Honda CR-V: Estate or Crossover?

  • We pit our CR-V against an unusual rival
  • Both Hondas have their own advantages
  • Find out which we'd pick and why

While on first inspection they’re completely different propositions, you might be surprised which of this pair of grey Hondas I’d choose if it were my money.

Here I pit our long-term Honda CR-V against the all-new Civic Tourer to determine the winner.

Practicality

Both cars have their advantages depending upon what you’re using them for. The CR-V’s 589-litre boot is actually smaller than the Civic's 624 litres. This is also true with the seats folded down, the Civic’s 1,668 maximum payload trumping the 1,648 litres offered by the CR-V. The Civic also has an under-floor compartment in the boot which can hold quite a lot of luggage too.

The way you fold the rear seats away differs too, but this time in the CR-V’s favour thanks to the clever one-touch mechanism I’ve mused upon before. It's all taken care of much more conventionally in the Civic, but unlike the CR-V the seats do actually fold into a flat floor.

In terms of room in the rear, there’s plenty in both but the CR-V comes out on top again since it’s just higher. We did notice that although you’ve better visibility when sitting in the back of the CR-V, the Civic’s ride quality when four-up was far better though, possibly down to that car's variable dampers.

Looks

Obviously looks are subjective, but then buying a car is rarely a solely rational decision. What the car looks like matters.

For me, I’d never entertain the idea of a 4x4 vehicle unless I had a genuine requirement for high ground clearance and the aggressive attack angles you find on the likes of a Land Rover. This fad for buying ‘crossover’ cars has completely passed me by.

An estate car, on the other hand, makes a lot more sense in my mind. It has the dimensions of a family hatchback but with a bigger boot. What’s not to like?

Well the answer is a lot, if you compare sales figures. Crossovers out-sell small estate cars by a colossal amount, which proves not only that I’m not always right, but that the chunkier looks and higher driving position of a crossover do hold genuine appeal.

Performance/handling

Our test cars use a mixture of petrol and diesel engines, the Civic Tourer with a  1.8-litre petrol whereas the CR-V boasts a high-tech 1.6-litre diesel.

First, let me just say that it’s an absolute joy in this age of diesels and automatic ‘boxes to drive an honest non-turbocharged petrol-engined car with a decent six-speed manual gearbox. I’d nearly forgotten the pleasure of chasing the redline on a spirited back-road jaunt.

It’s proper driving, if you ask me. The only problem is, with fuel economy averaging just over 40mpg in the Civic Tourer and the 2.0-litre petrol in the CR-V offering less than that, we simply have to discount petrol power as a rational decision unless you're not doing many miles at all.

That said, the CR-V’s diesel engine is brilliant too. It makes use of a clever turbocharging system which effectively eradicates the lag usually associated with such a powerplant. It’s definitely towards the top of my favourite small-capacity diesels list.

Thankfully the gear change in both cars is excellent, and the lever itself is placed well in the cabin too.

There isn’t a huge amount to report on the handling front. The Civic Tourer takes that one hands down. It’s lower, harder, has just as much grip and also boasts an adaptive rear suspension set-up to switch between Comfort and Sport modes. Personally I didn’t notice a huge difference between the modes, but it’s a nice feature all the same.

Equipment

This is an area where the CR-V comes out on top. Its SE-T specification has a few more bits than are included on the Civic’s SE Plus-T trim.

You get an automatically dimming rear-view mirror, automatic lights and windscreen wipers, keyfob-operated windows, a category 1 alarm system and extra tweeters for the stereo.

Both cars have a sat-nav system, denoted by the ‘-T’ bit of the trim level.

Costs

While the CR-V is obviously a bigger car, it may surprise you to learn there isn’t a massive gulf in cost between the two models. If we compare both with the same 1.6 diesel engine, with paint the only option, then the Civic Tourer costs £23,495 and the CR-V £25,360. That means a £1,855 premium.

Fuel economy is a claimed 74.3mpg for the Civic Tourer, while the CR-V is capable of 62.8mpg. Thanks to CO2 emissions of 99g/km compared to 119g/km, the Tourer is cheaper to tax as well.

Verdict

What we’ve discovered here is that while a crossover-type vehicle is a popular choice for huge numbers of people in the UK. Unless you really value a high driving position and chunky looks though, it may very well pay to investigate other types of car. They can often work out cheaper, more practical and better to drive.

In this instance our pick is the Honda Civic Tourer, but with the 1.6-litre diesel engine from the CR-V installed.

Mileage: 3,890

Fuel economy: 47.2mpg