Used Honda CR-V (Mk5, 2019-date) review
A full used buyer’s guide on the Honda CR-V covering the CR-V Mk5 that’s been on sale since 2018
The fact that Honda is set to kill off the CR-V Mk5 very soon shouldn’t put you off buying one, as the latest Driver Power survey illustrates only too well. Admittedly the CR-V is no bargain, but that’s true of any decent car on the second-hand market right now. And there’s no denying that this Honda crossover is a fine all-rounder that’s easy to live with thanks to its excellent reliability record, roomy interior and user-friendly cabin design. However, the model range isn’t that wide and the CR-V is in a very hotly contested segment, so while we wouldn’t steer you away from the Honda, we suggest that you try one or two alternatives to make sure that you buy the right SUV for your needs.
It’s almost three decades since the original Honda CR-V was unveiled. Launched in 1995, it was Honda’s first in-house SUV, and it was available with an optional boot-mounted shower, but only with a petrol engine. The car proved hugely popular, and Honda built on this success with an all-new CR-V in 2001, which was available with diesel power for the first time.
By the time the fifth-generation CR-V arrived in 2018, it was available with seven seats and a hybrid powertrain. But this year the CR-V Mk5 will be superseded by a bigger model, leaving a smaller ZR-V to fill the space left by the outgoing CR-V – a car that still has lots to offer, despite its age.
The fifth generation of the CR-V went on sale in the UK in November 2018, with a choice of four trim levels, but only one engine: a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol unit rated at 170bhp. This was available with a choice of front or all-wheel drive, with the latter transmission offered with manual or automatic gearboxes; all front-wheel-drive cars came with a manual gearbox.
Within three months the line-up had been boosted by the addition of a 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain option. This was offered only with an automatic transmission, but once again buyers were able to choose between front and all-wheel drive. From November 2020 the CR-V came in e:HEV hybrid form only, and at the same time the car’s suspension was recalibrated to improve the ride and handling while the bodyshell was strengthened.
Which one should I buy?
The hybrid isn’t quite as perky as the 1.5 Turbo, but it’s potentially more frugal, depending on your driving style; if you do lots of stop/start driving, it’s likely to reduce your fuel bills. Seven-seaters are ultra-rare, hybrids have a meagre towing limit, and three-quarters of CR-Vs have all-wheel drive, which makes it slightly less economical than the front-wheel-drive alternative.
The entry-level S has 17-inch alloys (18s on the hybrid), automatic LED headlights, climate control and adaptive cruise control. SE trim adds automatic wipers, dual-zone climate control, parking sensors front and rear plus a rear camera and navigation. The SR has leather trim, heated front seats and keyless go, while the EX features 19-inch wheels (18-inch on Hybrid), a panoramic glass roof, heating for the steering wheel and rear seats, plus a powered tailgate.
Alternatives to the Honda CR-V
The enormous popularity of mid-sized SUVs means that most car manufacturers offer at least one. Some of the CR-V’s obvious rivals include the Ford Kuga, Mazda CX-5, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, while other crossovers that we find easy to recommend are the Peugeot 3008, SEAT Ateca, Toyota RAV4 and Vauxhall Grandland.
All are from mainstream brands, so supply is plentiful, but if you want something more premium, you could consider the hybrid-only Lexus NX, or the ultra-safe Volvo XC60. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio and MG HS are less obvious choices than the likes of the VW Tiguan, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Kadjar and Skoda Karoq. Also think about the BMW X2/X3, Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC. You’re not short of options in this segment.
What to look for
Hybrid CR-Vs can’t store a space-saver (unless it’s stashed in the boot, reducing carrying capacity) so they have a tyre-repair kit.
Front-wheel-drive, hybrid and some AWD CR-Vs had five seats, but the 1.5-litre AWD model was available in seven-seater form – although it’s rare.
UK-based CR-V forums are very quiet, but some US owners report faulty air-con, and petrol diluting engine oil on 1.5 Turbo models.
Honda offered two types of factory-fitted towbar: a detachable unit and a retractable one, but the latter couldn’t be fitted to the hybrid.
Owners are generally a pretty satisfied bunch when it comes to reliability, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for interiors that have seen hard use – either by families or outdoorsy types, and the like. But it’s a Honda, so well cared-for examples abound.
Compared with earlier CR-Vs, this generation has taken a significant step up in terms of cabin quality and design, with higher-class materials generally on show.
Comfort levels are also high, with excellent seats and plenty of room for five; seven-seaters are quite cramped, but you’re unlikely to find one.
Boot space is excellent for the 1.5 Turbo, at 561 litres (1,756 with the seats folded), but this shrinks to 497/1,697 litres in the hybrid edition.
We found almost 500 used CR-Vs for sale, four fifths of which were hybrid editions; the other fifth were 1.5-litre petrol models.
Visit to our sister site Buyacar to get a great deal on a used Honda CR-V, or to check prices on a specific model head over to our valuation tool.
All CR-Vs need to be serviced every 12 months or 12,500 miles, whether they’re powered by the 1.5-litre turbo engine or the 2.0-litre hybrid. There isn’t a huge variation in maintenance costs during the first three years, because the first three services are priced at £285, £355 then £335. Once a CR-V has reached its fourth birthday, the service schedule alternates between minor and major, and these are priced at £235 and £345 respectively.
On top of this, the brake fluid needs to be changed every three years at a cost of £92, while the coolant has to be replaced every 10 years or 125,000 miles; budget £130 for this to be done. If you buy a CR-V that features all-wheel drive, you’ll have to fork out £110 to have the rear differential fluid renewed every eight years or 75,000 miles. All CR-V engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts to replace.
Use the official Government online recall checker (gov.uk/check-vehicle-recall) and you might think that the fifth-generation CR-V has been the subject of various recent recalls. In fact, however, most of those notices issued since the arrival of this model have been aimed at older CR-Vs, some of which were made as long ago as 2000.
In reality, since the end of 2018, only one recall has been issued that applies to this CR-V, and that came out in August 2020. The notice affected some CR-Vs built before March 2019, which were fitted with faulty fuel pumps on the production line. This could result in the engine being starved of petrol, which in turn could lead to the engine cutting out or being slow to start. The solution was to fit a new fuel pump.
Driver Power owner satisfaction
The CR-V Mk5 didn’t make it into our 2022 used-car survey (the Mk4 did, in 11th place), but it took an impressive seventh slot in last year’s new car poll. The most impressive scores include top-five finishes for interior quality, safety features, engine and transmission, all-round visibility, rear-seat legroom and brakes. Owners aren’t so impressed by the high running costs, or some elements of the dash and switchgear design.
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