Honda CR-V (2012-2018) Review
The Honda CR-V is a big, dependable family SUV that’s just lacking a bit of excitement
Strengths & weaknesses
- Very safe
- Solidly built
- Extremely reliable
- Uninspiring handling
- Relatively expensive to run
- Poor ride on large wheels
Used Honda CR-V prices from £12,000 Finance from £214.90 per month
The Honda CR-V has been a firm favourite with family motorists in the UK ever since it first appeared in the mid-Nineties, and this fourth generation model makes a compelling used family SUV.
The CR-V’s competition includes the likes of the Renault Kadjar, Volkswagen Tiguan, Mitsubishi Outlander, Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-5, Hyundai Tucson, and Ford Kuga. For buyers also mulling over more premium offerings, there’s also German triumvirate of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes GLC, plus the Jaguar F-Pace and the Land Rover Discovery Sport.
In short, the CR-V doesn’t exactly lack competition in a car market where SUVs are where it's at for most buyers now. And that isn’t good news for Honda – because not only is the CR-V now feeling its age in a segment where there have been numerous new entrants in recent years, but it also struggles to stand out from so many accomplished cars.
Honda offers a choice of two or four-wheel drive with the CR-V, but don’t go thinking this is some sort of rugged Land Rover rival: it’s much more at home on the school run than the off-road run and the four-wheel drive is really only there to provide a little extra surefootedness on muddy grass or wet tarmac. Running costs are also greater for the 4WD versions, so front-wheel-drive diesel versions will be the choice for those with one eye on their wallet or purse. Those looking to make driving easier, might also want to check out Honda’s advanced nine-speed automatic gearbox, which works in conjunction with the 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine and doesn’t penalise unduly in terms of efficiency.
Practicality is a stand-out feature of the CR-V: in addition to a large boot and spacious front and back seats, it has a host of versatile features, such as a simple handle to collapse the rear seats into the boot floor, quickly freeing up even more luggage space when needed.
The other criteria vital to family-car buyers is safety, and the CR-V shines here, too, boasting a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating and a plethora of the latest active safety technology.
On the downside, however, the CR-V has an entertainment system that isn’t the most intuitive. And it looks a little cheap and dated too. Plus the two displays on the dashboard are also confusingly unnecessary.
The CR-V is isn’t a great deal of fun to drive either and it lacks the engagement of, say, the Ford Kuga or even the Kia Sportage or Hyundai Tucson. The steering feels heavy, which creates the impression that the car lacks even the amount of nimbleness that you'd expect of a car this big, while the ride is also less comfortable than previous CR-Vs, proving to be firm when confronted with potholes or speed humps.
In a tough segment, with a lot of good cars as rivals, the CR-V offers a decent all-round package, but nothing that really makes it stand out.
|Three years/90,000 miles
|Tax (min to max)
|£205-830 in the first year, £140 thereafter. Pre-April 2017 cars: £0-30 to £230-350
Best Honda CR-V for...
Best for Economy – Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC S 2WD
Unsurprisingly, the less powerful of the two 1.6-litre diesel engines with front-wheel-drive is the combination to go for if you want the most efficient Honda CR-V, with good fuel economy for a big SUV, at a claimed 64.2mpg.
Best for Families – Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC SE 2WD
This version of the CR-V is just as economical as the one above, but SE specification adds some useful features not found on the S, such as a leather steering wheel, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system and a rear air-conditioning vent – the latter should make kids more comfortable on a hot day.
Best for Performance – Honda CR-V 1.6 i-DTEC 160 SE
Surprisingly, the 2.0-litre petrol engine isn’t the quickest CR-V you can buy. That honour instead goes to the more powerful diesel engine with four-wheel drive, which takes a smart 9.6 seconds to do the 0-62mph sprint.
One to Avoid – Honda CR-V 2.0 i-VTEC EX
There’s not much to recommend the petrol CR-V in any trim level. Although it’s around £1,000 cheaper than the equivalent diesel, it has higher running costs and will lose more value when you go to sell or trade it in. And it’s not any faster than the diesel engines, either.
September 2012: Fourth-generation Honda CR-V goes on sale in UK
August 2013: 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine added to line-up
February 2014: Black and White limited-edition models introduced
February 2015: Facelift, including styling updates and lower CO2 emissions
January 2016: Black Edition trim level revived in facelift form
Late 2018: CR-V replaced with all-new model
Understanding Honda CR-V names
Engine 1.6 i-DTEC
The CR-V engine range is fairly simple, with one petrol (the 155PS 2.0-litre i-VTEC) and a diesel (the 1.6-litre i-DTEC, putting out either 120 or 160PS)
There are four permanent trim levels – or versions – called S, SE, SR and EX, with special edition models such as the Black Edition also available.
The CR-V is available with a six-speed manual, or five-speed (mated to the 2.0 petrol engine) or nine-speed (with 1.6-litre diesels) automatic transmissions.
Honda CR-V Engines
Diesel: 1.6 i-DTEC, 2.2 i-DTEC
Petrol: 2.0 i-VTEC
Honda offered a 2.2-litre diesel engine in the CR-V, but that was discontinued when the car was facelifted in early 2015.
Post 2015, there were only two diesel options. They were both versions of the same 1.6-litre engine, one with 118bhp and front-wheel drive and the other with 158bhp and four-wheel drive.
The former, which only comes with a manual gearbox, is more than adequate for everyday motoring, with the more powerful one only really worth considering if you do a lot of long-distance motorway driving or want to tow a trailer or caravan with your CR-V. The 158bhp version also offers the choice of six-speed manual or nine-speed automatic transmission.
There’s a 2.0-litre petrol CR-V, too, but it’s hard to make a convincing case for buying one. Here, you can choose from manual front-wheel-drive, manual four-wheel-drive or automatic four-wheel-drive forms, but whichever you get, running costs are significantly higher than for the diesel and performance isn’t appreciably better. Also, the automatic gearbox offered with the petrol is an older five-speed type, not the sophisticated nine-speed paired with the diesel.
0 - 62mph
62.8 - 64.2mpg
53.3 - 57.7mpg
9.6 - 10.4s
122 - 125mph
36.7 - 39.2mpg
10.0 - 12.3s
113 - 118mph
Honda CR-V Trims
S, SE, SR, EX, Black Edition
The basic Honda CR-V S packs in quite a lot of equipment for an entry-level car. You get 17-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, climate control, cruise control, automatic emergency braking and hill-start assistance. Just be aware that the S isn’t available with four-wheel drive or an automatic gearbox.
Moving up to SE gets you a leather steering wheel, foglights, alloy-effect dashboard trim, a seven-inch touchscreen with DAB digital radio and smartphone integration, six speakers rather than the four on the S) and a rear parking camera. You also get the full choice of engines, drive and gearboxes with this trim level.
SR also offers all the engine, drive and gearbox combinations, along with bigger 18-inch alloys, half-leather trim, ambient interior lighting and privacy glass. Sat nav (an option on the S and SE) is standard here.
EX is the regular top-of-the-range CR-V. It’s only available with four-wheel drive (although you can pick petrol or diesel, manual or automatic) and it boasts a full leather interior, a panoramic glass sunroof and a power-adjustable driver’s seat, plus keyless entry and start.
Honda also offered a Black Edition version of the CR-V before the car’s 2015 facelift. It has four-wheel-drive only and looks distinctive thanks to its running boards, tailgate spoiler, 19-inch black alloys, gloss-black front grille and gloss-black skid plates front and rear. Inside, there’s a full leather interior with contrasting stitching and an embossed Black Edition logo on the front and rear seats, while the door panels and armrests are also leather. The interior is finished off with premium mats, complete with the Black Edition logo.
Honda CR-V Reliability and warranty
The CR-V has a very good reputation for reliability and the 2018 Auto Express Driver Power survey named it as the 12th best car to own, while Honda was also placed 3rd in the list of best manufacturers.
These results augur well for owners who should take comfort in the fact that the three-year, 90,000-mile warranty – fairly standard, but not as good as the Tuscon’s five-year or the Sportage’s seven-year cover – is unlikely to be needed much.
Used Honda CR-V
The CR-V loses a fair chunk of value on the secondhand market compared to some rivals – but that’s music to the ears of anyone on the lookout for a used CR-V, which makes a great used buy: it’s a reliable and practical car, but it sheds value faster than some rivals, so you don’t have to pay over the odds for one.
If you can stretch to it, it’s definitely worth looking for one of the post-February 2015 CR-Vs, which have lower running costs than the preceding examples. Early revised cars are now available for around 50% less than their new list price and, as long as it has relatively low mileage, a CR-V like this is one of the best-value used family cars you can buy right now.
There are more diesels than petrols on the market, but they’ll also likely command a higher price and be snapped up quicker than the petrols. Look out also for high-spec cars that were significantly more expensive than the entry-level model when new – the relative gap between them narrows on the used market, so you could be able to pick up a very highly specified CR-V at a good price if you search around a bit.