Honda CR-V estate performance
This is an easy section to write, because there’s only one engine available. It’s a 1.5-litre petrol, turbocharged to give out a reasonable 171bhp when hooked up to the six-speed manual gearbox. Curiously, if you choose the CVT auto ’box, this is boosted to 190bhp, with a bit more torque to boot.
In either form, it’ll get the big CR-V from 0-62mph in just under 10 seconds (according to our sources at Honda) and it’s peppy enough. Keep the revs above 2000rpm and it’ll pull you along reasonably well, even in forth and fifth gears and, between 3000rpm and its limiter, it builds speed progressively. Ultimately, its pace is roughly on a par with a 1.4 TSI 150 Skoda Kodiaq or Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, but there are plenty of quicker large SUVs out there.
Also, it’s worth bearing in mind that so far we have driven on mainly flat roads with a maximum of two people in the car; there’s every chance that, with seven-up and a hill to climb, you’ll be cursing the lack of added mid-range whoosh that a diesel option would’ve offered. Yes, that’s right – we say ‘would’ve’, because there will be no diesel engine offered in the CR-V. However, expect to see a petrol hybrid join the range come early 2019.
Honda CR-V estate ride
Ride quality in our early drives is a mixed bag. The two-wheel-drive model, featuring 18in alloy wheels, lacks body composure over small undulations and, as a result, wobbles from side to side annoyingly. It’s not particularly smooth over more abrupt indentations, either.
But we’ll have to see whether that’s a trait of CR-Vs generally or a problem specific to our test car, because the four-wheel-drive version - with exactly the same wheels and supposedly the same suspension settings – feels better. Firmer, yes, but not noticeably harsher over the sharper stuff, yet demonstrably better damped, and therefore calmer, the rest of the time. Mind you, on the evidence we have so far, the CR-V is unlikely to match the comfort offered by the best-riding versions of the Tiguan, Kodiaq or Peugeot 5008.
Honda CR-V estate handling
This class has ‘large’ in the title – an adjective not normally associated with nimble things. Yet while SUVs don’t generally handle as well as low-riding cars, there are some tidy-handling offerings in this class, most notably the Mazda CX-5, but also the 5008 and Tiguan.
The CR-V isn’t in that company. Where the CX-5 feels eager to tuck in to turns (for a large SUV), the CR-V - with its slower steering off-centre and conspicuous body lean - is less lithe and less keen to change direction. It’s grippy, mind, and the steering improves the more lock you apply, getting quicker as well as heftier.
Honda CR-V estate refinement
Rev the little 1.5-litre petrol engine hard and it sounds like a dog that’s had its tail trodden on; at times it barks like sports car rather than a wafty SUV, and at points in the rev range it’s also whiny and coarse. That said, keep the revs low and the accelerator merely tickled and it’s perfectly acceptable.
The extra power and torque you get with the automatic model helps to keep the revs from flaring most of the time – something that’s often an annoying attribute of CVT gearboxes.
Of course, you can control the revs more easily with the manual gearbox, but then you’d have to put up with its notchy, recalcitrant change. The clutch operates innately, though, and the brakes on all versions are strong yet progressive.
Sadly, road noise is also strong, even at moderate speeds, while wind noise picks up when you hit the motorway.