Honda CR-V SUV - Engines, drive & performance
The steering and suspension of the latest Honda CR-V are a big improvement, but the engine can feel strained
Honda has made significant improvements to the way the CR-V drives, replacing its steering system so feedback is much sharper, with a 26% reduction in turning the wheel from lock to lock compared to the old model. It's much better than the vague feeling of the old car and the suspension is well equipped to deal with British roads, soaking up potholes and refusing to jolt or feel too crashy.
The trade-off for the CR-V’s better ride is increased roll when cornering; Honda has put its emphasis on comfort rather than outright handling. If you prefer a sportier driving experience from your SUV, a BMW X1 is a better bet. The CR-V comes into its own on the motorway, however – there’s a great view ahead thanks to the high driving position and there’s barely any wind or engine noise when on the move.
Honda CR-V petrol engine
We've been impressed with Honda's 1.5-litre turbocharged VTEC petrol engine in the Civic, rating it as one of the best family hatchbacks to drive. However, the same engine isn’t quite as enjoyable here, because while it allows relaxed cruising, you need to summon its power more frequently and it can become fairly vocal when you do. The CVT automatic feels a little smoother than the manual in this regard; the engine in the manual proved slightly louder again. However, the CVT doesn’t like to be rushed; it’s best treated with gentle throttle inputs that suit the car’s relaxed demeanour. When you need to press hard on the accelerator (on a motorway on-slip, for example), the revs flare up and it can be quite noisy.
Power from the 1.5-litre varies slightly depending on which gearbox you choose, with the manual getting 171bhp and the CVT version 187bhp and slightly more torque. Due to the four-wheel-drive system and automatic gearbox, the smaller engine is actually quicker - it takes 9.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph and has a top speed of 130mph, compared to 9.8 seconds and a 124mph top speed for the 187bhp version.
The CR-V is also offered with a hybrid powertrain, effectively replacing the diesel that’s been part of the CR-V range until the latest version was announced. It's powered by a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and two electric motors, and produces 141bhp. In this model, 0-62mph takes 8.8 seconds but the top speed is limited to 112mph.