- Just one petrol engine at launch
- Choice of manual and CVT transmissions
- Hybrid joined the range after
The engine line-up for the CR-V is an easy one to navigate, since it launched with a single 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine, but with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and manual or CVT automatic.
If you choose the manual-equipped 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo, there’s 173hp and 220Nm of torque, applicable to both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions. The front-wheel drive manual gets from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. Top speed is 131mph.
If you want the CVT transmission, the CR-V only comes with all-wheel drive, but comes with a slight boost in power to 193hp, as well as a bump in torque to 243Nm. The 0-62mph time is a little slower than the manual car at 10.0 seconds, and it’ll reach 124mph at top speed.
Despite the generous power output, the CR-V is best driven in a more relaxed manner as the 1.5-litre turbo engine can become a little coarse at higher revs, especially if you choose the CVT transmission.
While the power is delivered very smoothly in both manual and CVT forms, you’ll have to be patient as there’s nowhere near as much torque on offer as you’ll find in a diesel-equipped VW Tiguan or Mazda CX-5, for example.
If you choose the manual, you’ll need to make good use of the gearbox when overtaking, but the good news is that, like many other Honda gearboxes, it’s slick and a joy to use. The CVT, however, will take a little getting used to as the revs soar when you floor the throttle. It settles down quickly enough, but pointing the CR-V at a hill with a full load of passengers will take a bit of planning, patience and tolerance for the noise.
If you’re just pottering about town and on dual carriageways, the CR-V’s 1.5-litre engine is adequate and well-suited to the car. It remains quiet the rest of the time and will nip about traffic with ease, and also makes a nice change from a clattery diesel at lower speeds.
Shortly after the launch of the petrol, Honda bolstered the CR-V line-up with a new hybrid model. It uses a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a pair of electric motors for a combined system output of 184hp, putting it between manual and CVT versions of the regular petrol, at least in terms of power.
However, with 315Nm of torque available, it's the punchiest of the lot. It's available with front- or all-wheel drive, although in most driving conditions it's difficult to tell the difference. Because of this, we'd stick with the front-wheel drive as it's more economical and cheaper to buy in the first place.
It's a very refined hybrid powertrain, switching between one of three drive modes of its own accord: EV Drive, Hybrid Drive or Engine Drive.
- EV Drive - just uses the battery to power the wheels for up to 1.2 miles
- Hybrid Drive - uses a combination of engine and electric motor for most driving situations. Power is sent from the engine to charge a generator motor, which in turn sends power to a propulsion motor, and then on to the wheels
- Engine Drive - petrol engine directly powers the wheels
In action, it's a very refined set-up, one that is much less audible than the CVT-equipped petrol. It's quite gradual in the way it builds speed, but it's noticeably quieter in doing so, making it a better fit both in and out of town.
How does the Honda CR-V drive?
Despite its status as a fairly large family car, the CR-V handles remarkably well. By no means is it a Civic Type R in the corners, but it doesn’t roll and wallow about leaving you falling out of your seat, either.
The steering is more communicative than you might expect. Again, it’s not as feelsome as a Civic, but it’s nicely weighted and inspires confidence in where you’re pointing the CR-V on a twisty road.
Compared with something like the light steering of the VW Tiguan, its greater heft makes it more enjoyable when on a country road. Just don’t forget if you’ve got the kids in the back.
Body control is good, too. There’s some bodyroll noticeable due to the car’s tall body, but it doesn’t feel out of control and does feel a touch more agile than the Tiguan, too. It’s not quite as darty as a Mazda CX-5 or Ford Kuga, though, but manages to blend feeling controlled and comfortable very well. The nose of the car doesn’t lift and dive like the Mazda does, though, making it feel a little more civilised on the move.