One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Senses Working Overtime.
What is Swindon famous for ? With apologies to Swindonites, off the top of my head not a lot really. The New Wave band XTC, Mark Lamar, who I once saw in in the car park underneath Manchester’s Ramada Hotel on Deansgate. What it does contain though, is the UK Honda car factory, at least for now anyway, where my latest test car the Honda CRV is built. Re-launched in 2018 it has been completely updated & improved adding Honda’s latest lower emission petrol engines to the range. This is an important development for Honda here in Britain. Thanks to the anti-diesel lobby, every manufacturer needs a decent petrol engine & the 1.5 is Honda’s entry.
First & foremost, the latest CRV is unmistakably a CRV. However, there has been some subtle changes. For a start there’s no diesel, just a regular petrol or a hybrid option. The 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC petrol unit comes with 171bhp at entry level & is matched to a six-speed manual gearbox with FWD. This engine can also be had with 190bhp & this comes with a CVT gearbox & 4WD as standard. The CR-V Hybrid combines a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine with an electric motor & is available in 2WD or 4WD versions. The wheelbase has been increased over the last model. This provides greater interior space & it can now be specified with seven seats rather than five, although rear boot space is lower.
From the outside, it’s the rear end or particularly the light clusters that make this CRV standout. Otherwise it looks like a CRV. The interior though has been spruced up. Even our lowly SE featured wood on the dashboard. Talking of which, like al Honda’s, the dashboard is sensibly laid out & all of the switchgear is where you’d expect it to be.
The infotainment system now comes with a rotary controller to change the volume & the bonus of separate controls for the climate control system, while Apple CarPlay & Android Auto now come as standard on SE models and above. To be fair, I found the 7″ infotainment system a bit fiddly & much preferred to utilise Apple CarPlay & Google Maps rather than use Honda’s own quite dated SatNav system. A digital instrument display is fitted as standard & this gives the driver plenty of options to display vehicle information\, such as fuel economy, radio station, hands free telephone etc…
There are plenty of storage spaces, with two drinks holders in the centre binnacle, four large door pockets & a sliding centre armrest with storage space underneath. The CR-V is actually longer than the Peugeot 3008, VW Tiguan & Nissan Qashqai, making it one of the largest vehicles in the segment. This of course translates to impressive interior space especially in the rear.
Having driven the 1.6 CRV diesel in 2017, which drove & performed admirably, I was a little concerned about the 1.5 petrol engine that came with my new CRV, particularly it’s pulling power. The 1.5 petrol is brilliant in the Civic when it was the only petrol car I tested in 2017 that averaged close to 50 mpg. But the larger, heavier CRV is a different story altogether. The 1.5 engine works well in the CRV when there’s just a single passenger on aboard, but chuck in a full complement of passengers, their luggage & a dog & it’s completely different story. Sluggish best describes it.
The CRV comes in four trims. S which is very well equipped offering 17″ alloys, DAB audio with steering wheel controls, Bluetooth, USB & AUX in sockets, driver lumbar support, LED headlights & single zone climate control. Next up is the SR, which gets you 4 USB ports, 18″ alloys, dual zone climate control, a rear view camera, front & rear parking sensors, halogen fog lights & rain sensing wipers, which is the model I tested & I feel would be the most popular fleet choice. Above this sits the SR with leather interior, privacy glass, heated front seats & an active cornering light system. Top of the range is the EX adding 19″ alloys, heated rear seats, an opening panoramic glass sunroof & a hands free power tailgate.
My test model the 2WD CRV SE, offers a combined fuel economy of 44.8 mpg. I wanted to see if the CRV would get anywhere close to this in my world, so I did two separate tests. The first was motorway only, where I managed to achieve 38.2 mpg at a constant 75 mph. The second was urban, around my locality where in stop/start traffic the CRV averaged only 25.1 mpg. Both tests were undertaken with just myself in the vehicle. Add these together & you get around 33mpg. This isn’t 44.8mpg but having driven the Mazda CX5, KIA Sportage & Hyundai Santa Fe recently, it’s about the same mpg that you would achieve in any of their petrol models undertaking the same or very similar journeys. But of course falls short of the diesel versions which generally will hit 40mpg.
I had a trip to the tip the week I had the CRV & I was able to take advantage of the the excellent boot which offers 561 litres of space with the seats up, to take the old one to the tip. This is actually slightly less than was on offer in the previous model. If you need more space the CRV’s got it though, because if you fold the seats down you get a whopping 1123 litres to work with. Another good Honda idea, is the addition of a plastic tray which covers the bottom of the boot, very useful now that we’ve got a dog to keep the interior of the boot nice & clean. A word too about the rear passenger space, which was excellent, with plenty of room for 3 adults with decent leg room as well. You’ll easily get three six footers in here.
I think Honda have got it about right with the new petrol engine in the CRV, although I prefer a diesel. The British car buying public love an SUV but the vast majority only want the 2WD version, so it makes an awful lot of sense for Honda to offer the CRV with a 2WD & a 4WD option. Don’t be comparing the CRV to the Qashqai though, because it’s larger & more practical than the Nissan, where the X-Trail is more the CRV’s size.
As a company car, CRV’s have appealed to those who need a proper load lugger, but in limited numbers & most likely in diesel. I know Honda don’t sell many cars in Europe, hence the upcoming Swindon factory closure, but for business, a diesel CRV would have been great. The 1.5 petrol is alright, but it’s a bit weak fort the size of the car & with a combined mpg of only 33mpg on our test, isn’t great at the pumps either.
On a positive note, the CRV is rock solid, offers masses of space, is very comfortable, especially on the motorway & with the improved fuel economy & lower emissions of 143g/km from the 1.5 petrol, it’s still much better than much of the competition.
Overall a 3.25/5