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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The CR-V drives well on the road. It's also very reliable and spacious inside

Against It has limited off-road ability, and there's too much grey plastic in the cabin

Verdict It's a fine family car – just stick to the Tarmac

Go for… LS cars

Avoid… ES Executives

Honda CR-V 4x4
  • 1. Apart from using too much drab plastic, the cabin is hard to fault
  • 2. Four-wheel drive only kicks in when the system detects the front wheels slipping; otherwise, it runs in front-wheel drive
  • 3. Suspension bushes and brake discs may need attention after about 50,000 miles
  • 4. The CR-V makes a fine alternative to a conventional estate car
  • 5. There's more rear legroom than in a Toyota RAV4
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Honda CR-V 4x4 full review with expert trade views

Along with the Toyota RAV4, the CR-V was one of the first so-called soft-roaders - cars with the looks and image of an off-roader, but which were set up more for on-road use.

In fact, never mind low-ratio gears, the CR-V doesn’t even have permanent four-wheel drive. Normally, it drives just the front wheels, and four-wheel drive only kicks in when the system detects the front wheels slipping.

As such, the CR-V has only very limited ability away from Tarmac, but on the road it’s one of the best of its type, with good handling and a decent ride.

As far as practicality goes, the CR-V makes a fine case as an alternative to an estate car. Apart from using too much drab plastic, the cabin is hard to fault, with good space in the front and more rear legroom than in a RAV4.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Increasing numbers, especially SE models, but diesels easier to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Honda keeps things nice and simple when it comes to engine choice in this original CR-V – there’s only a 2.0-litre petrol engine. However, you’re better off buying a model from after March 1999 (T-reg), when a new version of the engine, with more power and slightly better fuel economy, was introduced.

As the same time, a higher-spec trim (ES Executive) was also introduced, with a CD multichanger and leather upholstery as standard. However, this trim remained on sale for a little over two years before being dropped, leaving the base LS or ES trims.

We’d always favour the cheaper, better-selling LS over the dearer ES as the extra kit (including alloys and heated mirrors) isn’t worth the extra money. Again it’s worth buying a model from after March 1999, as air-con (previously an option) became standard from then on.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but higher than average bills due to suspension and engine problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

As a used car, the CR-V costs almost exactly the same as the Land Rover Freelander and RAV4, and of its obvious rivals only the Subaru Forester is cheaper – and even then, by only a few hundred pounds.

As for running costs, the CR-V looks pretty good. Routine maintenance costs are lower than on a Freelander or a RAV4, and its 29.1mpg on the combined cycle is also very respectable.

The CR-V sits in groups 9-11 for insurance, which is no worse than any of its rivals and better than the Forester. Similarly, in the unlikely event that you need unscheduled work on your CR-V, there should be no nasty shocks. Warranty Direct tells us that repairs on Hondas cost no more than average (although some suspension and engine repairs on the CR-V can be dear), while labour rates at dealers are among the lowest.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Increasing numbers, especially SE models, but diesels easier to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

One of the biggest attractions of the CR-V is that there isn’t very much to worry about. In fact, with no recalls affecting the car, and Warranty Direct reporting that it’s one of the most reliable cars on their fleet, pretty much all you need to do is look out for a car that’s in a colour you like, and with the specification you want.

As long as a CR-V has been maintained according to the schedule, it should run and run. The only note of caution is that the suspension bushes and brake discs may need attention after about 50,000 miles

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but higher than average bills due to suspension and engine problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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