There’s a good reason why the Honda CR-V ranks consistently among the world’s best-selling SUVs. Actually, there are a few reasons.
The original CR-V was launched in 1995 to widespread acclaim, and its descendants have remained popular, largely due to Honda’s characteristic blend of reliability, practicality and frugality.
This latest CR-V arrived in the UK in 2018 with a competitive 561-litre boot and significantly improved interior technology, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It also abandoned Honda’s popular diesel engine and gained a CVT. Its sole power choice, a turbocharged 1.5-litre petrol, was available with 170bhp or 190bhp. A 2.0-litre hybrid powertrain was then added in 2019, making the CR-V a more enticing proposition for motorway stints, while regenerative braking boosted its urban efficiency. The petrol was discontinued shortly afterwards.
Comfort is a focal point for the CR-V, and thus its soft suspension glides over bumps and potholes. The flip side is that the car leans a lot through corners, although it still handles competently for its size.
The hybrid (which has a newer 2.0-litre engine) is quieter in town, especially when its EV motor kicks in, although this is short-lived due to a small, 1kWh battery.
There are five trim levels to choose from, starting from basic S and climbing to more premium EX.
With S trim, you get 17in alloy wheels, LED headlights and cruise control, plus a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. Prices start at around £20,000 for a low-mileage CR-V in this spec, like the 69-reg car that we found with 8500 miles on the clock.
If advanced infotainment is a necessity for you, move up to a higher specification because the S trim only gets a 5.0in screen. Next-rung SE offers a significant upgrade, gaining Honda’s latest Connect system as well as dual-zone climate control and two USB ports.
It’s possible to find an SE for a minimal premium over an S, such as a 2019 model with 9250 miles that we saw for £21,990.
EX brings yet more technology, including blindspot monitoring, a head-up display, wireless phone charging and a powered tailgate, yet it can be picked up for just a couple of grand more. A two-owner, 170bhp petrol, on a 19-plate with a mileage of less than 30,000, was up for £22,295.
The hybrid commands a slightly loftier starting price, at around £24,000 with a high mileage. We found a front-driven SE with 11,500 miles for £25,500 and an EX with 40,000 miles for £27,790.
This is a decent saving on its list price of £37,810. No matter which spec you pick, though, you will bag an ever-faithful and impressively equipped family hauler, with the potential to step into electrified motoring for a minimal premium.
Engine Oil dilution is a documented problem on early cars for which Honda has a fix.
Body Check the door handles are secure because they flex quite easily. Examine the underside for off-roading damage (the CRV is not an off-roader).
Interior Make sure the air con chills; lack of use can cause the refrigerant to evaporate. Another possible explanation is a compressor leak, which some owners have reported.
Need to know
The hybrid powertrain features only in models from 2019 onwards, so keep an eye out for adverts falsely selling petrol-only models as having electrified capabilities.
Annual road tax on the regular petrol model will cost you around £155, while the hybrid will be slightly cheaper, at £145.
The hybrid can achieve 39.5mpg, according to the official WLTP test, while the petrol scores 32.5mpg.
While the boot is big for a car of this type, at 561 litres, that of the similarly priced Skoda Kodiaq seven-seater is a huge 720 litres.
The CR-V scored a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, including a 93% adult occupant score.
2.0 i-MMD HYBRID 4WD SR AUTO: Positioned just below top-of-the-range EX specification, the SR gets our nod for adding a raft of welcome niceties without driving the price out of the realm of acceptability.
1.5 VTEC TURBO S 2WD: A relatively basic infotainment system and a powertrain some might consider outdated mark this out as the lesser-desired CR-V variant, but 2WD makes for improved economy and there’s less to fail.
Ones we found
2019 CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid SR e-CVT 2WD, 22,000 miles, £24,995
2018 CR-V 1.5 VTEC Turbo SE 2WD, 19,000 miles, £18,865
2019 CR-V 2.0 i-MMD Hybrid EX e-CVT 4WD, 40,000 miles, £27,790
2019 CR-V 1.5 VTEC Turbo EX 4WD CVT, 56,000 miles, £21,990