Honda CR-V Review: High Street Warrior

The Honda CR-V might look like it has some off-road chops, but its Japanese makers know most of them will handle terrain little more demanding than the local high street so it’s comfy and easy to use. It’s big though, with room for families to spread out inside and enough boot room to handle plenty of luggage or shopping.

Sadly though, it’s no masterpiece. The price tag – in the showroom and at the pumps – will rightly make many would-be buyers think twice. You have to pay a lot to get really good trim and accessories and it’s no driver’s dream either.

Little power

The Honda CR-V has a 2-litre petrol or 2.2-litre diesel. Both come with six speed manual or a five-speed automatic. Neither engine is markedly powerful, and the petrol is weaker in the mid range. They’re fine, but nothing remarkable and the automatic gearbox feels like something from the last decade.

With its slight nod to the off-roading crew, you’d expect a decent suspension and when it’s faced with something hefty to climb over it does its job. On less demanding, run of the mill lumps and bumps it’s less satisfactory. It sticks to the road well, while leaning on corners and the steering is loose.

Decent ride

Sitting inside you’re fairly well cushioned from outside noise coming from the tyres and suspension and possibly overlarge mirrors. Both the diesel and petrol engine are noisier than they should be. In most respects, but particularly in gearing, the front-wheel drive wins out over the four-wheel drive for a smooth, silent ride.

The automatic gearbox comes with an added demerit. It will push up the fuel prices that are already overshadowed by other vehicles in the class. It won’t plummet in value as soon as you drive it off the forecourt, but the CR-V is pricey.

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Reliable but

Honda’s long-term record is good and customer surveys on the CR-V backs that up. It feels well made, though the quality of the interior doesn’t match the exterior.

As befits a family orientated vehicle, little has been skimped on the safety front. There are three sets of airbags and the headrests are also designed to keep you safe in a crash. A stability control system works well and has been designed to keep you on track if you hit trouble while towing. You have to pay a lot for the full safety kit though, which includes a lane monitoring system for motorways and a distance sensor that will stop you rear-ending anyone with automatic braking.

The cabin is comfortable, but the dashboard a little over complicated. The rear view – without using the mirror – is blocked by oversized pillars in the back. No such problems out the front windscreen however, and the highly adjustable steering wheel and seat set-ups should accommodate most drivers in comfort.

A family favourite?

Where the CR-V does shine is as a family-friendly vehicle. It’s been designed with plenty of space all around and it’s easy for kids to scramble, or be carried, in and out. The maximum boot space – with the easy to use split back seats in action – is a whooping 589 litres.

If you want anything approaching luxury though, you will have to pay for it. Perhaps car leasing deals will be attractive as they hold their value so well. The S trim, which is the cheapest, has little to recommend it. The SE comes with parking sensors and automatic wipers and lights as well as Bluetooth. The ST adds heated seats and a digital radio and the EX is very nice, with its leather interior, sliding panoramic roof and a top-of-the-range sat nav.

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