Honda CR-V: car review

Posted on November 21st, 2012 by James Luckhurst

A roomy, practical and refined five-seat SUV.

Honda CR-V: car review

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What is it?
This is the fourth generation of the Honda CR-V, a five-seat SUV to compete with the likes of the Land Rover Freelander and Nissan X-Trail. The new car is more economical and more practical than the old.

Would it help me stay safe?
Yes. The high driving position makes for good visibility and the list of safety kit is thorough.

Who should buy it and how much does it cost?
Anyone looking for a practical family SUV should consider the Honda, although the price pitches the CR-V against some rivals with prestige badges.

Our review: Good Motoring, Winter 2012

Honda CR-V: car review

Buyers have the choice between petrol and diesel power. The petrol engine does a decent enough job, but needs to be worked hard if you’re in a hurry. It’s much cheaper to buy than the diesel, though, especially if you choose the front-wheel drive version.

For most of us, the 2.2-litre diesel is a better choice. With 258lb/ft of torque, there’s much more overtaking punch than the petrol musters. Honda claims a 0-62mph time of 9.7 seconds, which feels about right from the driver’s seat. The engine goes about its work quietly, making the CR-V an easy-going companion on long journeys.

There’s a choice of six-speed manual and five-speed automatic gearboxes. The auto isn’t as decisive as the best automatic ’boxes, and should you need to pull a caravan or horsebox it’s worth noting that the braked towing limit drops from 2000kg to 1500kg.

Firm, well controlled suspension suggests the CR-V should make a very capable towcar. It’s certainly very stable at speed in regular driving. Just don’t expect the Honda to smother bumps as well as a Land Rover Freelander. Twisting roads show healthy levels of grip and little roll. It’s not the kind of car that will have you taking the long way home for the sake of it, but it is very capable.

Honda CR-V: car review

Few rivals are as roomy of well thought out as the CR-V. Those travelling in the front have plenty of head and legroom, but rear-seat passengers are scarcely any worse off. There’s enough room for adults to get comfortable, even if those in the front are very tall. What’s more, thanks to the flat floor there’s plenty of room for everyone’s feet even if three people are travelling in the back.

The Honda has just about every mid-sized SUV beaten for boot space – and many estate cars, too. With the rear seats upright there’s 589 litres to fill. Levers on either side of the boot fold the seats down, giving a huge 1669 litres to play with.

It’s not just practical. The CR-V feels well put together as well. Everything you see or touch looks and feels solid and made to last.

Honda CR-V: car review

There’s every sign the Honda will help its owners stay safe. All-round visibility is good, and the unusually large speedometer is easy to read quickly without making the surrounding instruments and dials unclear.

All cars come with front, side and curtain airbags. Vehicle Stability Assist is fitted across the board, with Trailer Stability Assist to tame any snaking when towing a trailer.

Go for a CR-V with the Advanced Driver Assist System fitted a number of high-tech safety systems are added to the spec. The Collision Mitigation Braking System slows the car automatically if a low-speed accident is imminent and the driver fails to react. The Lane Keep Assist System warns the driver if they drift out of lane without indicating and will even gently steer back on course, while Adaptive Cruise Control adjusts the car’s speed to hold a gap to the car in front.

If we have a criticism it’s that these advanced safety aids can only be fitted to top-spec EX models. We’d like Honda to make them available on lower trim levels.

Honda CR-V: car review

The 1.4 Studio model may be keenly priced but even air conditioning is a £700 option. Step up to the Zetec to get chilled air, 15-inch alloys, halogen headlights, front fog lights, a trip computer and an uprated stereo. Top-spec Titanium models come with 16-inch alloys, cruise control, climate control, automatic headlights, heated seats, rain-sensing wipers and several other upgrades.

Honda CR-V: car review

There are models to choose from. The basic S has dual-zone climate control (which allows the driver and passenger to set separate temperatures), cruise control, one touch folding rear seats, a four-speaker stereo, steering wheel-mounted stereo controls, 17-inch alloy wheels, central locking and daytime running lights.

SE models gain a leather steering wheel and gearshifter, rain-sensing automatic wipers, automatic lights, an auto dimming rear-view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view parking camera, one-touch power windows, electrically folding door mirrors, a six-speaker stereo, Bluetooth connectivity and front fog lights.

Pay the extra for an SR and part leather upholstery is standard. Heated front seats, an uprated stereo with a digital radio, headlight washers, 18-inch alloys, and privacy glass are among the upgrades. The front-seat passenger gains seat-height adjustment, a feature we’re surprised isn’t standard lower down the range.

The EX comes with a long list of toys including full leather upholstery, a power tailgate, a panoramic sunroof and satellite navigation.

A roomy, practical and refined five-seat SUV.

Price: £26,105
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.7 seconds
Economy: 50.4mpg
Insurance: 26 (1-50)
Tax: Band F (£135)
Verdict : 4.5/5
(Figures for 2.2 i-DTEC SE manual)