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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For It's impressive on-road, extremely roomy and well equipped

Against It's not great off-road, and the part-time four-wheel-drive system kicks in too often

Verdict It's one of the best 4x4s (except off-road). It's spacious and practical, too

Go for… 2.0 VTEC SE

Avoid… Diesels

Honda CR-V 4x4
  • 1. Even basic SE trim has air-conditioning, all-round electric windows and good safety kit
  • 2. Cabin space is excellent - in fact, no other mid-sized 4x4 is bigger
  • 3. Some owners have reported cars cutting out or losing power, with the exhaust gas recirculation valve to blame
  • 4. You'd need to do loads of miles before the costly diesel engine makes financial sense - the petrol engine is best and more refined
  • 5. Boot space is very good, and the split-folding rear seats give extra versatility
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Honda CR-V 4x4 full review with expert trade views

The CR-V is more a pumped-up estate than out-and-out off-roader. In fact, 4WD only kicks in when it's needed, so for the bulk of the time, you're driving a front-wheel-drive car.

In other words, and as Honda will admit, this is basically a road car with some (very limited) off-road ability. That means, with no awkward compromises to strike between its on- and off-road abilities, the car can concentrate on one thing - and so it does, to tremendous effect.

On Tarmac, the CR-V is a fine drive, with the emphasis on comfort. That does mean it's not quite as sharp as a Toyota RAV4, but there are no complaints about its smooth ride.

Also excellent is its cabin space - in fact, no other contemporary mid-sized 4x4 is bigger. It will happily double as a family car and, with sliding, split-folding rear seats, it even has something of an MPV's flexibility.

Trade view

John Owen

Great soft roader - SE models look boring on steel wheels

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

The CR-V has never been a particularly extensive range, and it was only in early 2005 that a second engine, the 2.2-litre diesel, joined the range. Until then, all you could have was a 2.0-litre petrol.

Mind you, even after that, the petrol remained the best buy. Sure, the diesel is more fuel-efficient and delivers much stronger pull at low revs, but its refinement is a real disappointment, especially given how good it is in the Accord - and, because the diesel costs more to buy, you'll need to do a lot of miles before it makes financial sense.

Likewise, you only have a limited choice of trims, but there's no need to spend more than on the basic SE. This has air-conditioning, all-round electric windows and good safety kit. Sport upgrades the air-conditioning to climate control and adds alloy wheels, while Executive adds leather upholstery and sat-nav, but they're not worth the extra expense.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Strong seller and clean 2.0 ES Autos with air-con are the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The CR-V isn't the cheapest 4x4 to buy used, but at least there's a certain feeling of quality to justify the prices. Prices are close to the Land Rover Freelander, but cheaper than the Toyota RAV4.

For fuel economy, it's one of the best in its class. The 2.0-litre petrol engine returns 31mpg - considerably better than the 1.8-litre Freelander and only just behind the RAV4. The diesel manages 42.2mpg, well ahead of the Freelander and even beating the diesel RAV4.

Servicing costs also undercut its main rivals', but insurance does it no favours. It's in at least group 11, when the Land Rover and Toyota are generally a group lower across the range.

Average repair costs for the CR-V are quite cheap by class standards - a little less than for the RAV4, and much less the Freelander. Dealer labour rates are also good, but at independents they're quite expensive.

Trade view

John Owen

Great soft roader - SE models look boring on steel wheels

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

This CR-V has been the subject of two recalls (one relating to possible damage to the sidewall of the tyres, and the other concerning the seat belt anchorage), but both affected only tiny numbers of cars.

There have also been reports of cars cutting out or losing power, with the exhaust gas recirculation valve to blame. Examine the service records, and if it hasn't been replaced, insist that it is.

Other than that, there have been glowing reviews all the way. The CR-V finished in the overall top 20 in recent JD Power surveys, with its mechanical reliability and build quality consistently rated as above average.

In that sense, it merely follows in the wheeltracks of other Hondas - the company ranked as top manufacturer in our 2005 Reliability Survey. Warranty Direct figures say the CR-V is one of the most reliable cars on its fleet, better even than the also-excellent RAV4, and streets ahead of the Freelander.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Strong seller and clean 2.0 ES Autos with air-con are the pick

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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