Used car tests

Used Honda CR-V (Mk4, 2012-2017) review

Reliable, comfortable and cost effective to run, the Honda CR-V is a family-friendly SUV that also features a versatile interior and vast boot

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

  • Roomy interior
  • Low running costs
  • Excellent reliability
  • Not very exciting to drive
  • Costs more to buy than rivals
  • Sluggish automatic gearbox


The Honda CR-V is a five-door SUV that’s a little too traditional – and large – to be counted as one of the more fashionable compact ‘crossover’ style SUVs that it competed against when new. However, many of the rivals of its era can’t match its practicality, with its spacious load bay, versatile rear seats and roomy interior making it a fine family car choice.

Its interior is also well designed and solidly built, giving the car a real premium feel. It’s also very well equipped and even entry-level models get all the kit you’re likely to need.

Many of its contemporary rivals are more fun to drive, but the CR-V is a relaxed motorway cruiser, with superb comfort and refinement. Honda is also famed for its engine technology, and both the diesel and petrol units offer superb economy and excellent reliability.

Which one should I buy?

  • Best Honda CR-V for families: 1.6 i-DTEC 120 SE Plus 
  • Best Honda CR-V for low costs: 1.6 i-DTEC S
  • Best Honda CR-V for towing: 2.2 i-DTEC SR AWD 

The fourth-generation Honda CR-V arrived in the UK in October 2012. Buyers could pick between four trim levels (S, SE, SR and EX) and two engines: a 153bhp 2.0 i-VTEC petrol unit or a 148bhp 2.2 i-DTEC diesel.

Both engines came with the option of an automatic gearbox, and while four-wheel drive was optional on the 2.0 i-VTEC S and SE (the alternative being front-wheel drive) it was fitted as standard on all other models. From October 2013 a fleet-friendly 119bhp 1.6 i-DTEC diesel engine was offered with S, SE and SR trims, but there was no four-wheel-drive option for this engine.

The CR-V range received a facelift in March 2015 with a refreshed front end design and the introduction of a more powerful (158bhp) 1.6 i-DTEC engine, which replaced the 2.2-litre unit.

We wouldn’t steer you towards or away from any particular derivatives, but if you’re planning to tow with your CR-V take note of the limits in the checklist further down this page. Towing limits vary quite considerably depending on your chosen engine and gearbox.

No CR-V is especially spartan, and even the entry-level S has a DAB radio, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, powered windows front and rear, plus auto emergency braking.

The SE Plus adds a seven-inch touchscreen display, a rear parking camera, automatic headlights and wipers, along with front and rear parking sensors. Buy a CR-V SR and it’ll come with 18-inch alloys, leather and Alcantara trim, privacy glass, active HID headlights with main-beam assist, and nav.

Range-topping EX models feature leather trim, a panoramic glass roof, keyless go, a powered tailgate and an electrically adjustable memory driver’s seat.

What are the alternatives?

The CR-V has no shortage of rivals. Two cars that are closely matched are the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, both of which are well equipped, and tend to be reliable. The Toyota RAV4 is also extremely dependable, and should be on your shortlist. The Ford Kuga is plentiful, value for money and good to drive, while the Mazda CX-5 has a superb cabin and is also surprisingly fun for an SUV.

There are lots of Nissan Qashqais and Renault Kadjars to choose from, along with the Volkswagen Tiguan and its SEAT Ateca and Skoda Karoq cousins, all of which are appealing for their efficient engines and user-friendly cabins. The Peugeot 3008 has a superb interior and is very practical, too. The choice really is huge.

Honda CR-V vs Mazda CX-5 vs Hyundai Santa Fe

The Honda got off to a bad start in its first group test in November 2012, when it faced the engaging CX-5 and versatile Santa Fe. The all-round abilities of the Mazda helped it romp to victory, but it was a close race for second with the spacious and efficient CR-V just losing out to the less expensive Hyundai. Read the full test...

Honda CR-V vs Mazda CX-5 vs Ford Kuga

In this May 2015 encounter a refreshed Honda faced its old foe the CX-5 as well as the new Kuga. Unfortunately for the CR-V the result was the same, its practical interior and efficient new engine proving not enough to topple either the winning Mazda or second-placed Ford. Read the full test...

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