Tuesday 11th August 2020
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Driven: Honda CR-V Hybrid. Image by Honda UK.

Driven: Honda CR-V Hybrid
With no diesel option this time around, the Hybrid is your go-to model if you’re after an eco-CR-V.

 



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Honda CR-V Hybrid EX AWD

4 4 4 4 4

Good points: neatly integrated hybrid running gear, nice looks, massive cabin, quality finishing, good equipment levels, generally excellent ride and refinement

Not so good: can sound noisy under duress, expensive in higher specs like this, rubbish infotainment, inert chassis

Key Facts

Model tested: Honda CR-V Hybrid EX AWD
Price: CR-V range from £26,940; Hybrid from £30,130, EX AWD from £38,280, car as tested £38,830
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with i-MMD twin electric motors and lithium-ion battery
Transmission: single-speed e-CVT reduction gear, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door hybrid SUV
CO2 emissions: 126g/km (VED Band 111-130 Alternative Fuel Cars: £160 in year one, then £135 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 51.4mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 9.2 seconds
Power: petrol 145hp at 6,200rpm, electric motors 184hp, quoted system maximum 184hp
Torque: petrol 175Nm at 4,000rpm, electric motors 315Nm, quoted system maximum 315Nm
Boot space: 497-1,638 litres

Our view:

Quite aside from the fact this Honda CR-V Hybrid unintentionally transformed itself from a one-week test loaner into a two-and-a-half-month lockdown companion for me and my family (arriving on March 23, as Boris shut up the UK shop (so to speak), and departing on June 5 as things began to free up again), which means I'm strangely attached to it for seeing us safely through the crisis as our essential-journeys-only transportation, after an extended evaluation period behind the wheel of the petrol-electric SUV I remain convinced this the go-to model in the Honda's range.

Sure, it's disappointing that there won't be an i-DTEC turbodiesel version of the fifth-generation CR-V, but after 650 miles with the CR-V (most of those racked up by simply running to the supermarket and back once a fortnight for essential lockdown supplies... no, not 600 rolls of bog paper, thank you very much) I am happy to say that its Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) powertrain is a suitably efficient operator. I managed to coerce 46mpg from it without any fuel-saving driving tactics and it showed a best of 50.9mpg on one foray to the Covid-restricted Newark branch of that middle-class haven, Waitrose. Thank its impressive regenerative braking capabilities for harvesting much more kinetic energy than you'd think for these figures, meaning the CR-V can drive in EV Mode with notable regularity and therefore avoid draining its petrol reserves.

It's also supremely easy to use, what with its push-button gearbox and one-speed eCVT 'box. You simply press D and off you toddle, not having to worry about what gear you're in in case you want to overtake something slow-moving, while low-speed manoeuvring is easy too because you click from D to R and then back again very simply, so parking is a doddle. Like any Honda, visibility out in any direction is brilliant and the cabin on the CR-V is relatively vast, with a large boot behind it. The ride and refinement are both excellent, while the calibration of all the major controls is similarly superb. As an undemanding vehicle with which to soothe away daily driving issues, it's remarkably good.

Of course, the CR-V Hybrid is not perfect. Mash the throttle to the bulkhead and this drivetrain doesn't simulate the rise-and-fall rev-pattern of a traditional gearbox's shifts, so you get the loud, strained lowing of a CVT holding a normally aspirated 2.0-litre engine at 6,000rpm and more. It might be a supremely comfortable and refined vehicle to drive in a normal fashion, yet there's not much excitement to be had if you decide to test it along a decent back road; the nifty HR-V Sport proves that Honda can do a crossover/SUV with an entertaining chassis, but this CR-V Hybrid emphatically does not count on the manufacturer's good-dynamics tally.

And, as tested, our CoRona-Virus lockdown EX rocked in at the best part of 40 grand, which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't have such laughable infotainment. While the general build quality, ergonomic layout and kit levels of this flagship CR-V's cabin can't be faulted, that clunky old central touchscreen is way off the pace of the hardware found in Honda's key competitors and, furthermore, the Hybrid's digital instrument cluster isn't the best, either. Thankfully, the new Jazz Mk4 has demonstrated that Honda is addressing this particular human-machine interface shortcoming with some considerable panache. Here's hoping the CR-V Mk5's facelift, as and when it happens (most likely in 2021), sees the latest infotainment drafted in to further improve what is otherwise a most pleasant interior.

Indeed, the whole CR-V Hybrid is most pleasant. After 649.7 miles, 22 hours at its wheel and more than two months of looking at it sitting on the driveway, it didn't prove itself to be a let-down after a shorter, sunnier experience in the Honda on its international launch in 2018. If anything, it showed itself to be even more likeable than it was on first acquaintance and thus I was sad to see the CR-V Hybrid eventually depart to head back to its parent manufacturer. Some of that attachment to the Honda will simply be down to how weird the 2020 months of March, April and May were, but I think a good proportion of it is due to the fact this is a very decent, highly amenable family SUV. If Honda sorts the infotainment, makes the eCVT mimic gearchanges and can bring the price down by a few grand when this car is updated in the coming year or so, then you might very well be looking at one of the best vehicles in its class. As it is, this SUV isn't just suitable for the abnormally unusual circumstances of a global-pandemic lockdown - it's just a talented contender in its segment, full stop.

Alternatives:

Kia e-Niro: if you're feeling brave, the fully electric Kia is your alternative. It's a brilliant machine, which brings real-world EV usability to the masses for a reasonable fee.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: Europe's best-selling plug-in hybrid offers more electric-motoring capabilities than the Honda, but we prefer the way the CR-V drives and looks.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid: vastly improved from its predecessor, the current RAV4 Hybrid is the CR-V's main direct competitor. And it might just be a little bit better than the Honda...


Matt Robinson - 5 Jun 2020









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2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid UK test. Image by Honda UK.








 

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