Honda CR-V Hybrid review
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The new Honda CR-V Hybrid is set to go on sale in the UK in February 2019, following the arrival of the fifth-generation petrol model earlier this year. It’s powered by Honda’s new 2.0-litre Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD) system, which the company says is its most important powertrain for 10 years.
It’s easy to see why: the CR-V is faster and more powerful with the 181bhp 2.0-litre hybrid engine under the bonnet than it is with the 1.5-litre petrol, but crucially it’s cleaner and more economical, too. It promises up to 53.3mpg and as little as 120g/km CO2 emissions, when the petrol can only manage 44.8mpg and 143g/km respectively. That’s a big improvement.
So the Hybrid is certainly the pick of the CR-V range, making the £800 more it costs than the petrol version a worthwhile investment in the long run. Honda’s i-MMD system is seriously clever, too: it flicks seamlessly between Hybrid Drive, Engine Drive and all-electric EV Drive modes, depending on your speed and how aggressively you use the throttle.
In Hybrid Drive, the engine powers an electric motor generator, which in turn feeds another electric motor to rotate the wheels. In Engine Drive, a clutch is closed to allow the engine to power the wheels directly. In EV Drive, the small lithium-ion battery is used to power the electric motor, although it only has 1kWh of capacity, so stints in pure-electric mode are limited to just over a mile.
With only an accelerator and a brake pedal, it’s set up like an automatic, but technically the CR-V Hybrid isn’t an automatic at all. This is because the gearbox consists of a ‘single fixed-ratio transmission’, meaning there’s only one gear.
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. The steering is direct and body lean in corners is well managed, but it’s far from ‘sporty’. Only when you accelerate hard does the engine rev loudly, but you’re unlikely to do this very often. Gentle use of the throttle is the best way forward.
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 (there’s no seven-seat option), with only the middle seat in the back suffering from slightly reduced headroom. Boot space comes in at 497 litres, noticeably down on the petrol model’s 561 litres; this is because of the hybrid system.
The CR-V Hybrid comes in four trims: S, SE, SR, and EX. Front-wheel-drive is available in the first three of, with all-wheel-drive an £1,100 option in SE and SR form. The EX model is all-wheel-drive only.
Starting from £29,105, 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.
While the Hybrid model is undoubtedly the best CR-V in the range, it’s difficult to recommend over rivals that deliver more for less money. The silent running is impressive and the amount of space inside makes the CR-V Hybrid ideal for those prioritising comfort, but fuel economy is far from class-leading. Our test run in the top-spec EX AWD car suggested real-world economy of just over 40mpg: the likes of the Toyota C-HR Hybrid and Kia Niro are capable of much better, and they cost a great deal less, too.
For a more detailed look at the Honda CR-V Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.