Honda CR-V Hybrid review
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The Honda CR-V Hybrid is the first hybrid SUV from the Japanese brand and joins a 1.5-litre petrol offering that gets the benefit of a seven-seat option that the hybrid misses out on. It's 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 very underwhelming official efficiency figures of around 40mpg (under WLTP emissions tests) and 120g/km – both of which lag behind the CR-V's nemesis, the Toyota RAV4.
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, too, is well within the price range of the CR-V, 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 that 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 1kWh of capacity, so stints in pure-electric 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 that the CR-V delivered better economy in the real world than its official figures suggest, managing around 40-45mpg depending on the sort of driving involved; actually much the same test economy that we achieved in the (officially) more efficient Toyota RAV4.
Inside, the CR-V Hybrid is nicely laid out, with a seven-inch display placed 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. Boot space comes in at 497 litres, and is a good size for family motoring, although there are usefully bigger and more practical non-electric 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 does not get free entry into the London congestion zone and is no more economical than the diesel alternatives in this class. The CR-V Hybrid comes in four trims: S, SE, SR, and EX. Front-wheel-drive is available in the first three, with all-wheel-drive a £1,100 option in SE and SR form. The EX model is all-wheel-drive only.
Starting from under £30,000, the entry-level S trim 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 trim 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 expected to be the biggest seller, costing £37,255. Even so, we reckon the SE with front-wheel-drive – priced at £30,965 – is the best-value option.
For a more detailed look at the Honda CR-V Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.