Honda CR-V Hybrid long-term test: rubbish, and lots of it

Published: 17 January 2020

► From one CR-V to another
► Hybrid under the microscope
► Snapper Alex is reporting

Month 5 living with a Honda CR-V hybrid: junk in the trunk

When I first got the CR-V I noted that its hybrid hardware ate into the boot space and ruled out the third row of seats available on other CR-Vs. Well, having five seats rather than seven hasn't been a problem yet, and the boot has proved itself to be usefully big and well shaped. The 2019 car is bigger than the old CR-V, remember, and that growth means rear passengers get 30mm more legroom – or, if you fold the rear seats down, luggage capacity is 1697 litres, 70 litres more than the old model. (You get more still – 1756 litres – in a non-hybrid.)

This has become highly relevant for me lately, as the '20s cottage we moved to recently has gifted us with plenty of rubbish for me to remove.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Honda CR-V Hybrid SR AWD

Price £34,470 (£35,320 as tested) 
Performance 1993cc hybrid four-cylinder, 144bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph 
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 39.4mpg (tested), 126g/km C02 
Energy cost 15.0p per mile 
Miles this month 3234
Total miles 7403


Month 4 living with a Honda CR-V Hybrid: a very good family crossover

CR-V hybrid roadside

I’ve just returned to the CR-V after driving a Jaguar F-Pace SVR for a week as a happy by-product of a photographic assignment involving shooting Jag’s ballistic XE SVR Project 8. The F-Pace SVR isn’t quite as extreme as the Project 8 – just the 542bhp, not the saloon’s 592bhp – but it’s breathing the same air.  

On my return journey from Coventry to Peterborough in the CR-V I’m struck that this is half the car of that F-Pace in almost every way. Same number of wheels, same number of seats – but then everything gets sharply divergent, starting with the price: £35k for my CR-V, £75k for the Jag SUV. 

The engines embody entirely different philosophies about four-wheeled transport. In the 2.0-litre Honda hybrid you pull away in pure EV mode. It emits a hum that isn’t quite loud enough to warn pedestrians of your approach. By contrast, the supercharged 5.0-litre V8 in the Jaguar barks and growls like it’s alive, and on a mission to savage your licence.

I hadn’t previously been particularly conscious of it, but on this journey I instantly notice that the Honda’s driving position feels awkward, with insufficient adjustment to let me get into a more comfortable position. It’s the same seat I’d used when I drove the same route in the opposite direction a week earlier, but I’ve been spoilt by the Jaguar. In the CR-V it feels like you’re perched on the driver’s seat rather than sat in it, and there’s no lumbar support. 

Honda CR-V Hybrid long-term test

Throughout the Honda’s cabin, the materials, fit and finish are half as good as the Jaguar’s. The plastics feel cheap and the leather might as well be fake.

Turning to the car’s exterior, the panel gaps are just bizarre. Why so big? And the hollow sound the doors make as you slam them shut reaffirms a lack of premium-ness.

And the road noise that makes its way into the cabin means you have to crank up the stereo to make any sense of the sat-nav. 

None of this counts against the CR-V’s familiar plus points of tough, unfussy practicality and family-friendly convenience. But don’t go mistaking it for something as special as the Jaguar. Or as  expensive.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Honda CR-V Hybrid SR AWD

Price £34,470 (£35,320 as tested)
Performance 1993cc hybrid four-cylinder, 144bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 39.9mpg (tested), 126g/km C02
Energy cost 17.2p per mile
Miles this month 448
Total miles 4169


Month 3 of our Honda CR-V Hybrid long-term test: long-distance family trip test

Alex Tapley and friends/family on board the Honda CR-V Hybrid

The CR-V got to take on chauffeur duties recently for a friend's wedding. Our – ahem – impeccable timing meant we got stuck in not one but two accidents on the way there, one of them clearly serious enough to close the road and have everyone turn their engines off. In the end the 90-minute journey took over four and a half hours.

With snacks stashed away in the plentiful cubbyholes, pregnant Mrs T's formidable hunger-anger was kept at bay. We missed the ceremony but arrived just in time for the wedding breakfast. The Honda's cabin proved plenty big enough and comfortable for four adults, contained as we were while the authorities cleared up the mess on the A421.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Honda CR-V Hybrid SR AWD

Price £34,470 (£35,320 as tested)
Performance 1993cc four-cyl plus electric motor, 144bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 39.1mpg (tested), 126g/km C02
Energy cost 15.4p per mile
Miles this month 1968
Total miles 2971


Month 2 living with a Honda CR-V Hybrid: shock as CVT is okay

Honda CR-V hybrid paddle

Let's get straight to that white elephant in the room: our CR-V Hybrid's CVT 'box. My initial fears of loathing it and wanting to drive the car off a cliff haven't quite materialised.

Don't get me wrong: put your foot anywhere near the go pedal and it sounds like a fox being flayed outside your bedroom window. Thing is, all the non-CVT automatics I've driven recently have been set up to engage high gears quickly, and hold on to them doggedly, in search of lower emissions. This results in slow pick-up and jerky gearchanges. And in truth that is more annoying than the CR-V's CVT, which is seamless, and almost as smooth as a good electric drivetrain.

But I'm baffled by the shift paddles behind the steering wheel. Rather than shifting between artifical steps, which some CVTs have built in, the Honda's don't seem to do anything at all.

By Alex Tapley

Logbook: Honda CR-V Hybrid SR AWD

Price £34,470 (£35,320 as tested)
Performance 1993cc four-cyl plus electric motor, 144bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 39.1mpg (tested), 126g/km C02
Energy cost 15.4p per mile
Miles this month 1968
Total miles 2971


Month 1 living with a Honda CR-V hybrid: hello and welcome

Honda CR-V hybrid hello

Our new CR-V is the hybrid, which has six months to prove itself to be more than just a way of business users paying a little less tax. The 2.0 petrol four is linked to the i-MMD (Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive) system, using an electric motor to up power and take the CO2 output down to a respectable 126g/km, which should make it a tempting proposition for those whose next move is dictated by company car schemes.

I'm interested to see whether the hybrid's fuel consumption will get close to the manufacturer's claimed 51.4mpg in my typical use: long trips, heavily laden with photographic gear, driving fast in an attempt to keep up with the more powerful cars I tend to photograph for CAR; or more sedate trips with my young (but growing) family on board.

Honda's CVT 'box has received a lot of flak over the years. I got on fine with it in the Jazz, so I'll be interested to see how it performs in this far larger car.

Read our regular CR-V long-term test reports

In SR spec (one down from top EX), the only added extra we've gone for is the pearlescent Premium Crystal Red paint (£850), putting the car on the road at £35,320. As standard I've got leather, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, built-in sat-nav and Apple CarPlay (I don't typically get on with that).

The fourth-generation CR-V doesn't look very different from its predecessor but it has a longer wheelbase, which contributes to an additional 30mm of rear legroom; I rarely have adults in the back, but it's surprisingly important when you've got a toddler's child seat fixed in. Those Isofix points will also come in handy once again when child number two makes an appearance later this year.

Ours is all-wheel drive, which with other powertrains is available with seven seats, but in hybrid form is strictly five seats. The batteries eat into the boot space, ruling out a third row of seats. But as things stand, the luggage space seems like a decent size at 497 litres and will take all my photography/family paraphernalia with ease.

Logbook: Honda CR-V Hybrid SR AWD

Price £34,470 (£35,320 as tested)
Performance 1993cc four-cyl plus electric motor, 144bhp, 9.2sec 0-62mph, 112mph
Efficiency 51.4mpg (official), 39.1mpg (tested), 126g/km C02
Energy cost 15.4p per mile
Miles this month 1968
Total miles 2971

Check out our Honda reviews

By Alex Tapley

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

Comments