Honda CR-V Hybrid long-term test: report 1

Being a big family SUV with a hybrid engine should make the Honda CR-V pretty hot property right now. But, does it have its work cut out over the next few months?...

Honda CR-V long term test, driving 2023

The car Honda CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid Advance | Run by Lawrence Cheung, new cars editor

Why it's here Honda's latest e:HEV hybrid system has impressed us in the Civic hatchback, so does it work just as well in its bigger stablemate?

Needs to Fit everyone in with long distance comfort in mind and require infrequent stops to the petrol station

Mileage 1369 List price £48,995 Target Price £48,020 Price as tested £49,990 Test economy 38.7mpg Official economy 42.8mpg Options fitted Premium Crystal Red metallic paint (£995) 

17 November 2023 – From magazine to reality

In 1997 (coincidentally, around this time of year), when I was still in primary school, one of the group tests I was reading in What Car? was quite an important one in the SUV world. You see, the original Land Rover Freelander had just arrived on the scene, becoming the smallest and most affordable model in the brand’s range.

It was pitted against the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, and while the Freelander (unsurprisingly) felt the most rugged of the three, the CR-V was recognised as having the best engine, and its Honda Civic-like controls made it the most car-like to drive. Twenty-six years later, I reckon there are some parallels between that original CR-V and the car currently parked on my driveway.

Honda CR-V long term review, driving interior 2023

The CR-V’s 2.0-litre petrol engine may now be bolstered by a hybrid system, but this only makes it more appealing – at least on paper. I’ve previously been impressed by its punchy performance and fuel-sipping ability in the latest Civic family hatchback, and I’m hopeful that it will offer similar strengths in the bigger CR-V.

Two electric motors propel you along most of the time in town, with the petrol engine acting only as a generator to keep the battery topped up; I’ve already noticed how quiet this makes the car in stop-start traffic. As you head up to motorway speeds, meanwhile, the engine starts to drive the wheels directly to make it easier to keep up with traffic.

Then, there’s the interior. The dashboard looks similar to the latest Civic’s, which means it has a healthy balance of digital screens (one for instrumentation and another for the touchscreen infotainment system) and physical controls (including for the climate control). It's been very easy to get to grips with, and the only slight oddity I’ve noticed so far is that you have to set the temperature a few degrees higher than in most other cars to get any hot air through the vents.

Honda CR-V long term review, climate controls, 2023

I’ve gone for Advance trim, which is the highest available for the CR-V if you go for hybrid power. You can add a bodykit (called the Aero Pack, for £2650) and a couple of alternative designs for the 18in wheels, but I left those boxes unticked. Instead, the only option I went for is the Premium Crystal Red metallic paint, costing £995, with this taking my car’s total price to £49,990.

As a cash purchase, then, my CR-V is quite expensive, setting you back more than hybrid versions of the Ford Kuga, Hyundai Tucson and Kia Sportage. However, you do get a lot of equipment for that money, including leather upholstery, powered driver’s seat adjustment (with memory settings), ambient interior lighting, adaptive cruise control, and a head-up display that projects key information onto the windscreen.

Furthermore, now that we’re officially in winter, I’m making full use of the heated seats (fitted front and rear) and heated steering wheel – features that were absent from my previous car, a Peugeot 308 SW estate.

Honda CR-V long term review, driving side, 2023

Ah, yes, the 308 SW. The practicality that car offered really suited my lifestyle. But, if anything, the CR-V looks like it should perform even better in that regard, because it’s bigger in every dimension; indeed, back-seat passengers have already commented on how they’re able to stretch out and relax a bit more.

Whether it's a car full of family and luggage travelling around the country, or just the reviews team on their way to get a burger to fuel further What Car? Car of the Year Awards discussions, it'll be an interesting challenge trying to maximise the CR-V's practicality.

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