The Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious SUV, with all-wheel drive in the case of our test car, and a powertrain which has the potential to deliver good economy and low emissions.
Honda was a pioneer with hybrids, yet over recent years – when there has been an increasing focus on lowering vehicle emissions – other manufacturers have been more proactive in bringing hybrids to market. However you can now have a Honda CR-V Hybrid with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive – the first time that a Honda SUV has been available as a hybrid in Europe – so is this a better option than a petrol SUV?
The Honda CR-V Hybrid has a 2.0-litre i-VTEC Atkinson-cycle petrol engine, two electric motors, a lithium-ion battery pack located under the boot floor, and a fixed-gear transmission. Honda calls this the ‘i-MMD Hybrid system’.
Externally the latest CR-V Hybrid is an improvement over previous models in visual terms, and the interior space has grown, with a large 497 litre boot.
Most hybrids should start up on electric power before switching to the petrol engine when the battery no longer has sufficient charge, or when more performance is needed, and the vehicle should return to electric power when at a standstill, or under low load, such as when cruising or decelerating.
The CR-V Hybrid follows this pattern, however it runs on the petrol engine at a standstill more often than its rival, the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.
Playing with the drive modes – Normal, Eco, Sport and EV – gives different results in terms of the amount of time that the car operates on electric propulsion. Eco mode will see the car being on electric power for more of the time, Normal mode will see the petrol engine frequently revving at standstill, and this is even more the case in Sport mode. Because this is a hybrid rather than a plug-in hybrid the amount of all-electric driving time will always be limited. In fact it was a very rare event to be able to select EV mode, even if the battery had lots of charge. This is despite Honda’s claim that the CR-V can operate on electric power for 1.2 miles; we never came close to this.
In addition to stop-start driving, the powertrain will also switch between petrol and electric during normal driving, and this is where the CR-V should be able to cut its petrol use.
The CR-V has a fixed-gear transmission and Park/Drive/Neutral/Reverse are selected via buttons – with a button that you have to pull down for reverse, which is a slightly unusual approach.
There are also steering wheel-mounted paddles – these don’t change gear, but instead adjust the rate of deceleration.
The CR-V Hybrid actually has good levels of power and torque. The engine develops 145 PS, and the electric motor produces 184PS, with a total system output of 184PS. There’s even more torque: 175 Nm from the engine, 315Nm from the electric motor, giving 550Nm for the system as a whole. You’d expect this to translate to a faster 0-62mph time than 9.2 seconds, and when you do accelerate, everything gets very revvy (and noisy).
Honda claims that this latest CR-V is more capable off-road than previous versions. There’s an increase of 27mm in ground clearance for the hybrid version, giving 192mm for all-wheel-drive hybrid models. The CR-V’s all-wheel drive system is front-wheel drive-biased, with torque only going to the rear wheels when needed, and from the driver’s seat that’s certainly how it felt on the road, in dry and wet conditions (we didn’t test the CR-V off-road).
One definite item of good news about the CR-V is the ride quality: you can hardly notice that you’re driving over most speed bumps.
The interior has quite a lot of fiddly buttons, including on the steering wheel. The heating controls are separate to the touchscreen, which is always a good thing, but you can’t change where the ventilation comes from via the dashboard, instead you have to go into the touchscreen to do this, which ends up requiring the pressing of two buttons, which is a bad thing.
At one point the CR-V jammed its brakes on automatically when a person appeared next to a car parked car on the road ahead. This person presented no risk, yet if there had been a car behind us, we’re pretty sure it would have crashed straight into the back of the CR-V, suggesting that this system needs some tweaking.
The official correlated NEDC combined fuel economy for the Honda CR-V Hybrid is 51.4 mpg, with CO2 emissions of 126 g/km (the front-wheel drive model returns a marginally better 53.3 mpg and 120 g/km CO2). Our real-world driving resulted in fuel economy ranging from 36.8mpg to 45.7mpg; overall, after a week, we averaged 42.0mpg. This is less than the Toyota RAV4, which averaged 54.5mpg, but it’s better than a petrol SUV of this size is likely to deliver. The CR-V had a projected driving range of 466 miles.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD EX costs £37,255. Prices start from £29,105 for the entry level 2WD model. The CR-V Hybrid is available in both FWD and AWD formats and specs are S, SE, SR and EX.
The Honda CR-V Hybrid delivers better economy than a petrol SUV of equivalent size. So if you want a vehicle that offers the space of an SUV, along with all-wheel drive in the case of our test car, and decent efficiency, then the CR-V Hybrid should be on your list – especially if you can’t charge a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle.
The CR-V Hybrid is decent to drive overall, with a particularly comfortable ride, but the hybrid system doesn’t operate on electric power as much as its rival the Toyota RAV4, and the result of this is shown in the real-world economy figure of the CR-V being considerably lower than that of the RAV4.
Overall the Honda CR-V Hybrid AWD EXgains a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.