What is the Honda CR-V?
Approaching a quarter-century since the Honda CR-V first made its debut and now in its fifth-generation, the Japanese brand’s SUV is one of the bestselling cars of its type across the globe.
Competitors were few and far between when the Mk1 CR-V reached the UK in 1997, but today’s crossover-soaked landscape is very different: now the likes of the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Nissan Qashqai, Peugeot 3008 and Toyota RAV4, among of host of others are its rivals.
And what of that CR-V name? No, not as logic might suggest Compact Recreational Vehicle, but Comfortable Runabout Vehicle. Every day’s a school day.
- Top speed: 112-130mph
- 0-62mph: 8.5-9.7 seconds
- Fuel economy: 39-53mpg
- Emissions: 120-162g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 561-1,756 litres
Which versions of the Honda CR-V are available?
Honda’s Mk5 CR-V finally arrived in the UK in 2018, over a year after the model first became available in North America and Japan.
Although its evolutionary styling didn’t hint as much, the fifth-generation Honda CR-V SUV was a different animal beneath the skin. Being larger, there’s room for a third row of occasional seats in the boot area, plus there’s no diesel engine option. Instead, for those seeking to maximise fuel efficiency, Honda sells a hybrid version alongside the petrol.
That hybrid uses a non-turbo 2.0-litre petrol unit, while the alternative is a 1.5-litre turbo, with either 170hp or 190hp. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available with both powertrains.
Trim levels follow Honda’s established theme of S, SE, SR and a luxuriously appointed EX topping the range.
Honda CR-V styling and engineering
After years of looking almost apologetic for being an SUV, the Mk5 CR-V is a much more substantial, almost butch design by comparison – and while the styling’s evolutionary, it manages to look fresh, too, particularly at the rear end of the car.
It’s a similar story inside: Honda’s long played-safe with the CR-V’s dashboard design, and it has again, but there’s a tangible lift in terms of the quality of plastics – it doesn’t feel Audi-like in terms of quality, but it’s several leaps ahead of Honda’s own Civic.
That Civic link is an important one. Honda, like most brands, is consolidating the number of platforms it builds, instead producing a handful of different options that can be altered in scale – essentially, what’s under the CR-V is a version of that Civic’s underpinnings.
Is the Honda CR-V good to drive?
While it’s not going to exactly sate enthusiastic drivers – in reality, few SUVs manage this – it is significantly more rewarding to drive than its predecessors, largely thanks to those Civic-derived underpinnings.
Not only is it comfortable with a well-judged, compliant ride quality that enables the CR-V to feel planted at speed, it corners keenly, too. There’s little evidence of bodyroll in spite of its height and the steering, while light, is more communicative than before.
How much does the Honda CR-V cost?
Hondas aren’t cheap and the CR-V is no exception, being priced a little north of similar sized models from Kia and Nissan, for instance.
Those price premiums continue with the brand’s finance offers, both in PCH and PCP forms. The offers aren’t necessarily bad value, just that they’re pricier than you’ll find with rival’s packages. Of course, Honda drivers will cite the earlier generation of CR-V’s exemplary reliability record as justification for the extra payment.
Find out what Honda CR-V drivers think of their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
Honda CR-V Model History
Fourth-generation Honda CR-V (2012-18)
As with the Mk3 before it, it’s somewhat difficult to describe the Mk4 CR-V as a good-looking crossover, although things were improved by the facelift in early 2015 with the bolder nose design.
Earlier models featured a 2.0-litre petrol and a 2.2-litre diesel, but the latter was replaced by a punchier and more refined 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel come that 2015 facelift.
Again, front- and all-wheel drive versions were available, the former proving more popular thanks to their lower running costs courtesy of being more fuel efficient,
Third-generation Honda CR-V (2007-12)
Beautiful? No, but bold and – for Honda, at least – radical was how best to describe the styling of the Mk3 CR-V.
Out went the overtly perpendicular lines of its predecessors, replaced by a much curvier design, with a protruding front bumper, arcing side window line and the spare wheel removed from the tailgate, which now opens conventionally as it was hinged at the roof.
Petrol and diesel engines continued in improved forms of what was offered previous: 2.0 litres for the former, 2.2 for the latter.
Second-generation Honda CR-V (2002-07)
An elegant update of the handsome, original CR-V was what the Mk2 model signified when it arrived in showrooms during 2002.
Still upright in a traditional SUV shape, with a side-hinged tailgate with the spare wheel affixed to it, the second-generation model was gently pushed upmarket, feeling a mite plusher and more expensive.
Until the final couple of years of the Mk2 CR-V’s lifecycle, it was solely available with a 150hp 2.0-litre petrol engine, but demand for diesel ensured that a 140hp 2.2-litre oil-burner arrived in early 2005.
First-generation Honda CR-V (1997-02)
Quite the break from tradition was the Mk1 CR-V, as Honda sought to cash-in on the early boom years of SUV popularity.
Rumoured to have initially been Honda’s half of a joint-venture project with its then partner Rover (allegedly the British firm’s version became the Land Rover Freelander), the CR-V debuted in Japan in 1995, but it was early 1997 before it reached the UK.
It was a traditional SUV, featuring a side-hinged tailgate, complete with a spare wheel mounted upon it, and a light, airy interior courtesy of the deep side windows. There was even the option of a pump-action shower in the boot to wash down muddy boots before getting into the car.
This generation was petrol-only – despite diesel’s growing popularity at the time, Honda didn’t readily have one available. Consequently, for all the Mk1 CR-V found a number of eager buyers, they tended to be well-heeled customers who didn’t cover huge annual mileages.