Used Honda CR-V (Mk4, 2012-2017) review - What’s it like to drive?

Refinement and comfort are the Honda’s calling cards, its soft suspension and smooth engines making it a relaxing driv

The Honda is a supremely refined and comfortable large SUV, plus its petrol and diesel engines are some of the best in the business. However, while it’s easy to drive it’s not as dynamic as some rivals, with soft suspension and lifeless handling.

Engines and performance 

Just three engines were offered in the CR-V, although the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel comes in two states of tune. The lower-powered version, with 118bhp and 300Nm of torque, has been available since 2013, but cannot be specified with four-wheel drive or an automatic gearbox. 

The plus side to this is that the 118bhp 1.6 is 116kg lighter than the old 2.2 CR-V, which meant Honda had to specially recalibrate the suspension to compensate, which helped boost its handling. That said, the 2.2-litre was a muscular performer, its strong torque delivery at low revs complementing the CR-V’s laidback character.

A more powerful version of the 1.6 i-DTEC engine superseded the previous 148bhp 2.2-litre i-CTDi diesel. This delivers the same 350Nm of torque as the old 2.2, but adds another 10bhp to the mix with 158bhp, so it's 40bhp more than the entry-level 1.6. Both 1.6s make their peak power at 4,000rpm and deliver maximum torque from 2,000rpm.

Honda also offers the CR-V with a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine. This offers 153bhp at 6,500rpm, but when compared with the diesels it looks short on torque; it musters just 192Nm at a peaky 4,300rpm. The petrol engine isn’t really worth considering over either of the excellent 1.6 i-DTEC motors. While all the engines provide decent refinement, the diesels make more sense, with lower CO2 emissions and greater efficiency to help keep running costs in check.

On the road 

The rest of the CR-V driving experience can’t quite match the engine. 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 set-up is that bumps and potholes are soaked up well.

Grip and traction are also decent, especially on four-wheel-drive models, but the slow steering means you have to turn the wheel more than you might expect to navigate a corner, which doesn’t inspire confidence. If you want a more engaging Honda to drive with similar carrying capacity, it might be worth looking at the Honda Civic hatch instead.

There’s a choice of six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmissions, although the auto isn't the best performer. While gearchanges are smooth, it’s sluggish to respond and dulls the engine’s performance. By contrast, the six-speed manual is a pleasure to use, thanks to its precise changes. However, despite its impact on acceleration, the auto suits the car’s laid back, relaxed nature.

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