What's the space like inside?
The CR-V is roughly the same length and height as its rivals, but its wheelbase can’t match the RAV4, Tucson and CX-5. And the CR-V lacks the clever ‘Magic Seats’ found in the smaller HR-V that allow you to flip up the rear cushions to load tall items across the rear floor. Nevertheless, it has a flexible interior that feels larger than the dimensions suggest.
Compared with the ultra-modern new Tucson, the CR-V’s dash layout is dated. The gear shifter sits high on the console, and while it’s not visually appealing, it makes space in the console for storage nooks and USB ports. That useful central area also includes two cup holders and a massive, covered storage bin. Door storage is fine for narrow items, but large bottles won’t fit.
The steering wheel controls are easy to identify, and the digital instrument cluster has clear graphics and the ability to adjust the layout.
As with most Japanese brands, Honda’s infotainment setup is fine and functional but has dated graphics and isn’t a patch on the systems used by Hyundai and Mazda. The climate control function is both digital and analogue. Hit the Climate button and some controls will appear on the central display, but the temperature is still changed via dials on the dash. Why not have it all analogue or all digital? It seems confusing.
It has excellent forward and rearward visibility and the front seats are firm, yet comfortable, with the right amount of under thigh and side bolstering. We appreciated the nice cloth trim but those wanting leather will have to step up to the pricier VTi L.
Second-row occupants will find a generous amount of space, with loads of head and legroom. It feels as spacious as an SUV the next size up. The second row also features map pockets, knee-level air vents, two USB ports, decent door storage and excellent visibility.
Open the power tailgate and you’ll find a sizable cargo area of 522 litres with all seats in place, expanding to 1717L with the second row folded. Not bad considering it has a full-size spare wheel. It has nooks on both sides of the boot and handles to lower the rear seats. It’s not quite as big as the boots in the RAV4 (580L) and Tucson (539L) but is much bigger than the CX-5 (422L).
How does it drive?
The aforementioned rivals all perform well on the road, but the CR-V should not be discounted in this area. It feels rock-solid, well-built and it’s enjoyable to drive.
The 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is also found in the Civic small hatch/sedan, but the CR-V gets higher outputs of 140kW and 240Nm. It’s not as sprightly from a standing start as the Civic – it carries nearly 200kg more weight – but it offers plenty of poke for driving enthusiasts.
Honda no longer sells a diesel CR-V and the hybrid version offered elsewhere is not available here. However, the next-generation CR-V due in a few years will almost certainly have hybrid power.
On the road, the CR-V maintains its composure thanks to a balanced chassis and well-calibrated suspension tune. It doesn’t feel top-heavy like some SUVs do when cornering, instead remaining planted to the road. The tyres tend to skip when accelerating hard, but it holds corners (even on unsealed roads) remarkably well. It’s much more fun to drive than you’d think for a sensible family SUV.
The continuously variable transmission driving the front wheels ensures smooth power and torque delivery and lacks the drone of similar transmissions. The steering feels dull and overly mechanical.
The cabin is well insulated from outside noise, even on coarse chip roads, but the engine is noisy when pushed hard.
We handed the CR-V back with a fuel use figure of 9.8 litres per 100 kilometres, up on Honda’s claim of 7.3L/100km.