Honda CR-V review
The fourth-generation Honda CR-V is the best yet, with a practical cabin and comfortable ride
It wasn't until summer 2013 that the most efficient CR-V powerplant was introduced - Honda's super-efficient 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine. This unit made its debut in the latest generation Honda Civic, and is only available in front-wheel drive CR-V models.
On top of the efficient, 1.6 i-DTEC model, the CR-V range is made up of 2.0-litre VTEC petrol and 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engines, which are available across all trim levels. Those trim levels are S, S-T, SE, SE-T, SR and EX. Early in 2014, Honda also released the CR-V Black or White edition which features a performance-oriented bodykit.
Prior to the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel's introduction to the CR-V range, the only diesel powered CR-V was a four-wheel-drive 2.2 i-DTEC that's still available across all trim levels with the option of a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel-drive.
The petrol-powered CR-V is available in two or four-wheel drive guises, with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic gearbox.
In general, the Honda CR-V’s strengths lie in the practicality department with the versatile and spacious interior earning special praise. The 1.6 i-DTEC engine is an economical performer and probably the unit to choose as the comfort-orientated CR-V isn’t the most thrilling choice, even with more powerful engines fitted.
Our choice: CR-V 2.2 Diesel EX Manual
The previous generation Honda CR-V looked a little awkward from some angles, but the latest version has a cohesive, no-nonsense look about it. Compared to rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai and Mazda CX-5, though, the CR-V can look a little slab-sided.
Wraparound headlights and a grille featuring three prominent chrome bars contribute to a more aggressive front end compared to its predecessor, too.
Despite having greater dimensions than the Hyundai ix35, the Honda disguises its size well with a curving window line and high-set tail lights. Add in a sloping rear screen and the CR-V appears a stylish and attractive car.
The dash in the CR-V is less button-heavy than other models in the Honda range, and the quality of plastics used is good. While it isn't the most exciting interior to be in, you get a sense that it will cope easily with the demands of family life. The only major niggle is that the computer display - housed in the speedometer - looks a tad blocky compared to more recent rivals.
Honda has a strong history in building great engines, and the latest 1.6 i-DTEC diesel is one of its most impressive recent additions. The latest technology has been used to maximise efficiency in the CR-V, while it also delivers strong pace for a car of this size. However, this engine is only available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
The 1.6 i-DTEC is relatively quiet on start-up, with only a hint of diesel rattle. It remains a smooth and refined performer up to its 5,000rpm limiter. A shift light instructing when the driver should change gear has been fitted to improve efficiency and the six-speed gearbox is a pleasure to use thanks to precise gear changes. Buyers of the 2.2-litre i-DTEC also have the option of a five-speed automatic.
The rest of the CR-V's driving experience can't quite match the excellent engine, though. This compact SUV has been designed with practicality and comfort in mind, so there's not much fun to be had. The plus side of this setup is that bumps and potholes are soaked up well.
Grip is also decent, but the inside front wheels have a tendency spin if you get on the throttle mid-corner which, naturally, doesn't inspire confidence. If you want a more engaging Honda to drive with similar carrying capacity, it might be worth looking at the Volkswagen Golf rival, the Honda Civic.
As with most Japanese manufacturers, Honda has a strong reputation for building solid, reliable cars. It came in 13th place in the manufacturer rankings in our 2014 Driver Power survey, with the car itself placing in 35th position. Owners praised its reliability, practicality and comfort, and Honda's dealers are well regarded, too.
The CR-V is one of the safest compact SUVs you can buy thanks to its five-star Euro NCAP rating. Honda also provides six airbags, tyre pressure monitors, stability control with trailer assist, and three Isofix points as standard equipment.
Kit like xenon headlights and front and rear parking sensors is reserved for higher spec models, though.
The Honda CR-V is one of the most practical cars in the compact SUV class, and offers 589 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place. With these folded down, load space grows to 1,146 litres. More space is available under the retractable load cover too.
The wide tailgate opens lower than the previous generation, making loading larger items an easy process. The CR-V's party trick is a clever seat-folding setup, though. Pull a lightweight lever in the boot, and, in one fluid motion, the seat bases flip up, headrests fold and the seat backs drop forward.
Storage space inside the CR-V is impressive and is well designed to cater for the demands of family life. A large armrest cubby-hole and big glovebox feature to help maximise interior space.
The CR-V is a well-equipped car, with entry-level S models coming with dual-zone climate control, 17-inch alloys wheels, multifunction steering wheel, heated electric mirrors and cruise control all coming as standard.
What the CR-V lacks in driver involvement and excitement, the 1.6 i-DTEC engine more than makes up for with impressive fuel economy and CO2 figures. On the combined cycle, this CR-V returns 62.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 119g/km. The larger 2.2 i-DTEC diesel returns 50.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 149g/km.
The petrol versions are less impressive, though. The 2.0-litre VTEC engine has a strong thirst with combined cycle figures of 38.2mpg and CO2 emissions of 173g/km for manual versions. These figures become even less impressive for cars specced with automatic gearboxes.