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Driven: Honda CR-V i-DTEC 4WD. Image by Honda.

Driven: Honda CR-V i-DTEC 4WD
Full four-wheel drive and more power for Honda's diesel SUV.


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Honda CR-V i-DTEC 4WD

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Key Facts

Model tested: Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC EX 9AT 4WD
Price: from 34,120; car as tested 34,670
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: all-wheel drive, nine-speed automatic
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 139g/km (Band E, 130 annually)
Combined economy: 55.3mpg
Top speed: 122mph
0-62mph: 10.6 seconds
Power: 160hp at 4,000rpm
Torque 360Nm at 2,000rpm

Our view:

At the start of 2014 we spent a week with the 120hp, front-wheel drive, pre-facelift version of this car and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then, earlier this year, Kyle drove this very model on the international launch and gave it a favourable review. And we're big fans of Honda, even though - in recent times - many of its more exciting models have bit the bullet in favour of economical machines. Nevertheless, the Civic Type-R is back, the second-gen NSX is on the way and the company seems to have found its spark again.

The CR-V is crucial to Honda's success and it's selling well. Actually, not just well but phenomenally fast - according to Focus2Move data, in the first nine months of 2014 it was the world's best-selling SUV. A total of 50,000 were sold during that year and this updated model is bound to continue in this vein.

Hard to think that it's been around for the best part of 20 years, the CR-V. In fact, along with Toyota and its RAV4, we bet these two Japanese firms are annoyed by the continual adulation of Nissan and its 'invention' of the crossover segment with the Qashqai; you could make the argument that Honda and Toyota got there first.

So, given those two decades in this market and the 750,000 CR-Vs sold in that time, we're still at a loss to explain why the Honda's cabin finishing remains shy of the class leaders. The new seven-inch touchscreen for the satnav is nice and there are some very good bits, but there are also some clunky, dated features that you wouldn't find in the competition from German, Korean and indeed other Japanese brands. It's very roomy within, though, while there's an excellent driving position and the huge 589- to 1,146-litre boot (accessed by a standard-fit power tailgate on this specification) is a real selling point.

There's a lot more to like about the CR-V, too, as it drives in a polished manner, with a lovely ride, strong body control and a quiet engine. It's never hugely exciting to be behind the wheel, although the steering deserves credit for being more feelsome than is strictly necessary for a vehicle in this class, yet that doesn't really enliven the experience. Yet for the simple task of getting from A to B with the minimum of fuss, it's absolutely spot on. That's down to 2015MY enhancements to the suspension settings and the addition of more noise-suppressing materials in the Honda's chassis.

The nine-speed automatic is a smooth operator, although we're not sure a 160hp/360Nm engine needs so many ratios. However, it doesn't bring any significant eco penalties over the manual, the combined economy figure of 55.3mpg being just 0.1mpg off the six-speed gearbox, while CO2 emissions rise by 6g/km - keeping it in the same VED band too. The auto's neat little gear lever is also one of the cabin's plus points.

And we like the look of it, the 2015MY update bringing the biggest change in the form of the chrome-smattered grille and new lights, plus LED lamps at the rear. Given the looks were not a flaw for the Honda SUV, this update is unlikely to therefore be either a USP or deal-breaker in the showrooms.

But, bloody hell, it's expensive. OK, we had an EX, which means 'kitchen sink' specification incorporating active cruise control, a panoramic roof, Honda Connect satnav with an uprated sound system, keyless entry and go, leather trim and more. And if you want the 160hp engine, you have to have four-wheel drive. The automatic gearbox is a 1,650 option and our car had 550 of metallic paint, all of the above leading to a 1.6-litre diesel compact SUV that would only give you 330 change from 35 grand. Blimey!

This means that, for all its luxuriousness and refined driving manners, we can't conscionably recommend the CR-V i-DTEC EX 9AT 4WD. It's just way too costly in this trim, where it doesn't stand comparison to any of the following: cheaper yet just as roomy C-segment-based crossovers; equal size models from premium German brands; and even seven-seat giants from the vastly improved Korean marques. To get the best CR-V experience, you need to try and stick to the lower end of the range - and with a decent level of specification we'd point you in the direction of the 1.6 i-DTEC SE front-wheel drive model with the 120hp engine and manual transmission, which has missions of just 115g/km (30 quid a year tax after a free first 12 months), 64.2mpg and a much more sensible ticket of 25,570. Any way you cut it, 9,100 in your back pocket is a considerable sum of money, so avoid the top-spec Honda.


BMW X1: for 33,680, you could get into an automatic 190hp xDrive20d Sport, emitting 128g/km CO2 and fitted with satnav as standard. Puts the EX Honda's price into stark relief.

Hyundai Santa Fe: a sum of 33,210 secures a high-ranking automatic Premium spec seven-seat version of Hyundai's classy full-sized SUV. Not as good on emissions as the Honda but its 2.2-litre CRDi unit develops 197hp and a colossal 436Nm.

Nissan Qashqai: admittedly, this is a rival for the new HR-V, but it makes a strong case for itself here. Down on power by 30hp and torque by 40Nm (for the 1.6-litre dCi model), yet economy and performance figures are broadly comparable. Fully loaded Tekna 130 dCi manual 4WD with 19-inch alloys costs 28,910; that's still 5,760 less than the EX CR-V.

Matt Robinson - 6 Sep 2015    - Honda road tests
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2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Max Earey.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Max Earey.2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Max Earey.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.

2015 Honda CR-V. Image by Honda.


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