The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.1
The Honda CR-V is one of the best five-seat 4x4s. Its cabin is spacious and practical and the 1.6-litre diesel engine combines respectable performance with low fuel bills.
Reasons to buy
- Plenty of room for passengers and luggage
- Low emissions and impressive economy
- High-tech safety aids available
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
This – the fourth-generation CR-V – was already a much more assertive-looking car than its predecessors, but the facelift introduced early in 2015 smartened it up even further. At the front, the headlights and grille have been redesigned to work together in what Honda calls a ‘flowing wing’, while the wider bumper gives the car more presence. It’s the same story at the rear end, where a larger bumper and redesigned lights give the CR-V a smarter look that can be enhanced further with the optional Chrome or Aero Packs.
What's the interior like?
While the CR-V may not match an Audi Q3 for showroom appeal, the cabin feels well screwed together. You’ll find reasonably good plastics on the upper dash, and although the harder plastics on the lower dashboard and doors feel less upmarket, the 2015 facelift has brought a step up in quality, with pride of place going to the 7.0-inch touch-screen that sits in the middle of the dashboard on every model, except the entry-level S trim. Through the Honda Connect system, this gives easy access to all the car’s infotainment functions, as well as allowing you to ‘mirror’ your own smartphone (controlling its apps via the screen). The driving position is sound and there’s more than enough adjustment on the steering wheel and driver’s seat for anyone to get comfortable.
How practical is it?
This is where the Honda really scores over its rivals. The driver and front seat passenger have loads of room, but it’s the rear of the cabin which impresses most. Adults have plenty of head- and legroom, even with the front seats slid right back; and, as there’s no transmission tunnel to speak of, there’s enough space for everyone’s feet, even with three passengers across the rear bench. On top of that, the 589-litre boot is larger than in many estate cars, and can be extended to 1,669 litres by folding the back seats down – which is a beautifully simple operation: pull levers on either side of the boot and the rear seats drop away in one quick and easy operation to leave an almost flat floor.
What's it like to drive?
Drive a CR-V for even a short period of time, and what's most obvious is the excellent refinement: at motorway speeds, there's only the slightest hint of wind noise. The company has done a good job with the suspension, too: the CR-V is stable on the motorway and composed through the bends, with body roll well controlled; the ride has a firm edge at low speeds, but it smooths out at higher speeds, and overall it's more comfortable than a Toyota RAV4. With relatively sharp steering, the car turns in keenly and feels responsive, but without making it any harder to manoeuvre at low speeds. Admittedly, the CR-V is not as engaging to drive as the (smaller) Nissan Qashqai, but it’s a very pleasant and undemanding car that we prefer to the RAV4 and which compares well to the Nissan X-Trail.
How powerful is it?
There’s a choice of petrol or diesel power, but we expect the two versions of the 1.6-litre diesel engine will the most popular choices, thanks to their low emissions. Even the less powerful of the two (available exclusively with two-wheel drive) has more than enough performance for everyday use; and, although the stronger, 158bhp version comes with four-wheel drive, it still gets the CR-V moving at a decent lick. It’s a generally quiet engine, too, and although it does get a little noisy at high revs, you never need to work it that hard because it responds so keenly in the mid-range. By contrast, the 2.0-litre petrol engine needs to be worked much harder than the diesel, but it performs well enough to be worth considering.
How much will it cost me?
The CR-V certainly isn't the cheapest option in the market, but its running costs – and those of the diesel-engined models, in particular – look very appealing. CO2 emissions are as low as 115g/km from the lower-powered engine and just 129g/km with the stronger unit, which equate to impressive average economy of 64.2- and 57.7mpg, respectively. These figures are better than you’ll get in an X-Trail or similarly powerful RAV4.
How reliable is it?
You should have no worries on this score, if the almost universally positive reviews for the 2012 version of the CR-V are anything to go by. Even older versions of the car – and Hondas in general, for that matter – usually perform very well in reliability and customer satisfaction surveys, so the omens are good that this model will also do very well.
How safe is it?
Although this version of the CR-V hasn't been tested by Euro NCAP, it's only a facelift away from the previous model, and that scored a maximum five-star rating in the organisation's crash tests. Standard equipment across the range includes Vehicle Stability Assist and six airbags, as well as a City Brake system, while top-spec EX cars also have features including a Collision Mitigation Braking System (which slows the car automatically at low speeds if sensors detect the car is about to drive into the car in front) and Honda’s new ‘Intelligent’ Adaptive Cruise Control that the company says can monitor other vehicles and predict them cutting into the lane in front of the CR-V.
How much equipment do I get?
There are four trim levels, rising from the basic S through SE and SR to the top-spec EX. Every model will have climate control and cruise control, with SE models adding parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and a rear-view camera. Beyond that, SR versions add height adjustment for the front passenger seat, roof rails and leather/Alcantara trim. Top EX models give the car a luxury makeover, with a panoramic glass roof, a powered tailgate and leather upholstery among other goodies.
The CR-V is a thoroughly sensible and practical 4×4 with (on some models) low running costs. Some versions may be a little pricey, but otherwise it’s hard to find any serious flaws.