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Honda CR-V: Test Drive Review

Date: 25 October 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Small 4x4
P11D price: £30,995
Key rival: Toyota Rav4

Honda's CR-V is gunning for a bigger slice of the market. Previously only available with four-wheel drive, the fourth-generation model has front-wheel drive too, in an effort to rake in customers keen on the idea of an SUV without 4x4 running costs.

However, the firm is at an immediate disadvantage, as the front-wheel drive models are only available with a 2.0-litre petrol engine and in entry-level S and SE trims. That may create a budget entry point, but with popular rivals such as the Mazda CX-5 and the Volkswagen Tiguan offering cheaper, cleaner diesels, the CR-V is going to struggle.

At present, the most economical model is the four-wheel drive 2.2-litre diesel in S or SE trim, offering 149g/km and 50.4mpg. Despite that, the top-spec EX model tested here is tipped to be the best-seller, as Honda claims it always shifts more of its upper-end models.

The weight of the four-wheel drive system is apparent on the road and from the tough action of the gear change. Comfort and noise levels have been improved over the outgoing car but they're still a little behind the best of the competition, as are the cabin materials, which are functional and durable but not pleasant to the touch.

Diesel CR-Vs pull well and smoothly, regardless of whether they're a manual or an automatic. Corporate users will want to steer clear of the latter, though, because it emits 174g/km or 180g/km depending on the trim.

The 155hp 2.0-litre petrol engine will never be high on the radar with emissions spanning 173-179g/km and it struggles to haul the heavier car along. It's far better suited to the front-wheel drive model, where it delivers 168g/km and better performance. In fact, the whole car is more responsive and the gear change much easier with two fewer driven wheels.

The Honda's greatest strength is practicality. There's a huge amount of space for rear passengers (even though 30mm and 5mm have been shaved off the length and height) and the boot can accommodate a more than generous 589 litres of luggage. That stretches to 1669 litres with the seats folded flat, which is an easy process, requiring only a tug of a toggle at the bottom of the seat, followed by pulling a catch at the seat back's shoulder to flatten it.

Four-wheel drive and Honda's legendary reliability are appealing to the right market. Equally, a 149g/km diesel engine is hardly poor given its size and weight, but you're confined to basic models if you want less than 150g/km, and it's crying out for a front-wheel drive diesel (which may well be on the way soon). Fleets are more likely to sit up and take notice when such an option arrives, and when the CR-V gets the firm's new 1.6 diesel engine next year.

Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC EX
P11D price£30,995 (RRP)
Model price range£21,395-£32,650 (RRP)
Fuel consumption48.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 154g/km (24%)
Service interval12,500 miles
Insurance (1-50)group 27
Warranty3yrs 90,000 mls
Boot space589/1669 litres
Engine size/power2199cc/150hp
Top speed/0-62mph118mph/9.7secs
On sale December 2012
VerdictAppealing to the right market
but the competition is
cleaner and more desirable


Appealing to the right market but the competition is cleaner and more desirable