The new Honda CR-V is capable in most areas, it’s spacious, it looks better than the previous generation model, and in particular the new 1.6-litre diesel engine is very economical.
We like the Honda Civic with the recently introduced 1.6 i-DTEC engine, which is light, responsive and very economical. This new engine is also available in the latest CR-V – so does it work in an SUV of this size?
The new CR-V has much sharper styling than the last model, which never really looked particularly attractive to our eyes.
On the inside, the dashboard is more conventional than many other Hondas, which again is a good thing, as we’re not fans of some of the more gimmicky interior features of some of the brand’s other models. There’s also lots of space, especially in the 589-litre boot (or 1648 litres with the rear seats flat).
The 1.6 i-DTEC engine may be relatively new – previously Honda only had a 2.2-litre diesel unit – but it’s already appeared in the new Civic where it’s proven to be flexible and economical. In this CR-V it’s mated to a six-speed manual gearbox – which isn’t the slickest shifting of units.
The new 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine weighs 47kg less than Honda’s 2.2-litre i-DTEC engine, and the CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC as a whole weighs 116kg less than the 2.2 i-DTEC model.
This CR-V is just front-wheel drive – as all 1.6 i-DTEC models are. You can buy four-wheel drive models, but only with the 2.2-litre diesel or 2-litre petrol engines. The Nissan Qashqai has shown that people want front-wheel drive SUVs rather than boring family saloons for the school run, but the CR-V is pretty big and heavy – there are more efficient body styles for driving around town. If you really don’t need a car that is this big, buy the 1.6-litre diesel Civic, or even better, the new Civic Tourer, as it’s lighter, more aerodynamic, more economical, and better to drive.
People seem to like the driving experience of SUVs, with their chunky feel and high driving position. The CR-V delivers this, even though this model isn’t even four-wheel drive. It has a competent ride, but you’re always going to have a high centre of gravity with such a body style, which means the handling is never as good as that of a conventional car.
The engine has good levels of torque, but this does mean that you can end up spinning the wheels in the wet with the front-wheel drive model.
We’ve usually found something quirky with Honda interiors, and although this CR-V interior is more conventional than many other Hondas, we’re pretty sure that to set up a new phone with this car you have to press the button saying that you don’t want to set up a new phone, which is all very strange.
One of the useful features in the CR-V interior is the reversing camera, despite it being quiet small.
The CR-V 1.6 diesel in S and SE spec returns 62.8mpg along with 119g/km CO2 emissions. However our SR test car, the highest spec 1.6 diesel model, has a lower combined economy figure of 60.1mpg and higher emissions of 124g/km CO2. At 70mph on the motorway we achieved 51.5mpg. Around town we only managed 38.2mpg. Overall we averaged 47.3mpg.
Our test car cost £26,880. On top of that it had the option of pearlescent paint (£500), taking the total price to £27,380 – which we think is quite expensive. Its SR trim is the highest spec for the 1.6-litre engine (other trim levels are S and SE), and comes with features such as 18-inch alloy wheels.
Apart from this 1.6-litre diesel engine, you can specify a 2.2-litre diesel or a 2.0-litre petrol. A five-speed automatic is available on the 2.0 petrol and 2.2 diesel, which is somewhat lagging behind transmissions such as the latest nine-speed auto fitted to the Range Rover Evoque.
The Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC 2WD is an improvement on the old model in virtually all areas, and it’s a very capable all-rounder. It certainly looks better, and this engine does work in such a large car. But all cars need something special that really makes them stand out from competitors and attracts people to buy them. This Honda can theoretically claim good fuel economy, but apart from that, it struggles to put forward one area in which it excels above its many highly competent rivals. If you like the reliability and reassurance of a Honda then it’s likely that you’ll be happy with the CR-V. If you’ve not owned a Honda before, then you may not be able to see anything in particular that makes it shout out “buy me”.
Despite not having one area that excels, the CR-V is still such a capable all-rounder that it’s awarded a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.