What is it?
Honda has a thing about keeping nameplates running for a long time. Take the Civic, which is entering its 11th generation, while the Accord (which is no longer sold in Europe) is now in its tenth.
Though the brand’s CR-V doesn’t have quite such a long history, this SUV has been around since 1996, and entered its fifth generation a few years ago. It’s also more recently been future-proofed with a new hybrid powertrain. Honda has now lightly tweaked it, but is it worth considering in the increasingly popular SUV market?
Though the CR-V debuted with a choice of petrol and hybrid powertrains, Honda has now axed the standard petrol as part of its European plans to electrify its full range – you can already only buy a Honda as a full hybrid or an EV. The CR-V also adopts the brand’s ‘e:HEV’ badging, while new blue logos aim to subtly emphasise the ‘hybrid’ element.
Other changes are quite small, with new silver detailing aiming to add to the interior quality, while both the steering and suspension have been revised with the aim of improving both handling and low-speed manoeuvrability.
What’s under the bonnet?
For the CR-V’s hybrid powertrain, Honda pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine together with an electric motor for a combined 181bhp and 315Nm of torque. A CVT powertrain is also used, with a choice of front- or all-wheel-drive on offer – our test car getting the latter.
Getting to 60mph takes nine seconds flat, while it would keep going to a top speed of 112mph. As for efficiency, this hybrid isn’t as efficient as you might hope, with Honda claiming just 39.2mpg for this all-wheel-drive car, though 129g/km CO2 emissions are low for a vehicle of this type. Front-wheel-drive cars will be better on fuel, but only by a small margin, and it’s certainly no substitute for the 50mpg-plus that you might get from a similarly-sized diesel SUV.
What’s it like to drive?
The CR-V Hybrid was never engineered to be the sharpest-driving SUV, and it instead prioritises comfort. You can see that by the fact the largest alloys available are 18 inches, and as a result the overall ride is impressive, soaking bumps up in the road well and not being unsettled by potholes.
The extra zip from the electric motor is welcome too, while around town it can travel a few miles at a time on electric in certain conditions – such as at a steady 30mph through a town or village. The battery is also able to quickly recharge, while the regenerative braking feature, which is adjusted with the paddles on the steering wheel, is one of the best in any hybrid, and is close to allowing for ‘one-pedal driving’. It’s not perfect, though, as the switch from electric to petrol power isn’t the smoothest, while the engine is unpleasantly noisy under heavy acceleration.
How does it look?
Honda hasn’t really changed the CR-V’s design as part of this update, but it remains a smart design. It’s not a car that shouts about the way it looks, but attractive LED lights at the front and large vertical LED rear lights give this SUV plenty of presence.
There’s just the right amount of chrome detailing on show, too, such as on the grille and side sills, while the plastic cladding to paint ratio is spot on – it’s not as overdone as some rivals. All cars also come with the same 18-inch alloy wheels, which ensure that, whether you’re choosing the top or bottom spec, the CR-V still has plenty of street cred.
What’s it like inside?
It’s a real mixed bag in the CR-V’s interior. Let’s start with space, which is something that it’s certainly not lacking. Though you could get a third row of seats in the old petrol car, the hybrid model is just offered with five seats, but that’s pretty commonplace in this class. There’s a huge amount of rear seat room though, even with a panoramic glass roof fitted, and the boot is a very practical shape. The seats fold completely flat too.
The interior quality generally feels excellent as well, with the CR-V having a very sturdy – if not especially premium – feel. There are aspects that let it down, though, with the doors having a cheap tinny feel to them when they shut, while the eight-inch touchscreen isn’t far short of awful. It’s slow and hard to operate, though it does have Apple CarPlay and Android smartphone mirroring, which is what you should use to avoid wasting hours trying to circumnavigate your way through the screen’s many menus.
What’s the spec like?
Honda offers a decent amount of kit as standard on the CR-V, with entry-level S cars coming with keyless entry, climate control and adaptive cruise control, but we’d personally recommend the mid-range SR. This brings leather and heated front seats, along with more attractive roof rails and blind spot monitoring. These two trim levels start from £31,555 and £35,865 respectively.
Our range-topping EX car certainly got all the bells and whistles, including a head-up display, hands free electric boot and a panoramic glass sunroof, though it tips the scales at more than £40,000, which makes the CR-V look quite expensive.
Honda’s CR-V Hybrid is a car that will tick plenty of boxes for many family SUV buyers. It’s practical, well-built and very comfortable, whether you’re pottering around town on the school run or doing longer trips. Stick to a mid-range trim level and it’s decent value considering the equipment on offer too.
It’s not the complete package, however, as it’s not as efficient on fuel as you’d hope. But the main sticking point is the touchscreen, which really is poor and takes the shine off what is an otherwise very appealing SUV. It’s most certainly a job for the next time the CR-V gets an update…