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First drive: 2024 Honda CR-V e:PHEV. Image by Honda.

First drive: 2024 Honda CR-V e:PHEV
Hondaís all-new flagship hybrid SUV aims to build on the strengths of its predecessor.

   



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2024 Honda CR-V

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The CR-V is more than just the pinnacle of the Honda SUV line-up - it's one of the most popular SUVs in the world, and therefore a crucial car for a brand that hasn't had the greatest of fortunes of late. But now Honda is on a roll, with the new Civic, Civic Type R and ZR-V all impressing our testers. Now, all that knowledge has been applied to the new CR-V, which aims to ensure Honda remains a big player in the global SUV market. But will the new flagship prove itself up to the task?

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV
Price: From £53,995
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol and electric motor
Battery: 17.7kWh lithium-ion
Transmission: multimodal automatic, front-wheel drive
Power: 184hp
Torque: 335Nm
Emissions: 18g/km
Economy: 353.1mpg
Range: 50 miles
0-62mph: 9.4 seconds
Top speed: 116mph
Boot space: 635 litres

Styling

With an all-new model comes an all new body, although the new CR-V loosely follows the design language of the existing HR-V and ZR-V models. The scale-up has seen some differences, though, including the new front grille, and the overall look is a little bit more generic than that of the ZR-V. The new grille, for example, has shades of Suzuki S-Cross, while the tail lights look as though they were the result of an illicit union between BMW and Volvo. The overall shape, though, seems to include bits of Volvo XC90 and Mitsubishi Outlander, depending on which angle you view it from. In short, it's a fairly forgettable shape, but it's far from ugly. In fact, it looks quite clean and handsome, albeit in a nondescript kind of way.

Interior

The interior was, arguably, the area in which the CR-V really needed to up its game, and Honda has definitely come through on that front. The new cabin may not be very exciting - it's basically a modified version of the dashboard found in the Civic - but it's smart, well made and feels adequately premium, making it a match for the Skoda Kodiaq and Toyota RAV4. It's a bit dark, admittedly, but it's streets ahead of the outgoing model.

Even more importantly, it also offers vastly improved technology, in the form of a new touchscreen and a digital instrument display, both of which are standard across the range. They too are basically lifted from the Civic and ZR-V, but there's nothing wrong with that - particularly when compared with the CR-V's old system. But where the outgoing car's touchscreen is clunky and blocky, the new system is cleaner, smoother and easier to use. It works well with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto tech, too.

But the digital instrument cluster is even better. It may not be as flashy as the systems you'll find in an Audi or even a Skoda, but it's cleaner, clearer and more user-friendly, with plenty of configuration options. It's difficult to fault.

Practicality

As with pretty much every other big family SUV, practicality is the name of the game, and the CR-V delivers. Interior space is first-rate, with even more rear legroom than before and a boot that measures up to 635 litres in the plug-in hybrid version. That was made possible by putting the battery under the floor, rather than under the boot, and cutting the size of the fuel tank, but it means there's plenty of space for luggage even with all five seats upright.

Performance

Although the CR-V is officially available with a choice of hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrains, it's really a choice between two variations on the same system. Both cars have the same 2.0-litre petrol engine and complicated transmission that houses the electric motors. Both cars offer 184hp and 335Nm of torque, too, giving them both a 9.4-second 0-62mph time and a 116mph top speed.

But there are differences. The more conventional e:HEV uses the electric motor to drive the wheels most of the time, only engaging the petrol engine at higher speeds, when it's at its most efficient. The rest of the time, the petrol engine just works as a battery charger for the electric motors, allowing it to be very smooth and refined, not to mention efficient. Despite offering the e:HEV with all-wheel-drive as standard, it'll return more than 40mpg on the official economy test.

But the e:PHEV takes the idea a step further, swapping the e:HEV's small battery for a larger rechargeable unit and allowing an all-electric range of 50 miles. That means you can basically use the CR-V e:PHEV as an electric car for short journeys, as long as you can recharge it regularly. On longer journeys, the car will use the battery for a while, then switch to working just like the e:HEV, preserving as much efficiency as possible. And if you use the navigation system, the car will even decide which power source will prove most efficient for each phase of the drive, improving economy further.

Naturally, the 353mpg efficiency of the official test is unrealistic unless you lead a very, very specific lifestyle, but if your situation even vaguely suits the powertrain, it should prove more efficient than the e:HEV, partly because it's only available in more efficient front-drive form. But with 18g/km CO2 emissions, it'll be the CR-V of choice for company car buyers.

Ride & Handling

The way the CR-V drives depends largely on which version of the CR-V you choose. Both are quite smooth and refined, although the e:PHEV is naturally slightly more reliant on the electric motors and therefore quieter around town, but the handling characteristics are somewhat different.

Choose the e:HEV, which makes a lot of sense on paper, and you get a lighter car with a slightly more agile demeanour, making the most of the CR-Vís precise steering to feel pretty manoeuvrable. Combine that with a modicum of body control Ė the car rolls a bit in corners but itís fairly well controlled Ė and the CR-V is quite good fun to drive, although itís let down by the ride.

Because while the e:PHEV is heavier than the e:HEV and therefore fractionally less light on its feet, itís actually more comfortable on the road. It doesnít waft or float, but it soaks up the bumps in a very mature and composed way, which makes it feel very stable and grown-up. It just misses out on some of the e:HEVís all-wheel-drive capability.

Value

The Honda CR-V doesnít come cheap Ė prices start at £45,895 for the Ďbasicí Elegance e:HEV Ė and thatís quite a lot. Youíll spend much less on an entry-level RAV4, for example. However, the CR-V is incredibly well equipped, with leather upholstery, heated front seats and a panoramic glass roof all included as standard on all models. Thereís a rear-view camera, parking sensors and a power tailgate, too, as well as wireless phone charging. And, of course, you get the digital instrument display and central touchscreen. Thatís a lot of equipment, and the sort of thing we expect from top-end models.

Verdict

The outgoing CR-V was a likeable thing, but the new model is an improvement in all the right areas, adding improved interior style and technology to a recipe that already included efficiency and comfort. It isn't the most exciting thing on the market, and it certainly isn't the cheapest, but it offers reasonable value and it'll be a very easy car to live with, no matter which powertrain you choose.



James Fossdyke - 14 Sep 2023



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2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.

2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.2024 Honda CR-V Advance Tech e:PHEV. Image by Honda.








 

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