Honda CR-V Hybrid (2019-present)

This hybrid could be the perfect diesel replacement, with similar performance, fuel economy, and convenience, but with lower emissions

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Fuel economy is good, CO2 levels are low
Quiet, comfortable and well put together
No need to plug this hybrid in

Weaknesses 

Slightly less space than non-hybrid variants
Automatic gearbox is noisy
Entertainment system feels basic

Honda is a company that designs and manufactures everything from ride-on lawnmowers to cutting-edge private jets, and the theme that runs through all of its products is the pursuit of engineering perfection.

So it comes as no surprise that the Japanese marque has concocted one of the most advanced and complicated mild hybrid systems currently on sale in order to support its decision to jettison the diesel engine in the coming years.

Dubbed Intelligent Multi Mode Drive (i-MMD), the system combines two electric motors, a tiny battery pack and a fairly typical 2.0-litre iVTEC petrol engine to propel the company's flagship SUV.

With no option to plug this vehicle in (yet), it requires the user to do very little in order to make the most out of its very clever powertrain.

But if you really must know how the grubby bits work, the system uses the internal combustion engine to either generate power for the electric motor or top up the relatively tiny 1kWh battery pack, which in turn can silently power the CR-V Hybrid for around a mile.

Occupants will likely fail to notice this constant transfer between the various propulsion systems, as it makes the switch without noise or interference with the power delivery.

But Honda's engineers claim this approach keeps the combustion engine in a constant fuel efficiency sweet spot, with the electrical system ensuring the engine is never overworked and the engine lazily topping up the small battery without impacting range.

The result is a claimed fuel economy figure of 51.4mpg in all-wheel-drive (engine power being sent to all four wheels) variants and 53.3mpg in the front-wheel-drive models, with performance figures that are similar to existing petrol and diesel models.

And while you probably won’t quite get those figures, we managed an impressive 48mpg during our test run in the front-wheel-drive version with very little care or attention paid to economical driving.

When you consider the outgoing 1.6-litre diesel engine managed around 57mpg in all-wheel-drive variants (which was more like 50mpg in the real world), that figure doesn't seem so bad.

Better still, the addition of the electric system means the new Honda CR-V Hybrid cruises silently at low speed, making the driving experience more comfortable around town or when stuck in traffic.

The addition of battery packs means that boot space is down from 561 litres to 497 litres, but that is still larger than the Nissan Qashqai and Kia Sportage.

Inside, Honda's typical build quality and finish is present, with plenty of room for five large occupants. The revised architecture means the floor is almost flat, which allows for improved head and knee room all round.

The ride quality is excellent, with the big CR-V doing a great job of soaking up road imperfections, while the handling is relatively sharp for such a large machine.

Unfortunately, this hybrid variant is no good as a towing vehicle, as it can only manage up to 750kg compared with the 2,000kg of a petrol-powered counterpart, while it isn't currently possible to option a third row of seats in the rear.

And despite Honda's best efforts to bring its touch screen entertainment system up to date with the introduction of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it still looks and feels dated, while the sat nav system is basic and clunky.

Last Updated 

Friday, November 30, 2018 - 11:15

Key facts 

Warranty : 
3 years/ 90,000 miles
Boot size: 
497-litres/ 1,694 litres (or 1,638 litres if glass roof is fitted)
Width: 
2,117mm
Length: 
4,600mm
Height: 
1,679mm to 1689mm
Tax: 
£155 in the first year, £130 thereafter

Best Honda CR-V for... 

Honda CR-V 2.0L Hybrid 2WD S
The most 'basic' trim level is the cheapest to buy outright and offers the best fuel economy figures.
Honda CR-V 2.0L Hybrid 4WD EX
Only the four-wheel-drive version is offered in the range topping EX trim level, which includes a heated steering wheel, head up display, hands free access power tailgate, heated rear seats and panoramic glass sunroof.

Understanding Honda CR-V car names 

  • CR-V
  • Engine
    2.0-litre Hybrid
  • Trim
    SR
  • Gearbox
    eCVT
  • Engine
    This hybrid offering only comes with one engine variant, which is a 2.0-litre petrol unit mated to electric motors and a battery pack.
  • Trim
    There are four trim levels on offer, S, SE, SR and EX, while the most basic S models are only available in 2WD and the most expensive EX models are only offered in a 4WD version.
  • Gearbox
    The Honda’s system is more compact version of a planetary eCVT (continuously variable transmission) found in other hybrid vehicles and essentially acts like a single speed transmission.

Honda CR-V Engines 

2.0L Hybrid

As previously mentioned, Honda's latest hybrid system has been designed to offer similar performance figures and fuel economy as its outgoing 1.6-litre diesel unit.

By using the 2.0-litre iVTEC engine as a generator to either top up the batteries, power the electric motor or directly drive the front wheels, it keeps the load on the engine low and therefore the emissions and amount of fuel used to a minimum.

Drivers won't notice the engine performing its trickery, as performance is strong, with only the occasional droning noise of the automatic gearbox impeding on the relative quiet and hush of the cabin.

Owners can also choose to select an EV (Electric Vehicle) drive mode, which calls upon the small battery pack to power the electric motor and allows for around 1.2-miles of silent, all-electric motoring.

We found that figure was easily achievable around town but only really useful if the school run or trip to the shops is incredibly short.

Instead, it's best to let the system decide for itself, as it will often use the electric power to creep in crawling traffic, with excess power from the petrol engine is diverted to recharge the battery via the generator motor.

Honda claims that the petrol engine is most efficient when up to cruising speed, where it can be supplemented by an on-demand power ‘boost’ from the electric propulsion motor for overtaking.

Like we mentioned before, the towing capacity is nowhere near as good as a petrol or diesel counterpart, so those with caravans or heavy loads will likely have to look elsewhere.

Fuel

Mpg

Bhp

0 - 62mph

Top speed

2.0L Hybrid FWD

Petrol

53.3mpg

181bhp

8.8s

112mph

2.0L Hybrid AWD

Petrol

51.4mpg

181bhp

9.2s

112mph

Honda CR-V Trims 

S, SE, SR and EX

With prices starting at £29,105, the CR-V Hybrid represents the pinnacle of the Honda range (bar the bonkers NS-X and Type-R sports cars), so it is understandable that they come fairly well equipped from the base car upwards.

Honda's SENSING suite of safety features is standard across the range and includes collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and traffic sign recognition.

There's also hill hold assist, LED lights at the front and rear, a fabric interior, a wood effect trim for the dash and 18-inch alloy wheels, but customers have to step up to SE to receive the touch screen entertainment system.

This system, called Honda Connect, has Garmin navigation, and smartphone compatibility comes as standard if you plump for SE, as do parking sensors and a rear view camera.

Opt for the SR and EX grades and you will be treated to blind spot warning and cross traffic monitoring, while low speed following on the cruise control is available across all grades.

SR grade also adds smart entry and start, leather interior and active cornering lights.

EX further includes a heated steering wheel, head up display, hands free access power tailgate, heated front and rear seats and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Seeing as it sits at the very top of the range, the EX badge also introduces a leather interior throughout, ambient lighting and an improved sound system.

Honda CR-V Reliability and warranty 

Honda has long enjoyed a reputation for excellent reliability and both the outgoing CR-V and the Civic featured in the top 20 best cars to own in the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.

In fact, Honda came in an impressive fourth place of the most reliable car manufacturers in this year's survey, only beaten by Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Lexus, all seen as more premium brands.

Granted, the hybrid technology might be new to CR-V but it has been perfecting the technology since the Honda Insight, which was released back in 1999.

On top of this, the latest i-MMD system has already been fitted to the Accord saloon in the USA with no known complaints or recalls.

 

Used Honda CR-V 

The Hybrid version doesn't go on sale until February 2019, so there physically isn't a used market yet, but the old 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel now offers some huge savings on the used market.

There are currently 198 1.6-litre diesel Honda CR-Vs available on BuyaCar, with prices ranging from £10,980 to £31,990 for nearly-new models.

So long as the vehicle has a strong service history and has been well looked-after, high-mileage models shouldn't be a deterrent, seeing as Honda reliability is bordering on the legendary.

     

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