HONDA’S flagship SUV, the CR-V has been around a while now – but the latest version has shed the ugly-duckling looks and come up with some decidedly attractive power trains that will make it very tempting for families looking for a good-sized SUV. 

Spacious, well-equipped and relaxing to drive, the new Honda CR-V now comes with a choice of two clever hybrid powertrains – a plug-in hybrid (e:PHEV) or a full-hybrid (e:HEV) for those who prefer not to have to mess about with charging cables. 

The full hybrid has a range of 596 miles on a full tank while the PHEV is capable of up to 50 miles in pure EV mode. Being hybrids, both models eliminate the range-anxiety that comes with pure electric vehicles. 

And while the new styling and hybrid tech help to keep the CR-V competitive in a market saturated with family SUVs, the price is on the high side compared with its rivals – particularly its arch-rival the Toyota RAV4, as well as the likes of the Kia Sportage and the Peugeot 3008. 

However, Honda enjoys a huge, faithful following for a good reason; they produce, quality motors that are both reliable and technologically advanced. Also, both trim levels come with AWD as standard, which you won’t find on the Honda’s rivals. 

I’ve been driving the full-hybrid CR-V which starts from £45,930 for the Elegance AWD model. My higher-spec Advance model starts from £49,030. 

The standard kit on both models is very good with LED lights, a power tailgate, front and rear parking sensors with a rear view camera, and a panoramic glass sunroof. 

You also get heated front seats, keyless entry and start, a 10.2-inch digital driver’s display and a wireless phone charger. They also come with Honda SENSING 360 which removes blind spots all around the vehicle – particularly useful for warning about front cross traffic when emerging from a junction. 

The Advance model adds the likes of adaptive headlights, a multi-view camera, heated steering wheel, powered driver’s seat with memory function and a head-up display. 

The 9-inch infotainment screen is a much better offering than in previous models, with sharper, clearer icons and a quicker response. It includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 

Both full-hybrid (e:HEV) models get the same 2.0-litre petrol engine with 148 PS and 4,500Nm of torque, along with the 135 kW electric motor which provides 184 PS and 335 Nm of torque. 

The 0-62 mph sprint takes 9.4 seconds – although it feels quicker. 

The CRV certainly looks the part of a rugged, family SUV. It retains its familiar silhouette, but now has a more aggressive, defined look at the front, with a large grille opening. 

At the rear, the vertical brake light and turn signal combination is very Volvo-like but looks smart and is in keeping with the rest of the styling. All-in-all a much-improved look that is still Honda but more contemporary. 

Much like the interior which now look very modern with good quality materials in a well laid out cockpit. 

The high driving position gives good visibility, while the eight-way seat adjustment means you won’t struggle to find the ideal driving position. 

The 10.2-inch digital dash is very clear and although configurable to some extent, you won’t find as many visual options as there are in some rivals. 

I’m delighted to see that Honda haven’t followed the likes of VW and gone for a fully digital interface when it comes to climate controls. The Honda CR-V has its own dedicated set of rotary dials for the climate, as well as easily hit buttons for the heated seats and air-recirculation. 

The 9-inch infotainment screen also retains a physical volume dial, along with a couple of buttons for the most-used options. Much less distracting and therefore safer for everyone. It’s mated to a 12-speaker Bose system which sounds like it should for a premium system. 

The chunky, leather-bound, multi-function steering wheel feels good in the hands and, again, the integrated buttons are easy and intuitive to use. 

I’m not too sure about the minimalistic controls for the air-vents though. The stubby joysticks look like something is missing. But the honeycombed, long, narrow grille they sit behind looks great. 

While space up-front feels more than adequate for driver and passenger, the rear passengers are a little more restricted when it comes to height. Kids will be fine, but adults over 6ft may find things a little tight thanks to the hump in the roof that houses the electric roller blind for the sunroof.  

Leg room is fine though, and the middle-seat passenger benefits from an almost flat floor. 

The rear doors open very wide, making fitting child seats easy enough. The rear seats also slide forward and backward depending on if you need more leg room or more boot space, which is a nice touch. 

They also recline to 8 different positions if that head space becomes a problem. 

The boot space is generous at 579 litres (it’s actually more in the e:PHEV version) while dropping the seats gives you a whopping 1643 litres if you load the Honda up to the roof. 

The Honda CR-V is easy to live with and probably one of the most relaxing large SUVs to drive. Power delivery is almost instant thanks to the hybrid system and you never feel wanting for more power. 

Honda’s new 2-speed gearbox makes a huge difference to the sharpness and smoothness of getting the big SUV moving and hesitancy is almost entirely eradicated. 

The simple gear-selector in the floating centre console is a doddle to use, while the brake feel – often awkward feeling in hybrid EVs – feels natural and easily regulated. 

Ride comfort is spot on for a family SUV – just the right side of firm, which means less chance of carsickness from the back, caused by a wallowy ride. 

At motorway speeds, the CR-V performs excellently due to its well-weighted steering, stable stance, and sufficient power for quick overtakes. The only downside is the intrusive road noise, primarily from the tyres but also some from airflow around the wing mirrors. However, these issues wouldn’t be deal-breakers as the CR-V still offers a relaxed cruising experience. 

On twisty A Roads, the Honda handles well for a large SUV and steering feedback is surprisingly good. It’s still quite a weight though and if you get silly physics will take over. There is some fun to be had though. 

The Honda CR-V e:HEV is a reliable performer, providing safe and relaxed motoring in a comfortable and well-thought-out environment. The hybrid system works seamlessly in the background, allowing you to enjoy the drive without worrying about range or the location of the next charging station. 

  • AT A GLANCE:   
  • Honda CR-V 2.0i-MMD Advance
  • OTR Price: £45,930 
  • Engine: 2.0 Petrol Electric Hyrbid 
  • Power: 181 bhp   
  • Transmission: 2-speed Automatic  
  • 0-62mph: 9.4 secs   
  • Top Speed: 116 mph   
  • Combined Economy: 42.8 mpg   
  • C02: 151 g/km  

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