Review: Honda CR-V

A perfect blend of handling, space and power

25 May 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Elegant interior

  • Great build quality

  • Oodles of space

Cons

  • Steering feels limp

  • Quite high running costs

  • Uncomfortable on bumpy roads

Our expert rating

The Honda CR-V has been around since 1995 and is a relative of the Honda Civic.

The fourth generation of the Japanese compact SUV came out at the end of 2012 and it carried on the tradition of being one of the best alternatives to the pricier Audi Q3 and BMW X1. 

Performance

A CR-V 2.2 litre diesel makes a good buy, especially the models from the end of 2012 onwards. It pulls very nicely and, although its acceleration won’t set your pants on fire, it’s certainly not sluggish.

Also, the model’s strong engine, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels make motoring effortless, yet efficient.

With environmental concerns becoming more important, the CR-V’s 2.0 i-VTEC and 2.2 i-DTEC engines emit significantly less CO2 than pre-2012 cars.

Honda CR-V from the rear

Ride and handling

The CR-V’s firm suspension provides good stability without being unforgiving at slower speeds. The steering feels a little limp, but there’s plenty of grip and there isn’t much body roll.

Most versions from 2012 are four-wheel drive, except for the 1.6-litre diesel models and petrol S and SE trims.

Honda CR-V from the side

Interior space

The CR-V is bigger than it first looks. With the rear seats up, the boot is a spacious 589 litres, and this extends to 1,669 litres when the seats are down. But what does this mean in the real world?

It means that if you’re a parent with a young family, you can chuck not just one, but multiple folded buggies in. With the seats folded down there’s even more space. If you’re not precious about keeping your car spic and span, the CR-V is the perfect car to load up with junk for disposal at the council tip.

Honda CR-V boot space

What to know before you buy

Honda's reliability record is first class, but there are still a few things to look out for. Some older CR-Vs, built between November 2009 and January 2010, might have a fuel leak problem. Excessive tyre wear is also a known issue on pre-2012 models.

Check all of these points and ensure you’re happy before handing over any money.

If you notice a strong petrol or diesel smell around the car after it’s been parked for an hour or longer, the chances are there is a fuel seepage. Most of these issues should have been sorted out by Honda at no cost, so make sure the problem has been fixed.

You should also inspect the tyres for wear anyway. If you find cracks, bulging, or deep cuts, the tyre should be replaced.

Honda CR-V alternative cars

Alternative cars

The Honda CR-V looks great and has an elegant interior, underlining Honda's renowned build quality. It also comes bursting with kit, so a tidy 2012 model makes it a rival for the more expensive Audi Q3 and the similarly priced, but more economical - Nissan Qashqai.

Overall verdict

With a few snow-ridden winters to hit the UK in recent years, many of us have realised the benefits of all-wheel drive and sales of 4x4s have been booming.

Sure, two-wheel drive CR-Vs are available, but if you live on a farm, need to tow a horse box, or you need to tackle narrow, country lanes, then I’d recommend you look at a used four-wheel drive Honda CR-V as your main motor.

The Honda CR-V drives like a standard car; has the space of an estate, and enough grunt to tow a trailer, caravan or horsebox. It’s got it all, really.

Expert review

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall