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Driven: Honda CR-V 1.5 SE. Image by Honda UK.

Driven: Honda CR-V 1.5 SE
The best-selling SUV in the world, says Honda, is the CR-V - and the Mk5 is sure to only continue that trend...


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Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE manual

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: spacious, clever and attractive interior, smooth 1.5-litre engine, decent economy and performance, handsome looks

Not so good: tyre roar, occasionally fidgety ride, expensive even in base trim

Key Facts

Model tested: Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual
Price: CR-V range from 25,995; SE 2WD manual from 27,855, car as tested 28,405
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder VTEC petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body style: five-door crossover-SUV
CO2 emissions: 143g/km (VED Band 131-150: 205 in year one, then 140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 44.8mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 9.3 seconds
Power: 173hp at 5,600rpm
Torque: 220Nm from 1,900-5,000rpm
Boot space: 561-1,756 litres

Our view:

Having already tested the latest Honda CR-V in AWD, CVT guise and also as the default choice in the range, the Hybrid, this is going to be a very, very quick review. Because this manual SE front-wheel drive is, to all intents and purposes, much of the same stuff that we've seen before. Namely, it's nicely styled on the outside, huge and extremely practical on the inside, erm... 'blessed' with that fake wood dash trim which Honda seems very proud about (we're undecided on it but it takes you by surprise at first, no doubt) and suitably well-equipped.

Although Honda lists an 'S' model as entry point, realistically almost every UK CR-V will be at least an SE, which comes with desirable items such as Honda's Garmin satnav seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system, dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker plus subwoofer stereo system, a rear-view camera, 18-inch alloys, parking sensors all round, auto wipers and four USB ports (two front, two rear), among more. This builds on a good level of standard equipment on the S, especially in the safety department - every fifth-gen CR-V sports Traffic Sign Recognition, Adaptive Cruise Control, Intelligent Speed Limiter, Brake Assist, Vehicle & Trailer Stability Assist, Agile Handling Assist, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Lane Departure Warning, six airbags, ISOfix seat fittings, a tyre-pressure monitoring system and Emergency Call. That, we are sure you'll agree, is a bounteous safety package.

Which somewhat justifies the CR-V's strong price. Our 1.5 VTEC turbo SE with the manual transmission and just front-wheel drive, finished with Lunar Silver metallic paint (550), was 28,405. Now that places the five-seat Honda quite a long way ahead of its natural C-segment crossover/SUV rivals, although the Japanese firm would no doubt counter and say that the CR-V can come with seven seats and therefore it's keenly priced against the sort of '5+2' people-carrying rivals that are on the market.

And we'd agree, because the CR-V seems to make the most sense at the two bookends of its range - if you're going to go big on the Honda, have the Hybrid in EX trim. But if not, stick to this lower end of the scale, because the manual 1.5-litre CR-V is a very agreeable thing. You might not know this but the manual CR-V has less power and torque (173hp/220Nm) from its VTEC engine than the same model with the CVT (193hp/243Nm), but the addition of weighty all-wheel drive and the variable gearbox actually makes the 193hp models notably slower to 62mph than this manual 2WD car, which runs a respectable 9.3-second time.

However, traffic-light grands prix are not the CR-V's remit, so the real reason we'd recommend this manual SE is because it is far more pleasant to drive than the CVT model. The gearbox, mounted up high on the dash, is one of Honda's super-slick delights to operate and the 1.5-litre engine sounds and feels far more refined with a conventional transmission than it does when screaming its poor heart out at the redline in the CVT. It's also better on fuel, both 'officially' (i.e., on paper) and in practice, as we saw almost 39mpg across 490 miles with the CR-V, with a best of 44.6mpg on a return journey to the midlands from Brooklands. Remember, the Honda is a petrol SUV, not a diesel...

Everything else about the way the CR-V drives holds true, our main bugbear with it being slightly too much tyre noise. This is a shame, mainly because it rides so nicely - in the main; there are one or two occasions where the Honda can get caught out by poorer road surfaces - and is so smooth to drive, so it's a very pleasant vehicle for family life. Despite the chatter of the rubber and an occasionally fidgety ride, though, in all other respects the CR-V remains a strong contender in its segment, with the 2WD model being a particularly canny choice within the Honda's range.


Nissan X-Trail: Nissan's been doing quite a lot recently to improve the X-Trail but it remains fairly humdrum seven-seat SUV fare.

Peugeot 5008: looks a lot more interesting outside and in than the Honda, and has some very nice drivetrains, too. Can be pricey.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace: the Mk2 Tiguan is a much more appealing beast than the older models and the long-wheelbase Tiguan is a classier act in all departments, when compared to the Honda.

Matt Robinson - 11 Dec 2018    - Honda road tests
- Honda news
- CR-V images

2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.

2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.2018 Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SE 2WD manual. Image by Honda UK.


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