Honda CR-V Black Edition 2016 review

New Black Edition trim adds some bling to the Honda CR-V, but it's expensive and some rivals are better equipped for the money

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

If you want a 4x4 with maximum added bling, then the Honda CR-V Black Edition is worth a look. Rivals come handsomely equipped, are better to drive and even more economical, but the black-on-black colour scheme is very much on trend at the moment and the styling tweaks add a welcome dose of flair to the otherwise rather mundane-looking SUV. It remains perfectly practical and is available with some seriously attractive finance deals, though for many the standard front-wheel drive manual version in a lesser spec will remain a more logical choice.

The Black Edition is a name fast becoming synonymous with sporty special editions – not just at Honda, but also Ford, Skoda, Nissan and even Audi. While the changes might be merely cosmetic, they tend to add plenty of kit for little extra outlay.

This latest CR-V Black Edition is based on the SE Navi trim, but commands a premium of almost £3,000 – boasting aggressive bodywork, big 19-inch wheels and glittering gloss paint. There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines, as well as manual and automatic gearboxes – though each model comes exclusively with all-wheel drive.

In addition to the bumpers, wheels and paint, all Black Edition CR-Vs get embossed leather seats, unique floor mats, a tailgate spoiler and special skid plates. Also emphasising the Black Edition theme are sporty running boards, a gloss black grille and badging on the bootlid. The scratchy dash plastics remain, however, and the double central screens look painfully old fashioned.

Best SUVs and 4x4s

While style is subjective, there’s no denying the tweaks give the CR-V a more purposeful look. But all the extra bits and bobs are at odds with the standard car’s practical nature – after all, this specific model is only available with four-wheel drive.

Not only does that make the Black Edition more expensive to buy and run, it also feels heavier and less nimble on the road. We rather like the front-wheel drive diesel, but as a 4x4, this CR-V appears sluggish and less responsive.

That’s thanks in part to the nine-speed automatic gearbox, which can struggle when you ask it to change multiple gears in quick succession. It also feels like Honda has simply installed too many ratios in the pursuit of ultimate fuel economy, and those with a hastier driving style will find it frustratingly hesitant when subjected to less predictable throttle inputs.

Contrary to what the sporty add-ons might have you believe, it’s not much fun either. The steering is slow, and there’s a fair amount of body roll. The ride is disappointing too, with those big wheels and low profile tyres sending sharp shocks reverberating into the cabin both around town and at higher speeds. Road noise is another issue not found in other CR-Vs.

Honda CR-V long-term test

Furthermore, at almost £34,000, our diesel auto is almost as much as an entry-level Jaguar F-Pace – our current Car of the Year. A top-of-the-range BMW X1 xDrive20d M Sport auto is £34,390, while a faster, more powerful and similarly well-equipped Mazda CX-5 Sport Nav is almost £3,000 cheaper than this CR-V. Frustratingly, the CR-V Black Edition misses out on kit that comes standard on many competitor models – including heated seats, an electric tailgate and keyless go.

Elsewhere, you’ll find fuel economy is good but not quite class leading. The aforementioned X1 manages an identical 55.4mpg with the automatic gearbox, but crucially comes with the option of a six-speed manual. That not only improves mpg, but also lowers the list price by £1,600 – allowing for a few choice options such as adaptive dampers or a panoramic roof. 

However, the Black Edition claws back many of these deficiencies when you look at the finance deals. While the standard CR-V is still subject to steep 5.9 per cent APR representative arrangements, the Black Edition models can be had with zero per cent finance. This could be the dealmaker for many potential customers, as the monthly payments allow the CR-V to significantly undercut rivals on whole life costs.

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