First Drive

First Drive: Honda CR-V Hybrid

The story:
Honda’s new CR-V off-roader launches with petrol or, for the first time, petrol-electric hybrid engine options – there’s no diesel with this latest generation of car.
Category:SUV
Key rival:Toyota RAV4
Honda CR-V 2.0 Hybrid EX AWD
Price:£37,045
MPG:51.4mpg
Emissions:126g/km
On sale:Now

Honda has taken what looks like a bold decision not to offer a diesel engine in the new CR-V, despite diesel still proving popular with buyers in this segment. In reality, it is one driven by international trends.

It’s come about because of the shift away from diesel, albeit amplified in Honda’s case by the fact that its European business is dwarfed by others, notably America where there is little demand for diesel. But hybrid powertrains are growing.

So we’ve got a regular 173hp petrol engine, or the 184hp petrol-electric hybrid, which is capable of running the car for short periods on battery only.

The hybrid comes only in CVT automatic transmission form, but with front- or four-wheel drive; the latter adds 6g/km and £1100, and isn’t available in the base S specification. Meanwhile, the front-drive model isn’t offered in the top EX trim.

The hybrid powertrain impresses for its refinement; it still suffers a little in terms of engine noise, but is better than rivals’ hybrid powertrains and running on electric power is a pleasantly silent affair. Overall, it’s not a car that likes to be hustled down a road, but does offer good levels of ride comfort.

It’s also a very big car, although there isn’t a seven-seat option because of the packaging of the batteries (there is a seven-seat petrol version); the quoted 497 litres of luggage space seems low for what looks like such a cavernous boot. That luggage space isn’t at the expense of rear passenger comfort, because there’s plenty of head and legroom there.

First Drive-March 2019-Honda CR-V-Image 1The cabin offers plenty of high-quality materials, especially on this top-spec EX model, and equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, electric heated seats, head-up display and hands-free tailgate. However, the buttons to engage the automatic gearbox, instead of a more traditional stick or dial, take a little getting used to.

The 126g/km emissions figure for this four-wheel drive CR-V hybrid looks good – it’s 1g/km behind the Peugeot 5008, though well behind the new hybrid Toyota RAV4. Residuals and running costs all give the Honda a good chance of grabbing the attention of company car operators, and the lack of a four-band BIK penalty gives the car an advantage over diesel rivals.

 

 

 

Paul Barker

The verdict

The CR-V hybrid makes sense for business operators, and is practical, efficient and well kitted. In the absence of diesel, it offers a good hybrid powertrain.