There are three engines to choose from, starting with the 1.6 i-DTEC diesel with 118bhp. Performance is flat below 1500rpm and a bit of effort is required to get the best out of it at speed. There’s also a twin-turbo version of the 1.6 with 158bhp, which is much more lively, pulling well from 2000rpm There's also a 2.0-litre petrol, which is willing, but not as gutsy as the diesels.
All engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while a nine-speed automatic is available on the more powerful diesel and a five-speed auto can be added to the 2.0-litre petrol. The petrol’s auto 'box feels slow and dated compared with the latest offerings from rival manufacturers, but the nine-speeder is impressive.
The more powerful diesel and petrol can be specced with two- or four-wheel drive, but the base diesel comes with just two-wheel drive.
Honda CR-V ride comfort
The CR-V is more comfort-oriented than some of its rivals, with comparatively soft suspension. It delivers up to a point, and the CR-V’s ride is generally forgiving over small bumps and potholes.
Unfortunately the car shimmies around on patched-up surfaces at all speeds, and over larger bumps and around bends the rather slack body control means that the CR-V can feel rather wallowy.
Higher-spec models have larger alloy wheels that add a marginally firmer edge to the ride than S and SE versions.
Honda CR-V handling
The CR-V handles well enough and provides plenty of grip, whether you’re driving a front- or four-wheel-drive model. All models feel secure and stable through corners, but the soft suspension means there’s more body lean than you get with many rivals, which can be unnerving if you enter a bend too quickly.
The steering is light, which makes the CR-V very easy to park, but it’s rather short of feel at speed.
Honda CR-V refinement
The CR-V is generally civilised. Occupants are well isolated from tyre and suspension noise, and although wind noise can build up around the chunky door mirrors, it’s never loud enough to get on your nerves. The CR-V isn’t as refined as a Volvo XC60 or BMW X3, however. The diesel engines stay reasonably hushed, only getting raucous if you rev them hard, although there’s a light buzz at the pedals even at more moderate engine speeds. However, the petrol engine is boomy when worked hard.
The front-wheel-drive versions have a sweeter manual gearshift than the four-wheel-drive cars, while the five-speed automatic gives rather clunky shifts. The nine-speed auto is a gem, though.
This diesel engine delivers very impressive – if not quite class-leading – fuel economy and CO2 emissions. Once you’ve overcome a bit of inertia at low revs there’s decent oomph on the move; refinement is pretty good as long as you keep the engine in its comfort zone. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed manual gearbox are your only transmission options.
1.6 i-DTEC 160
If outright cost isn’t too much of a worry, this is the CR-V engine to go for. Four-wheel drive comes as standard and there’s a choice of a six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic gearbox - the latter being our choice. Performance is strong and there’s not much difference between the manual and automatic on emissions and economy. Refinement is also impressive.
This is the only petrol engine that’s available for the CR-V. Performance is fine if you’re prepared to put a bit of work in but it does get rather boomy when pushed. Front- and four-wheel drive versions are available, depending on trim. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, while a five-speed is an option for four-wheel-drive models. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions aren’t great, and there’s very little difference between manual and automatic versions. This the cheapest way into the CR-V range and makes most sense for buyers that won’t cover many miles.