Honda CR-V review
The Honda CR-V is spacious, has a big boot and is comfortable in town, but its quality is questionable in areas and it has one of the worst infotainment systems on sale.
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The Honda CR-V is a spacious family SUV that has struck its own path when it comes to engines – unlike with almost all of its close rivals, you can’t get a diesel and you can only choose between petrol or hybrid.
Think of it like that kid in the class at school that brought in fruit and veg when everyone else brought in chocolate.
The Honda CR-V stands out in terms of the way it looks too. It’s got a muscular appearance and sits relatively high up from the ground for better off-road ability. As you work your way up through the range you’ll get bigger alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and roof rails, while range-toppers have more shiny exterior trim than Trump’s presidential limo, which may not be to everyone’s liking.
Inside there are more questionable touches, such as Honda’s fake wood trim fitted to every model. Still, you can swap it out for a little extra and the rest of the dashboard is nicely designed with soft-touch plastics and leatherette in abundance. Well, that’s the case higher up on the dash and doors anyway. The lower part of the doors and centre console aren’t as sturdy.
It’s not even worth considering the entry-level infotainment system on S models because it’s extremely basic – you’re better off going for an SE model or higher. From that point on the range you get a 7-inch touchscreen system with sat-nav, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These smartphone mirroring systems prove their worth more in the CR-V than they do in other cars because the Honda’s native menu system is very difficult to navigate.
The infotainment system is pretty poor on the CR-V, but the Honda offers a great amount of interior practicality
Even very tall passengers sitting in the front seats are able to stretch out and get comfy while you get a wide range of steering wheel and seat and adjustment. On some versions this is manual while others offer electric adjustment. You’ll be happy in the back too, with plenty of headroom and loads of space between their knees and the front seats.
On seven-seat models the third row is probably best left to smaller passengers – a Kia Sorento is far better at transporting seven people. Frustratingly there are no levers for dropping the seats from the boot either – you have to walk around to the side door to fold them down. Still, at least the boot itself has great access, is a good even, square shape and is big compared with those in rivals.
The petrol CR-V gets a 1.5-litre engine with 173hp. It’s quite swift, but if you want to go quickly then it can get a bit noisy, especially if you’ve gone for the CVT auto gearbox. The Honda CR-V Hybrid model is silent at low speeds when running on electricity, but if you want all of its 184hp for overtaking then a 2.0-litre petrol engine joins in. The Hybrid is the quicker of the two in a sprint, but also the more fuel efficient, so long as you drive it properly that is.
Whichever engine you pick, you’ll find the CR-V easy to drive around town thanks to the good visibility and light steering. The soft suspension helps iron out most lumps and bumps, too. If you head around some country corners then the CR-V does lean quite a bit, but it has a good amount of grip, too. It’s comfortable on the motorway, too, but it allows quite a bit of wind and road noise inside on the move.
All told, there are better SUVs for carrying seven and better infotainment systems available but the Honda CR-V ticks enough boxes to be worth considering, especially if you know you want hybrid power. Check out our Honda CR-V deals for the very best prices.
The Honda CR-V seats four adults with ease and its boot will swallow lots of luggage, but there are better cars at seating seven and ultimately bigger boots if you need it.
The CR-V puts in a strong showing for space, even if there are ultimately more spacious SUVs for those who require it. There are some frustrating practicality failings, though.
Even very tall passengers are able to stretch out in the front seats of the Honda CR-V while the driver gets a wide range of seat and wheel adjustment, whether it be manual or electric – dependent on the trim.
Behind them, another couple of tall adults will have plenty of headroom – even in models with the panoramic sunroof fitted – and loads of space for their legs behind the front seats. The raised middle seat means you’ll find it a little uncomfortable if you end up with three passengers in the back though.
It’s worth noting that five-seat models have a lower-set rear bench which is designed to improve headroom. The seven-seat car’s middle row sits slightly higher because it can be folded over and slid to let you get into the third row. That said, it’s a bit of a faff to do.
And on the subject of that third row, it’s probably best left to smaller passengers. An adult of average height will just about squeeze in but will start to moan on a long trip. A Kia Sorento is far better if you need to carry seven people regularly.
The Honda CR-V is a proper family car in that there are loads of places to throw your odds and ends.
The glove box isn’t stand-out for the class but is generous enough, while the front door bins will easily take a 1.5-litre water bottle.
In the central console you get a deep cubby that is perfect for taking things like your phone, keys or wallet then a couple of cupholders. There’s also a deeper cubby with removable cover in front of a central armrest, and yet more space beneath the armrest itself.
The back door bins will also take a smaller water bottle and there’s a pull-down armrest on the back seats with a pair of cupholders on it, although there’s no ski hatch.
Annoyingly, the seven-seat CR-V’s rearmost seats leave a lump in the boot floor when you fold them down. Honda has tried to counter this with an adjustable boot floor section but it is small and awkwardly designed.
It’s also frustrating that you don’t get levers on the boot sides for folding down the rear seats easily and that seven-seat cars don’t come with any kind of tonneau cover for hiding your valuables.
Still, at least the boot itself is a good size at 561 litres, has a square shape and great access, easily swallowing two large suitcases, a set of golf clubs or a large pushchair. Folding the rear seats will allow a bicycle to go in without taking its wheels off too.
Bear in mind, though, that if you need even more space, a Skoda Kodiaq’s boot is 20% bigger again.
The Honda CR-V is one of the few in its class to offer a hybrid model, and all models are comfortable to drive. You might be put off by the lack of a diesel though
You’ll never be gagging to drive the CR-V, but it grips well and is comfy in town. Shame its petrol engine is noisy and there’s wind and road noise on the motorway.
There are just the two engines to choose from in the Honda CR-V – a 173hp 1.5-litre petrol or a 184hp 2.0-litre petrol/electric hybrid model.
The petrol comes with a choice of two or four-wheel drive and a six-speed manual or CVT automatic gearbox. You get a decent level of performance, but it makes quite a bit of noise when you push it hard. This is especially true if you go for the CVT auto gearbox, which holds the revs high when you accelerate.
The CR-V Hybrid model is silent at low speeds when running on battery power and electric motors alone, but if you want to use all of its power for overtaking, the petrol engine fires up and joins in. As such, the Hybrid is quicker in a sprint, but also the more fuel efficient – if driven properly.
Whichever engine you pick, the CR-V’s good visibility and light steering make it an easy car to drive around town, while the soft suspension helps iron out most lumps and bumps.
SE models and above come with both front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera, which helps guide the CR-V into parking spaces. Another reason to avoid that entry-level model…
Head onto a country road and the CR-V handles in the way you’d expect a tall SUV to do – it leans quite a bit and its steering isn’t the last word in precision, either. You’re better off easing off and enjoying the way it irons out bumps.
It’s comfortable on the motorway, too, but it allows quite a bit of wind and road noise inside at higher speeds.
The Honda CR-V’s standard wood trim looks something from a bygone age and, lower down, its plastics are scratchy, while its infotainment system is one of the very worst on sale today.
Honda CR-V colours
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