Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SR AWD long-term test | CAR Magazine

Honda CR-V long-term test trades up to a Hybrid

Published: 25 September 2019

► CAR lives with a Honda CR-V
► Half a year of daily life, swapping into hybrid
► Check back for our monthly reports

Month 6 of our Honda CR-V: the end of our half-year test, as we compare it with a CR-V Hybrid

There’s a lot the CR-V won’t let you do. Defy it and you unleash a variety of warning lights, on-screen messages and – for added annoyance –  vocal reprimands. You can switch off the sat-nav voice guidance, but the remorseless cockpit nanny can’t be silenced. 

There’s no way to switch the engine off yet keep the radio on. Worse, you can’t switch the radio off, or even down in volume, when you turn the car on and find Radio 1 playing, until the infotainment system boots up, which seems to take an age, like so much about the infotainment.

On cold start-up, you can’t stop the engine from automatically upping the tickover revs, presumably to elicit a speedier warm-up, which can play merry hell with reverse gear selection and clutch control if you’re not paying attention. Moreover, to make you feel even more of a learner driver, you can’t engage the hold function on the electronic handbrake unless you’re wearing a seatbelt. 

These slow, fussy aspects to the CR-V make for a gently fractious post-school-run ff-C kitchen atmosphere, and detract from the fact that, mechanically, the Honda is actually a perfectly respectable offering. Hence the missus’ invariable post-rant postscript: ‘But I do enjoy driving it.’

And so, up to a point, do I. The ride’s nicely judged for a family car, and even the evil-smelling dog has little cause for complaint. Or, rather, would have, were it not for the fact that the missus has only now realised that the plastic loadspace liner is removable and that you get far less unsolicited slithering and claw clattering if you settle your dog on carpet.

With the notable exception of the gearchange, which is something of a joy, all else does its job with minimal fuss, minimal feedback and no more than a modicum of driving pleasure. Push too hard and the Honda rolls like a toy dog when the lid comes off the biscuit tin, and the otherwise largely quiet engine becomes somewhat vocal in its efforts to please. 

In all, then, it’s hard to miss what you barely remember having.

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. Stay tuned to see how we get on with the petrol-electric CR-V Hybrid.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Count the cost: Honda CR-V depreciation

Cost new £32,295
Private sale £26,415
Part-exchange £25,145
Cost per mile 18.7p
Cost per mile including depreciation £2.31

Month 5 living with a Honda CR-V: tyred out

Honda CR-V long-term test

Given that it was not the season within which F Giles flails the local hedgerows into some semblance of submission while showering the roads with a resultant thorny detritus which he steadfastly refuses to clear up, it comes as something of a surprise to discover that the CR-V decided to celebrate the springing of, um, spring with a slow puncture.

Happily, we spotted this before enough air had bled and fled to effectively ground the rim. Nonetheless, the dermis of modern tyre sidewalls is so pathetically flimsy that risking even a partially deflated drive any further than you could fling a wellington boot is likely to unleash carefully orchestrated tooth-sucking at the local tyred and exhausted centre, followed by the inevitable ‘It’s buggered, mate’.

Fortunately, changing a wheel is deemed an essential ingredient of learning to drive at ff-C Towers, so the elder hooligan set to work with the Honda’s scissor jack, assisting only with helpful asides such as ‘Yes they are surprisingly heavy, aren’t they?’ and ‘We’ll pop a plaster on that once you’ve finished’.

Unfortunately, though the toolkit appeared to prove far more useful than the ubiquitous chocolate-fireguard offerings, the spare itself turns out to be a humble space-saver; this despite room in the luggage floor nest for the full-sized tyre ‘n’ rim combo that you cannot specify when you create your new car online.

‘It’s buggered, mate,’ opined the tyred and exhausted operative on discovering that the nail embedded in the tread was too close to the sidewall to make a repair a viable option. Not only buggered but white-rumped vulture-rare too, it transpires, so we’ll be pottering about on a front nearside rubber frisbee for a few days yet.

Still, the elder hooligan’s skinned knuckles should be healing nicely by the time the CR-V is back on an even keel again.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SR AWD

Price £31,745 (£32,295 as tested) 
Performance 1498cc turbo 4-cyl, 171bhp, 9.8sec 0-62mph, 130mph 
Efficiency 42.8mpg (official), 32.1mpg (tested), 151g/km CO2 
Energy cost 17.9p per mile 
Miles this month 6240 
Total miles 2149

Month 4 of our Honda CR-V long-term test: our crossover meets the Suzuki Jimny

CRV Jimny

This month, I have mostly been driving a Suzuki Jimny. Penned with the aid of the plastic six-inch ruler from a Helix geometry set, it boasts a lever-operated low transfer case, an indicator sound recorded by a bubblewrap-popping fanatic and steering that allows you to wedge a baby in the wheel and rock it to sleep without once deviating from a straight line.

Reminiscent of a Lada Niva in its ability to tiptoe blithely over cloying mud, this diminutive 4×4 is, above all, fun. However, like excavating a verruca with the aid of the compass from said geometry set, it’s not fun for all that long. And about two hours in the Jimny merely serves to remind me of the CR-V’s innate comfort and ride quality.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Month 3 living with a Honda CR-V crossover: infotainment and interior

Honda CR-V infotainment

In the same way that the average high street is now so overwhelmed by high-viz jackets that it’s become more interesting to speculate on what those not wearing them do for a living, the average family SUV is now so glutted with high-tech gadgetry that it’s become annoying to discover how little of it can be made to perform properly without recourse to the instruction manual.

None of which would actually matter if, firstly, ff-C family dogma did not clearly dictate: ‘If all else fails, read the instructions’ and, secondly, the CR-V’s instruction manual – despite being stout enough to readily wedge the doors of Westminster Abbey open in a stiff breeze – was of any help whatsoever.

So far, into the ‘if all else fails’ category have fallen the Ensemble icon on the radio screen, which steadfastly refuses to grant access to BBC Radio 4 Extra; the Hold function on the handbrake, which may or may not, with menopausal unpredictability; and the auto high-beam headlights, which like to disengage in harmony with the auto stop function.

And before you start lobbing Luddite labels around, two tech-savvy teenagers prove none the wiser either, despite being able to synch their phones to the car with suspicious ease.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SR AWD

Price £31,745 (£32,295 as tested)
Performance 1498cc turbo 4-cyl, 171bhp, 9.8sec 0-62mph, 130mph
Efficiency 42.8mpg (official), 32.1mpg (tested), 151g/km CO2
Energy cost 17.9p per mile
Miles this month 6240
Total miles 2149

Month 2 of our Honda CR-V long-term test: design questions

Honda CR-V crossover

Every new Honda brings with it a growing suspicion that whatever inspirational art once adorned the walls of the company’s design studio has lately been replaced by a large, glossy blow-up of a bucket of smashed crabs. Not content with having turned the once agreeably futuristic Civic into a cacophony of conflicting rhombi, Honda’s designers have now set upon the CR-V with equally vexing vim.

Adding layer upon layer of diverse ingredients may be an admirable approach to the construction of a Scooby Snack, but it rarely cuts the mustard when smeared onto pressed metal. When will the quality of an everyday Honda’s couture properly reflect the quality of the engineering?

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SR AWD

Price £31,745
As tested £32,295 
Engine 1498cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 171bhp @ 5600rpm, 162lb ft @ 1900rpm 
Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive  
Performance 9.8sec 0-62mph, 129mph, 151g/km CO2
Miles this month 627
Total 1509
Our mpg 32.8
Official mpg 42.8
Energy cost 17.5p

Month 1 living with a Honda CR-V: when the hedge fund runs dry

Honda CR-V long-term test by CAR magazine UK

Well, this should be interesting; not only because the ff-C brood is clambering somewhat reluctantly from a decidedly premium SUV to a similar offering some 17 grand less expensive and of as yet gently unresolved status, but also because – in the short interim– we’ve been rather relishing the schmoozematic delights of Ben W’s Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer.

We rather enjoy an estate car. Having long tired of what edible delights F Giles has to offer on his side of the Mudfordshire hedgerows, and no longer benefitting from a clear view ahead because the car in front is, inevitably, also an SUV, we have come to relish again both the quietness of a slippery shooting brake shape and its markedly less Poseidon Adventure dynamics.

Indeed, boasting price parity with this incoming CR-V (but for a few extras we can do without) and fuel consumption parity with the outgoing XC60, the Insignia has much to recommend it, especially if you can avoid a specimen finished in shouty red. It’s quiet, comfortable and – if you leave all the switchable sporty options alone – rides deliciously well, yet, when asked, is capable of a briskness unavailable to either the Honda or the Volvo.

There’s no question that Vauxhall’s instrumentation and screen graphics are badly in need of being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but the only two properly galling issues we’ve been able to unearth during our brief tenure are a lane-departure warning system that must be switched off every time you climb aboard, and a reversing lamp so dim that it would be more effective to confiscate the red flag from the chap running ahead and hand him a candle with which to walk behind…

Pish, Honda might readily retort to such musings. If your choice of conveyance is relentlessly limited by the accommodation requirements of two increasingly long hooligans and one increasingly evil-smelling dog, then opting for what the company claims is now the world’s best-selling SUV is surely a no-brainer. We’ll see…

Honda CR-V LTT interior

Specification-wise, we’ve opted for petrol over diesel, because a change is as good as a rest, and a manual gearbox over an automatic, because the latter is CVT and there’s already quite enough mooing going on over those Mudfordshire hedges. We didn’t opt for the top-of-the-range trim level either, this SR grade offering all we really need – sat-nav, smart entry and start, full leather, hot bots, etc, yet still – plus ca change – making us pay for the paint.

Ah; I say ‘all we really need’, but I fear we are going to sorely miss the memory function attendant to an electrically operated driver’s seat. Alas, the missus’ legs are infinitely longer than the short, fat, hairy offerings I inherited from my mother, so a certain amount of mildly humiliating shunting in the direction of forwards is an inevitable side-effect of car key handover.

To make matters more complex, the missus’ legs also seem to vary in length on a daily basis; it being impossible to second-guess precisely how much re-adjustment will be required at any given time.

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Honda CR-V 1.5T VTEC SR AWD

Price £31,745
As tested £32,295 
Engine 1498cc 16v turbo 4-cyl, 171bhp @ 5600rpm, 162lb ft @ 1900rpm 
Transmission 6-speed manual, all-wheel drive  
Performance 9.8sec 0-62mph, 129mph, 151g/km CO2
Miles this month 160
Total 885
Our mpg 33.8
Official mpg 42.8
Fuel this month £57.88
Extra costs None

Check out our Honda reviews

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche