Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid is the pick of the range. It's really lively, with instant reactions when you put your foot down from its standard CVT automatic gearbox and plenty of poke to get you up to 70mph without any drama. It clocked 0-60mph in 8.0sec when we tested it, which on the day just shaded the Kia Sorento Hybrid and trounced the Land Rover Discovery Sport P200.
You don't have to have the Hybrid, though. There’s also the 1.5 VTEC Turbo. It's not as fast as the Hybrid, getting from 0-62mph in around 10sec, and that's whether you go for the 190bhp CVT automatic or the six-speed manual. Oddly, the manual has slightly less power (171bhp) and needs revving more aggressively than a Skoda Kodiaq 1.5 TSI 150.
Both the 1.5 VTEC and the Hybrid CR-V are available with two- or four-wheel drive. It’s worth bearing in mind that the hybrid can tow only 750kg, while the 1.5 VTEC auto can tow up to two tonnes, which is the same as the Discovery Sport.
Suspension and ride comfort
If you're looking for comfort the CR-V is a sound choice. With a suspension set-up that is on the soft side, it is effortlessly compliant over most surfaces. Even the most vicious crags don't cause a thump, takes speed bumps in its stride and it feels much calmer than stiffer rivals, such as the Mazda CX-5, on pimply motorways.
It doesn't quite match the pillowy comfort offered by a Citroën C5 Aircross but, as an upside, the CR-V feels better tied down over undulations and less likely to trouble passengers prone to bouts of travel-sickness. The Sorento is even better in that regard, while still also staying pretty comfortable the rest of the time.
This class has ‘large’ and ‘SUV’ in the title – two adjectives not normally associated with nimble handling. Yet, while large SUVs don’t generally handle as well as low-riding cars, there are some tidy offerings around; most notably the Mazda CX-5, but the 5008 and the Tiguan aren’t too shabby, either.
The CR-V isn’t at their level, with more body lean in bends so it's less keen to change direction, but it's not as wallowy as the uber-soft C5 Aircross. It steers well, too, with just the right amount of weight and response to allow you to guide it along quite challenging twists and turns with very little thought or drama.
If you live down the bottom of a muddy lane the four-wheel drive option might be useful. However, the CR-V is nothing like as competent off road as the Discovery Sport.
Noise and vibration
Rev the 1.5 VTEC Turbo petrol engine hard and it sounds like a dog that’s had its tail trodden on; it barks like a sports car but is also whiny and coarse at certain points in the rev range. Driven less vigorously it's not too bad, but a Tiguan is quieter. The six-speed manual gearbox has a precise action and the clutch pedal light and easy to meter, as are the CR-V's brakes.
The CVT automatic versions (this is standard on the 2.0 Hybrid and available as an option on the 1.5 VTEC Turbo) does strange things, like sending the revs soaring up gentle inclines, which can seem quite out of kilter with what you might expect. The CVT 'box is seamless, though, and the 2.0 Hybrid isn't a rough-sounding engine. And it's very quiet when just the electric motor is pulling you along for short spells in town.
Whatever CR-V you buy, you'll hear lots of road and wind noise at motorway speeds. The C5 Aircross and 5008 are much better at suppressing both.
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