Honda CR-V long-term test: report 1

Can the latest breed of hybrid SUV cope with a monster commute? Our senior photographer, who previously ran a diesel Honda CR-V, is finding out...

Honda CR-V

The car: Honda CR-V 2.0i-MMD Hybrid 2WD SR eCVT Run by: Will Williams, senior photographer

Why it’s here: To find out if the new breed of hybrid SUVs handle not-very-urban driving

Needs to: Be comfortable, smooth-riding and economical on a colossal commute, with plenty of space for photography equipment

Price £35,570 Price as tested £36,420 Miles 4540 Official economy 49.6mpg (WLTP) Test economy 40.7mpg Options fitted Premium Crystal Red paint (£850)

3 June 2019 – Honda CR-V Hybrid joins our fleet

I’ve been here before. Sort of. A few years ago I ran a Honda CR-V – one of the first models of the previous shape. And I enjoyed my time with it for the most part.

Okay, its 2.2-litre diesel engine and five-speed automatic didn’t exactly set my pants on fire, but I have fond memories all the same, because build quality was impressive, nothing ever went wrong and it generally made life easy.

So now I’ve plumped for its successor, which has a slightly more 2019-appropriate narrative attached to it, because it’s a hybrid. This two-wheel drive SUV gets a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, along with a lithium ion battery stuffed under the boot floor and an electric motor to help propel it along.

LT Hyundai Ioniq goodbye

I’m no stranger to alternative fuel cars – it wasn’t that long ago I was running the hybrid Hyundai Ioniq (above) – but I’m also not exactly the pin-up boy for them.

You see, any car run by me can expect to relentlessly collect motorway miles – so much so that the odometer resembles the numbers on a slot machine – whereas hybrids have traditionally been at their best in town. So, is the latest Honda tech up to the challenge?

In all honesty, coming from a Volkswagen Amarok pick-up, with its massive 80-litre tank and big pump-to-pump range, I was a little concerned that my desire to go green might come back to bite me. However, even in these early days with the CR-V, I can see those fears were misplaced.

LT Honda CR-V Hybrid side

I’ve even beaten the official average of 49.6mpg on longer runs, and so far I've only needed to put in is 45 litres of petrol. So, you still get a decent range and don’t have to wait ages at the pumps.

I’ve gone for SR trim, which is one down from the range-topper. This adds things like heated front seats, LED front fog lights and passenger seat lumbar support to a list of equipment that already includes a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system, four USB ports and dual-zone climate control along with front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera. Indeed, the car us so well specced that I only had to dip into the options list to pick out the fetching shade of Premium Crystal Red pearlescent paint (yours for £850).

SR trim also gets an upgraded stereo which makes an awesome sound. However, I’ve had a bit of trouble with the radio; I live in the sticks, and it seems the DAB reception regularly cuts out when you're out of the big smoke.

LT Honda CR-V Hybrid infotainment system

Looks are obviously subjective, but to my eyes the latest CR-V looks a lot sleeker than its predecessors. And while I'm less keen on the plastic 'wood' used to decorate the interior, it has a pretty clean design, with just enough buttons and dials to keep things simple, without the dashboard becoming a cluttered mess.

There’s plenty of competition in the large SUV class, including the Peugeot 5008Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan. But very few offer a hybrid option – it’s really only the Toyota RAV4 that’s a direct rival.

I’m therefore looking forward to seeing whether the CR-V lives up to its early promise. And, with my previous experience, it’ll be interesting to see how far it has come since I last spent time with one.

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