When the Honda CR-V was introduced way back in 1995, it was one of the very first compact SUVs on the market. A lot has changed since the 90s (even if they are coming back into fashion). One of the main changes is the levels of competition the CR-V has faced. Like Take That, it has successfully evolved to offer plenty of reasons to still make it relevant. It’s now a favourite for drivers who want a reliable and safe car that offer plenty of space inside.
Over the years, the CR-V has gradually grown bigger and bigger. This is why some models from 2018 to 2020 have room for 7 seats. Despite the large capacity, the car is fairly compact on the outside with pleasant, if not very striking, looks.
In the most recent facelift, which came in 2018, Honda added a little more chrome to the exterior. Its lines have stayed pretty much true to previous generations of the car.
It’s distinctively a Honda, though, which is quite a neat trick to pull off when so many cars in the category have a recognisable cookie-cutter look to them.
Over the years, the CR-V has gradually grown bigger and bigger.
What’s it like to drive?
With a car like the CR-V, you’re not exactly looking for sporty performance and handling. Good job, because these are exactly what you won’t be getting. The car’s more designed to give a comfortable ride, one that cushions you against the bumps and lumps of many of the UK’s roads. This also means it rolls around corners more than precisely steers into them and the handling can feel a little imprecise.
Where it really comes into its own is on faster, straighter roads where wind and road noise hardly intrude at all and it cruises along beautifully. There’s also the choice of front- or all-wheel drive. You’ll have to decide if the worse fuel economy makes the latter a good choice.
The car’s more designed to give a comfortable ride, one that cushions you against the bumps and lumps of many of the UK’s roads
Just as the outside of the CR-V isn’t the most exciting car you’ll ever see, the interior is cut from the same cloth. That’s not to say that the controls and instruments aren’t laid out logically, because they are. It’s just that the overall styling could be from any other car you could mention in the class.
The front seats are very comfortable, as well as being adjustable, which means getting the perfect setting is a piece of cake. You’re also nice and high up with great all-around visibility, although, in any car of this size, you will find yourself relying on the reverse parking sensors to guide you into the tighter spaces.
There’s plenty of headroom and space in the back for all passengers. Even sitting in the middle is less like drawing the short straw in other cars as there is no central transmission tunnel to get in the way of foot-space.
Things are a bit more cramped in the 7-seater version for the passengers right at the back. Folding down the middle row of seats to give access can be a bit fiddly to do.
Many reviewers have been surprised by the pretty clunky nature of the car’s sat-nav, so it might be worth going for a trim level of SE or above. This includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity via the 7-inch infotainment screen.
How much boot space you get depends on whether you go for the 5- or 7-seat version. That’s because with all 7 seats in use it won’t be much better than a small hatchback – exactly what you don’t want when you have 7 people’s stuff to find space for.
The 5 seat version is quite a bit more practical in this respect. When you have all the seats folded down flat, you’re looking at a pretty massive area. The boot lip is also low making loading easier and the top of the range EX models even have an electric tailgate.
There’s also plenty of storage space in and around the cabin including a pretty big centre console between the front seats that can even be slid backwards and forwards.
Running costs and reliability
If you’re looking for a diesel to eat up those motorway miles without the stop-offs for a fill-up and an over-priced pasty, then the CR-V’s not for you. This model only offers a couple of petrol engines and a hybrid. The most efficient of the petrol engines, the 1.5 litre, could give you up to 44mpg for the front-wheel-drive version or a disappointing 34mpg for the all-wheel drive version.
The hybrid could give you a near-diesel consumption figure of 53mpg - but this isn’t available as a 7-seater.
What cinch loves
The Honda CR-V might not be the most exciting of choices, but it’s a safe one. You’ll enjoy all the reliability of the Honda name, as well as plenty of safety features like forward collision and lane departure warning, not to mention a very practical use of space. Just don’t expect to set the world on fire.
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If the Honda CR-V was an ice cream flavour it would be vanilla. It might have a flake in it too, especially if you go for one of the higher spec models. If you’re looking for a tutti frutti with sprinkles then it may not be the car for you.
This review was