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Honda CR-V 4×4 (2007 – 2012) expert review

By Adrian Higgins, 8th July 2007

The verdict

The Honda CR-V offers car-like handling and strong build quality and with its premium feel it stands out in the mass of 4x4s available.

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Expert rating:



  • Hatchback-like handling
  • Quality interior
  • Low running costs


  • Sluggish engines
  • Lacks real off-road ability
  • Limited model range

Full Review

1. Exterior

The first and second generation Honda CR-Vs were a bit on the bland side. Not so this, the third generation model. It combines chunky 4×4 styling below the shoulder-line with a more car-like appearance above. The side-view is particularly eye-catching with the windows tapering towards the rear. Of the three trim grades: SE, ES and EX, only the top two come with alloy wheels. Front fog lights and privacy glass also appear on the ES while you’ll need to upgrade to the EX to get the panoramic glass roof.
Our rating: 4

2. Interior

Honda sought to combine the best elements of 4×4s, MPVs and saloons when putting the interior together, though it’s the 4×4 element which dominates due to its chunky styling. The gear lever is mounted on the console while the futuristic, C-shaped handbrake sits between driver and front seat passenger. Quality materials have been used and it feels very well put together. The controls are neatly laid out and easy to use, with steering wheel-mounted buttons reducing the need to fiddle with dials while driving.
Our rating: 3

3. Practicality

With all seats in place there’s 556 litres space to stow your shopping, but this can be increased to 955 with only the two front seats occupied. No need to wince at the prospect of folding the seats back either – the ones in the CR-V are easy to flip. Other storage options include door bins which can take a 500ml bottle, a 6.5-litre storage space between the driver and front seat passenger and the ‘double deck’ shelf, dividing the bootspace in two horizontally, which can be used to keep luggage separate and makes it easier to access.
Our rating: 4

4. Ride and handling

Honda has sought to make the CR-V’s driving experience as car like as possible, and done so by reducing the car’s centre of gravity by 35mm – and on the evidence of our week’s driving it was well worth the effort. The car certainly doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of a cumbersome 4×4 and negotiates corners and curves with minimal wallow. However, it still does what you expect a 4×4 to do: swallow the lumps and bumps in the road before they are passed onto the occupants.
Our rating: 4

5. Performance

CR-V buyers can choose between a single petrol or diesel engine. The 140bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine has a top speed of 116mph and is available as a six-speed automatic only. The 150bhp 2-litre petrol model, has a top speed of 118mph, and is available as six speed manual or five speed automatic. Both models can cover 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds. We drove the automatic petrol model and found its responses to be pretty sluggish. Thinking of going off-road? The CR-V is equipped to cope with light off-roading over dirt roads or slippery grass fields.
Our rating: 3

6. Running costs

‘Not all 4×4s are the same’, says Honda, and this is one of the areas where that claim undergoes most scrutiny. The annual tax bill is less than for most off-roaders and a respectable return on fuel (34.9 mpg for the petrol and 43.5mpg for the diesel) certainly helps support the claim. The fairly sedate performance secures a Group 12 insurance for the whole range. When it’s time to sell, CR-Vs do a good job of holding on to their value.
Our rating: 4

7. Reliability

Honda came a very respectable third in the UK’s list of most reliable manufacturers and the CR-V is one of its most reliable models. So how come our model wouldn’t start one morning? Because we’d left the interior light on. ‘I knew it’d be the battery when I heard it was a Honda,’ said our AA man: ‘they just don’t break down’. And he was right.
Our rating: 4

8. Safety

The CRV’s soft-road capabilities contribute to the car’s safety – which earned four from a maximum five star’s following Euro NCAP crash tests. Under normal conditions the car operates in two-wheel drive. The “on-demand” four wheel drive will come to your assistance in tricky situations e.g. when the front wheels lose grip. Other driver aids include adaptive cruise control which is an option with the top trim level, vehicle stability assist, anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution. There is also six airbags to reduce the injuries caused by an accident – as well as active headrests designed to reduce whiplash injuries.
Our rating: 4

9. Equipment

There are three trim levels to choose from. The entry-level SE trim comes well-specced with electric windows, CD stereo with steering wheel-mounted controls. We drove the ES trim model which also features 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and privacy glass. Opt for the top EX trim and Honda adds 18-inch alloy wheels, DVD sat-nav, glass roof and heated seats. Each trim level represents good value for money.
Our rating: 4

10. Why buy?

Honda might say the CR-V’s X-factor is being the acceptable face of 4×4s – fairly economical mileage, lower-than-expected tax and a hatchback-like feel to the handling. We’d say it is the fact the CR-V gives the impression of being a car which costs several thousand pounds more than it actually does, with great looks, quality build and materials and the fact it’s only likely to break down if you leave the light on.
Our rating: 4

Expert review 3.8stars

  • Exterior4
  • Interior3
  • Practicality4
  • Ride and handling4
  • Performance3
  • Running costs4
  • Reliability4
  • Safety4
  • Equipment4
  • Why buy?4

Our recommendations

Best on a budget:
CR-V 2.0 iVTEC  SE
The keenest priced CR-V still enjoys a good spec level.
CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC SE
Diesel power and decent kit proves to be most popular.
Blow the budget:
If there’s cash to spare the EX adds 18-inch alloys and sat-nav.

The CR-V gives the impression of being a car which costs several thousand pounds more than it actually does, with great looks, quality build and materials