Parkers overall rating: 3.8 out of 5 3.8
  • Petrol and hybrid engines
  • Choice of manual and automatic transmissions
  • No diesels

The engine line-up for the CR-V is an easy one to navigate. There's a 1.5-litre petrol, or a 2.0-litre hybrid, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive and manual or 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 four-wheel drive versions. The front-wheel drive manual gets from 0-62mph in 9.3 seconds. Top speed is 131mph.

If you want the automatic transmission, the CR-V only comes with four-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 automatic transmission. This is because Honda uses a CVT (continuously variable transmission) style gearbox. Instead of gears, it uses a pair of pulleys. It's a simpler construction which is good for packaging. The downside is that the engine revs sound like they're soaring, even when you're just modestly accelerating. This can grow tiresome.

While the power is delivered very smoothly in both manual and automatic 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’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. 

Honda hybrid

Honda's hybrid model 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 two modes of propulsions. 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

It's quite gradual in the way it builds speed, but it's noticeably quiet in doing so, making it a better fit both in and out of town. 

>> Best hybrid cars in the UK

How does the Honda CR-V handle?

  • Well-weighted steering
  • Set up with families in mind
  • Sportier options available

Despite its status as a fairly large family car, the CR-V handles remarkably well. By no means is it a Honda 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 doesn't offer as much feedback through the seat and wheel 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.