If you are looking for outright Honda CR-V performance then you’ll go for the 153bhp 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel model with the manual transmission. That’ll get you to 62mph from a standstill in a reasonably impressive 9.7 seconds, whereas the auto will do the same sprint in 10.6 seconds.
Best economy belongs to the 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine added to the line-up from Autumn 2013. It’s the same engine offered in the Honda Civic, with 118bhp and a handy 300Nm of torque. Available in two-wheel drive with a manual gearbox only, it has the lowest CO2 output of the range – see the ‘Costs’ section of this review for more details. It’ll take the CR-V from 0-62mph in 11.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 113mph.
If petrol’s your thing the two-wheel-drive 148bhp 2.0-litre i-VTEC engine gets to 62mph in 10 seconds, while the four-wheel-drive version is just 0.2 seconds slower to 62mph. If you don’t care much for zippy performance the 2.0-litre petrol with four-wheel-drive and the five-speed auto ’box might be worth a look: it has a 0-62mph time of 12.3 seconds with a top speed of 113mph. Other CR-V models top out at 118mph.
The 2.2-litre diesel model with the manual is our favourite in terms of performance and it has the benefit of low emissions too. Its power delivery isn’t particularly linear – maximum pull of 350Nm is delivered as low as 2,000rpm - but that does tend to come in very handy when pulling away in congested areas and when overtaking on the motorway.
As for the petrol version, it's acceptable but not particularly inspiring. You have to work it hard when carrying out passing manoeuvres on single-lane roads and it feels like it’s running out of breath when you are going up steep hills.
The five-speed automatic gearbox feels a little lifeless in its response, so we prefer the six-speed manual – which offers very positive gear changes but can be a little notchy at times.
The ‘Econ’ button dulls the throttle response on petrol models, offering better fuel economy in return.
The previous generation car wasn’t much fun at all. Dull steering, lack of poise in corners and not much grip all added up to a pretty mediocre driving experience. The new CR-V is an improvement but there are better 4x4s out there in terms of on-the-road abilities.
It’s not what you would call entertaining. It does everything reasonably well but it’s not going to set the world on fire. Around corners there’s a reasonable amount of grip but it does lean when pushed hard. It’s most at home cruising on the motorway but it’s not built for enthusiastic B-road jaunts.
The steering is fundamentally dull, offering little feedback, but the brakes are strong and offer plenty of stopping power for emergency situations. The CR-V is not so strong in the corners as say a Ford Kuga, VW Tiguan or BMW X3 but it is acceptable and assured.