In-depth reviews

Honda CR-V Hybrid review

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is a spacious and comfortable SUV with room for five, but its fuel economy and CO2 emissions figures let it down somewhat

Overall rating

3.0 out of 5

Price
£29,570 - £38,530
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol

Pros

  • Seriously quiet
  • Comfortable ride
  • Acceptable economy in real-world use

Cons

  • Poor official CO2 and economy
  • Dated infotainment and interior design
  • No seven-seat option
Car typeFuel economyCO2 emissions0-62mph
Hybrid39-43mpg151-163g/km8.8s

The Honda CR-V Hybrid is the brand's first-ever hybrid SUV, offered alongside the 1.5-litre petrol engine in the range. The CR-V Hybrid is a significant car for the company, which has stated that this new 2.0-litre Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) petrol-electric engine is its most important powertrain for 10 years.

It's a shame then, that the CR-V seems to start off on the back foot with underwhelming official fuel economy of around 40mpg and CO2 emissions of at least 120g/km – both of which lag behind the CR-V's most direct rival, the Toyota RAV4. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, too, is well within the CR-V's price range, yet offers free entry to the London Congestion Charge zone (which neither the Toyota nor Honda benefit from) and vastly cheaper company-car tax.

Still, the CR-V Hybrid is a pleasant thing to drive; quiet, comfortable and reassuringly relaxed, flicking between petrol and electric modes depending on your speed and how aggressively you use the throttle. This is no conventional hybrid system, either, since in default Hybrid mode, the 2.0-litre engine functions solely as a generator to charge up the batteries, which in turn power the electric motor that drives the wheels.

There's an EV mode to force as much pure-electric running as the car can manage, but the lithium-ion battery only has a 1kWh capacity, so stints in that mode are limited to just over a mile. It's only if you accelerate hard that the petrol engine actually couples with the wheels to directly drive the car. You barely notice this complexity from behind the wheel, however. The CR-V Hybrid is an assured car to drive, riding comfortably and almost silently in most conditions. Only when you accelerate hard does the engine rev loudly.

More importantly, we found the CR-V delivered better economy in the real world than its official figures suggest, managing 40-45mpg depending on the sort of driving involved; actually much the same test economy that we achieved in the (officially) more efficient RAV4. 

Inside, the CR-V Hybrid is nicely laid out, with a seven-inch display behind the steering wheel and flanked by battery charge and fuel gauges. A touchscreen sits in the centre console above the buttons for drive, neutral, park and reverse modes, although the infotainment system’s graphics look a little dated.

The CR-V Hybrid comfortably seats five, with only the middle seat in the back suffering from slightly reduced headroom – sadly the seven-seat option is reserved for non-electrified CR-V models. Boot space comes in at 497 litres – a good size for family motoring, although there are usefully bigger and more practical non-hybrid alternatives out there, including the Skoda Kodiaq, which you shouldn't discount if you simply want an efficient, practical family SUV.

After all, the CR-V is no more economical than the diesel alternatives in this class. The Hybrid comes in five trim levels: S, SE, Sport Line, SR, and EX. S and Sport Line are front-wheel-drive only, SE and SR can have either front or four-wheel-drive, while the EX is four-wheel-drive only.

Starting from just under £31,000, the entry-level S includes Honda’s suite of safety features, such as adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking and lane-keeping assistance. A set of 18-inch alloys is standard throughout the range, too. SE adds parking sensors and a rear-view camera, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while SR introduces blind-spot and cross-traffic monitoring, smart entry and start, active cornering lights and lavish leather trim.

EX goes even further, adding a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a hands-free powered tailgate, heated rear seats and a panoramic glass sunroof. With all-wheel drive, this top-spec model is reckoned to be the biggest seller, costing over £38,000. Even so, we reckon the SE with front-wheel-drive is the best-value option.

A mild update for the 2021 model year brought some suspension and steering tweaks for improved ride and handling, along with some slight interior trim changes and wireless phone charging on top-spec EX models. The update also brings slight improvements in efficiency across the board. Sales of the updated car start in December 2020 – we'll update this review accordingly once we get behind the wheel.

For a more detailed look at the Honda CR-V Hybrid, check out our account of running one for several months, or read on for the rest of our in-depth review...

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