Honda CR-V Hybrid long-term test: report 4

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 hybrid city driving, front 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 3720 List price £48,995 Target Price £48,020 Price as tested £49,990 Test economy 36.6mpg Official economy 42.8mpg

30th January 2024 – Entering the CR-V’s comfort zone

So far, my Honda CR-V's average fuel economy figure of around 35mpg has been a little underwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, this is far from a disaster, but when you consider all the clever hybrid tech on board, it’s fair to say I would have expected my trip computer to display something closer to 40mpg.

However, I do acknowledge the majority of my journeys have been spent on the motorway, which isn’t really the environment where the electric motors can lend much of a hand to take the strain off the petrol engine (and therefore save a bit on fuel).

Honda CR-V hybrid dials, EV logo 2023

This has changed quite dramatically over the past month, though, since I’ve been spending more time driving within London visiting friends I hadn’t been able to see over the festive period. This means I spend more time queuing in traffic and rarely reach speeds above 40mph. I also get to cover more of my journey time on electric power (the CR-V shows me when I'm running on electricity with an EV logo appearing on the instrument panel) and with the petrol engine off.

As a result, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to reset my CR-V’s trip computer and attempt to beat my personal best of 41.2mpg. Normally, driving through London fills me with dread, because the frequent stop-start motion means it takes a long time just to cover a handful of miles. Recently, though, my new mission has allowed me to forget about my arrival time and focus on letting the petrol engine snooze for as long as possible.

The CR-V’s battery capacity is able to cover most of those short, incremental stints in between traffic lights without needing to wake up the engine. Indeed, I've made a concerted effort to set off from stationary as smoothly as possible, but I've not had to dramatically change my driving style.

Honda CR-V hybrid, reset the trip computer

As well as using the engine, the hybrid's small battery also charges up under braking, meaning you quickly have some juice to go again after coming to a halt. My CR-V also has four levels of regenerative braking that helps harvest back some energy that can be used to top up the battery while slowing you down, which can be adjusted via paddles on the back of the steering wheel.

It must be noted, too, that I didn't stop using my CR-V as a comfortable car in the search for better economy. I stuck with the CR-V’s ‘Normal’ drive mode, and I used the heated seats and steering wheel and adjusted the climate control temperature accordingly to warm up.

Even so, the highest figure on the trip computer has been 43.2mpg. After leaving the office one evening, a particular 12-mile route involved driving in congested traffic through a mixture of 20 and 30mph speed zones with a brief stint on the A316 dual carriageway at 40mph. After the initial warming up period when leaving the car park, the petrol engine only woke up a few times to lend a helping hand – which also helped make for serene progress.

Honda CR-V hybrid city driving, side 2023

Things weren’t quite as impressive on the return journey back to work in the morning. With temperatures down to -6 degrees celsius, the engine spent most of the journey running in the background, despite the battery meter showing a high level of charge. I suspect this was to help warm up the CR-V as quickly as possible, and the result was a significant drop to 37.2mpg. That’s still better than what I’d achieved so far on the motorway, though, and far better than what I'd expect from a similarly-sized family SUV running on just a petrol engine.

Overall, it's been a successful mission. I'm glad I gave the CR-V a chance to step up and make full use of its hybrid tech. It managed to boost fuel economy without the need for me to readjust how I use it. Besides, if it makes city driving a little more interesting, I'm taking that as a big win.

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