The Honda CR-V copes with potholes and bumps better than most large family SUVs but it’s a little roly-poly in the corners and diesel models grumble when you accelerate hard
You can get the Honda CR-V with one diesel and two petrol engines and with either a manual or automatic gearbox. You can also get it with four-wheel drive (for a little more grip) if you’re happy to pay extra.
A 2.0-litre petrol model with two-wheel drive will be your best bet if you do plenty of town driving. It’s smoother than the 1.6-litre diesel versions and grumbles less when you accelerate. It’s not particularly frugal, however – it’ll return around 30mpg compared to Honda’s claimed 39.2mpg.
The 120hp 1.6-litre diesel is a touch more efficient (it’ll return around 55mpg in real-world conditions) but it’s very sluggish. If you do lots of motorway miles, you’ll be much better off with the 160hp version. It’s perky enough to keep up with fast moving traffic and will return approximately 45mpg in normal driving conditions.
The Honda CR-V looks a bit like the before photo in a family car diet plan – it’s far from the most sprightly SUV out there and entry-level diesel models are sluggish at best
You get four-wheel drive as standard on 2.0-litre petrol models fitted with an automatic gearbox and it’s available on 160hp diesel models for an extra £2,000. It’ll give you a little extra grip in slippery conditions – handy if you plan to tow a trailer – but the more efficient two-wheel-drive models are more than surefooted enough for most situations.
The optional nine-speed auto offered on Honda CR-V diesel cars is smoother and feels much more responsive than the five-speed automatic. It’s not quite as quick at changing gears as the dual-clutch automatic available in the VW Tiguan but it’s smoother at slow speeds.
The Honda CR-V’s raised driving position gives you a good view of the road ahead. It might be a large car, but its light steering helps make it reasonably easy to manoeuvre around town and the pillars between the front doors and the windscreen don’t create any particularly large blindspots.
All but entry-level S cars come with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera too, so it’s relatively easy to squeeze the big Honda into fairly tight parking spaces.
The Honda CR-V’s suspension does a very good job of smoothing out bumps in the road – especially S and SE models fitted with smaller 17-inch alloy wheels. It’s more comfortable than both the Toyota RAV4 and VW Tiguan on rutted roads and is fairly quiet at motorway speeds. You’ll hear a slight wind noise (coming from the Honda CR-V’s giant wing mirrors) but tyre noise is mostly muted.
Unfortunately, the Honda CR-V leans quite a lot in tight corners and its light steering feels only vaguely connected to the front wheels. As a result, the Honda feels like a much larger car than the VW Tiguan, especially on a twisty country road.
All models come with automatic emergency city braking which helped the CR-V achieve a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating back in 2013. It’s worth noting that recent tests are much stricter, so newer five-star-rated cars (such as the VW Tiguan) will provide more protection in a crash.
For extra peace of mind you should consider the optional Driver Assistance Safety pack. It’ll set you back between £560 and £700 (depending on which model you pick) but it comes with traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning and a system that’ll warn you if there’s an obstacle in the road ahead. Top-spec Honda CR-V EX cars even come with the option of a Sensing pack (for £900) that includes adaptive cruise control that can match the speed of the car in front before returning to a preset cruising speed when the road is clear.