starting to look rather dated – not ideal when the mid-sized SUV market is so incredibly competitive. Instead, it’s likely the CR-V will be replaced with a new model in 2023.
The CR-V has increased in length over time, with a greater distance between the front and rear wheels. The latter is particularly important because it results in more room for passengers. This CR-V was initially available with seven seats for the first time in its history but the battery required for the e:HEV hybrid system means only five seats can be fitted in this version. As it's now the only one offered, the seven seater has effectively been discontinued. Most rivals like the Hyundai Tucson, Peugeot 3008, Nissan Qashqai and Skoda Karoq are also limited to five seats.
Much like its Mazda CX-5 rival, the current Honda CR-V has taken a step upmarket for its latest incarnation. The newest model is more expensive, features a plusher interior, and top-spec models cost just over £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 1,638-1,694 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, even if it lacks the fun of the Ford Kuga. The CR-V’s suspension has also been well calibrated to soak up the bumps typical on British roads without causing too much fuss, so if comfort is your priority, the Honda is worth a test drive.
The engine range consists of a hybrid producing 181bhp, with similar grunt to a diesel engine. It's reasonably fast – 0-62mph takes as little as 8.6 seconds – and should be slightly cheaper to run, too. Efficiency figures are up to 42.8mpg and 151g/km of CO2 for the front-wheel-drive hybrid model, and 39.8mpg 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 the ownership proposition: this is a real CR-V strong point, according to our Driver Power owner survey, where the CR-V came seventh out of the top 75 models. 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.