£23,025 - £36,460 Price range
36 - 64 MPG
Although it’s often forgotten, the Honda CR-V is an excellent SUV alternative to models such as the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage, although its high-quality construction means it can also compete with posh SUVs such as the BMW X3.
In 2015 the CR-V was given a facelift with big changes including the introduction of a 1.6-litre diesel engine, offering better fuel economy than the old 2.2-litre model, and a new super-smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox.
The Honda badge arguably carries more kudos than any of its mainstream rivals and interior quality is close to the best in class. Practicality is one of the main reasons to buy a CR-V and it offers a huge boot, plus Honda’s clever Magic Seat folding mechanism.
To drive, the CR-V is surprisingly capable in the corners thanks to its direct steering and well-checked body control, although it isn’t as convincing as a Mazda CX-5 nor as comfortable as a Nissan Qashqai. The 1.6-litre diesel engine is surprisingly punchy for its size, but is also noisier than the 1.5-litre unit fitted to the Nissan.
The basic CR-V comes with plenty of equipment – DAB digital radio, climate control, cruise control and an infotainment system.
A new model has been spotted testing in prototype form. Check it out by reading our dedicated 2017 Honda CR-V price, specs and release date article.
For the most part, the cabin scores well. A high seating position and large windows mean the view out for drivers is “commanding” and offers good visibility, at least out the front.
While the interior lacks the quality of a BMW or Audi, it’s better than the one found in mainstream rivals such as the Ford Kuga. We love the 3D design of the car’s main instruments, and binnacle lighting that glows green or red (depending on how economically you drive) will come in handy to anyone looking to save money.
Although the CR-V has been facelifted the infotainment system makes it clear that it is based on an old design, thanks to its fiddly volume controls and the sat-nav’s propensity to have a mind of its own.
Honda CR-V passenger space
Its boxy SUV shape makes the Honda CR-V a spacious model for families. Up front there is loads of room for tall adults, but space in the rear is generous too. There you’ll find a floor with no transmission tunnel eating into foot space and a flat rear bench, both of which mean a third rear passenger sitting in the middle doesn’t feel too crushed.
Honda CR-V boot space
The large boot also wins plenty of fans, as does the ease of flipping down the rear seats for a full 1,669 litres of space. With the seats up there is 589-litres of space. For comparison the Nissan X-Trail can hold 550-litres with the seats up. A unique selling point among rivals is the CR-V’s Magic Seats system, which means the rear seat bases can be flipped up for carrying taller items.
Shrugging off bumps and poor road surfaces should be second nature to an SUV such as the CR-V, but in the top-of-the-range EX model we tested the ride was found a little wanting.
Its 18-inch wheels meant it crashed over bumps and tarmac ripples that a Nissan Qashqai would iron out. The steering was also surprisingly sensitive to cambers and broken road surfaces, with the wheel pulling and tugging in our hands in a way that felt quite unnatural for an SUV. On the motorway, too, the Honda’s engine noise and road roar means it plays second fiddle to its rival from Nissan.
In the bends, though,it proved to more than sufficient – the accurate steering makes it easy to place and there’s very little body lean for such a big car. In fact, its quite fun to hustle down a country road if you’re in the mood.
Honda CR-V automatic
Our test car came fitted with Honda’s new nine-speed automatic gearbox (a six-speed manual is standard) and for the most part it provides smooth changes and makes the most of the power offered by the 1.6-litre diesel engine.
There are three engine options for the CR-V a 2.0-litre petrol and the new 1.6-litre diesel available in two power levels.
Honda CR-V diesel engines
The higher power diesel produces 160hp, but more importantly it has a lot of pulling power that will be very useful when towing. It offers more shove than any of the engines available in the Nissan Qashqai, getting from 0-62mph in a respectable 9.6 seconds, but it isn’t quite as quiet as the 1.5-litre diesel offered in the Nissan. Annual road tax will cost £110 and Honda says it will return combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg.
The lower-powered version comes with 120hp, but is a true fuel efficiency champion thanks to fuel economy of 64.1mpg and an annual road tax bill of £30. The 0-62mph time of around 11 seconds is less worthy of note, though, and a Nissan Qashqai is even more fuel efficient, in its most fuel efficient form it can return more than 70mpg and costs just £20 to tax.
Honda CR-V petrol engines
We’ve yet to sample the petrol engine, but other reviewers praise its smoothness and hushed nature when cruising, but there’s little else to recommend about it. Even if you opt for the two-wheel-drive model, fuel economy won’t better 40mpg and CO2 emissions of 168g/km mean you’ll be faced with an annual road tax bill of £140.
The 2.0-litre engine produces 153hp and 142lb ft of torque. The 0-62mph sprint is completed ten seconds flat, while top speed is 118mph. Those aren’t particularly sparkling statistics, nor is its 39.2mpg combined economy figure, but for lower-mileage drivers it may be all that’s required.
The engine itself earns respect for its smoothness and willingness to rev - like all good Honda petrol engines. The gearshift too is praised, and the engine is very quiet at a cruise. For this sort of car though, the diesel will make more sense for most.
Most drivers find the diesel unit to be refined and punchy, though a few make comparisons with more modern diesels such as those from BMW - against which the Honda is a bit lacking in performance and refinement. At a cruise the Honda’s engine is quiet, though some say it can get a bit rough at higher revs.
Like the petrol, the precise manual gearbox wins plenty of fans, but the five-speed automatic option is described as a little dated.
Rightly or wrongly, lots of people buy SUVs assuming that they will be inherently safe due to their size and rugged build. Although those attributes will go a long way to keeping you safe in a collision, it takes more than a big heavy box to gain a top safety rating.
That said, the CR-V gets a full five-star rating for overall safety, where it scores especially well for adult occupant safety with Euro NCAP.
Among the slew of safety features you get on a CR-V are such things as stability control and traction control, trailer stability assist, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control and collision-mitigating braking, which is designed to apply the vehicle’s brakes if it thinks an accident is imminent.
Some CR-Vs are a little expensive to buy, particularly once you move up the range to better-equipped versions – where the price approaches that of some more prestigious rivals.
Our preferred trim would be the SE which adds parking sensors, automatic lights and wipers as well as Bluetooth phone connectivity. The most expensive EX trim comes with leather interior, sat-nav, a panoramic roof and keyless entry but takes the price of the CR-V up to premium rivals that are better in other areas.
Honda CR-V Black Edition
If you like the CR-V for its practical abilities, but always thought it looked, well, a bit too friendly, the Black Edition might be just the ticket. It replaces shiny exterior chrome for black trim pieces and gets unique 19-inch black alloy wheels. Inside, the black leather-upholstered seats are the first thing that grabs your attention not just because they look quite upmarket, but also because they sport the black edition logo. Leather also covers the door panels and centre armrest.
The Honda CR-V has a fight on it hands when it comes to holding of the attack of newer and cheaper-to-run models such as the Nissan Qashqai. On paper the Nissan looks to be the better choice for most.
What that fails to take account of, though, is the strength of the Honda badge, which has become a byword for reliability and innovation. That’s particularly evident in the interior that feels better built than the mainstream opposition and is infinitely practical for families.
The new 1.6-litre diesel engine might not match the fuel economy of the Nissan Qashqai, but it offers more grunt and is still pretty cheap to run and, while the driving experience isn’t as sharp as in a Mazda CX-5, the Honda can shrug off big motorway journeys with ease and put a bigger smile on you face than the Nissan. Anyone looking to buy a family SUV would still do well to consider the CR-V.