Honda CR-V 1.5 VTEC Turbo SR AWD [7 Seat]
We rather like the Honda CR-V. It’s a sensible offering, with a quality cabin and impressive practicality: more so than ever with a 7-seat option. The 1.5 VTEC Turbo puts out a decent 193PS. Avoid the outdated CVT gearbox in favour of a 6-speed manual, to best enjoy that driver-focused Honda experience. Also steer clear of the expensive Aero Pack and upgraded alloy wheels, which do little to improve visual appeal.
There’s a new Honda CR-V on the block. It’s fresh-faced and ready to muscle its way into contention as a practical family SUV.
It’s been completely re-designed inside and out; rebuilt from the ground up. And, for the first time, there is now a 7-seat option for added practicality. We opted to test the 7-seat model, in SR trim.
The new body line is bold to say the least. This is the most muscular-looking it has ever been. The basic body shape is broad, with sharp lines to the lower edges of the car.
It is of note that our test car featured the £2,250 Aero Pack, and to be truthful we didn’t really care for it. Featuring Front Aero Bumper, Rear Aero Bumper, Running Boards and Tailgate Spoiler, it is aimed to give the CR-V a more dynamic look.
But it all looks a bit much. The spoiler looks aftermarket. The running boards are cumbersome and unnecessary. The front and rear bumpers aren’t so bad, but also don’t add enough visual appeal to justify the price.
It’s a similar story with the 19-inch, £2,490 optional alloy wheels. They still look too small in the arches – they are a 235/55 profile – so save your money and stick with the standard 18-inch wheels.
There are more flashes of chrome down the side and at the rear, and the twin tail pipes are a welcome addition. You can see how the Honda CR-V has space for 7 seats. It’s both long and tall; especially at the back.
Privacy glass is a nice touch, as is the shark-fin aerial. Our test car was finished in Modern Steel Metallic, which is one of the more sophisticated options. It would easily be our choice of colour.
The SR trim is the highest grade for the 7-seat model, sitting above the SE model. As such, it features a lot of luxury in its cabin, both in terms of materials and build quality. In the 5-seat model there is also the EX trim, but most of the additions over SR trim are technology-based.
It’s not a stretch to say that the Honda CR-V is not aimed at 20-somethings. And perhaps the wood grain finishing trim further proves it. It wouldn’t be our first choice, but it actually grew on us over the week.
You see there are absolutely no issues of quality in the Honda CR-V cabin. All the plastics are soft-touch and pleasing on the eye. There’s a lovely soft leather throughout the cabin, including the steering wheel, centre armrest and even the dashboard.
This is complemented by gloss black trim, and the odd flash of silver plastic. All in all it’s a well-varied set of materials that stops the cabin feeling monotonous or gloomy
The multimedia screen is somewhere between being incorporated into the dashboard, and sitting on top of it. The result is a rather effective raised effect, without simply looking ‘perched’ as is the current trend.
The instrument cluster is digital. It’s no Audi Virtual Cockpit, make no mistake about that. But it has a wide array of information screens which can be chosen to sit below the rev counter and digital speedometer.
The leather seats are surprisingly supportive, with plenty of side bolstering for you to settle into. And as you spend more time in the car, you really grow to appreciate the craftsmanship that’s gone into it. There are no trim rattles, or flimsy-feeling switchgear.
There is, currently, a choice of one engine in the Honda CR-V. The car has been designed around the 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo petrol engine. This turns into 3 choices: 2WD manual, AWD manual and AWD CVT. Our test car had the latter.
The engine itself is pretty good. Churning out a respectable 193PS and 243Nm of torque, it’s more than enough to haul the Honda CR-V around. Not exactly at break-neck speed, mind you: 0-62mph takes 10.0 seconds and the top speed is 124mph.
The manual model is ever-so-slightly quicker – 0-62mph in 9.8 and a top speed of 129mph – but realistically it’s still not going to set your pants alight.
Despite these figures, the CR-V never feels underpowered. Being turbocharged, there’s enough acceleration in the mid-range. It’s best to avoid the higher realms of the rev range, as the VTEC Turbo is a little harsh-sounding as you get near the red line.
That may be over-emphasised by the CVT gearbox. I make no secret of the fact that I utterly detest them. In a world of super-slick DSG gearboxes, the CVT feels like a lazy relic. And it does its very best to try and ruin the Honda CR-V.
No, seriously. Automatics are supposed to be easy and relaxing to drive. A CVT is noisy, revvy and vague. It has a ‘manual’ mode with 7 preset ‘ratios’, but it never feels anywhere near slick.
Do yourself a favour and get the manual. Being a Honda, it will be a slick gearbox, and much nicer to drive.
The all-wheel drive system in our Honda CR-V test car was more than capable of handling the 193PS from that VTEC Turbo. It gives an abundance of grip in just about any conditions.
So whilst the Honda CR-V may be lacking in power, it makes up for that in being able to get it all down, whatever the weather.
Another thing to be said about Honda; they know how to make a driver-focussed car. The driving position is spot on. The steering, although lacking in feel, is perfectly weighted and wonderfully direct.
It’s only the size – more specifically, the height – of the Honda CR-V which spoils the handling. It leans quite a lot in the corners. It’s not surprising given the vehicle’s stature, and even the high-profile tyres.
On the flip side, those tyres help to make the CR-V comfortable. It soaks up potholes and other lumps and bumps well. On the motorway it’s trouble-free, and with a well-insulated cabin is quiet too. Well, except when the CVT decides to ask the engine to rev its head off…
And, when all is said and done, this is not the type of car you’d take to Oulton Park. It’s better suited to the local park. And it will get the kids, their toys and the family dog there in comfort. That’s what the Honda CR-V is all about.
With only a petrol engine on offer, high-mileage drivers may be a little concerned at how feasible the Honda CR-V would be to own. Understandably so.
The combined fuel consumption figure of 31.7mpg doesn’t fill you with excitement. But this is the WLTP figure, meaning that the reality is very close to these figures.
Still, fuel economy in the low-30s is nothing to write home about. The AWD system doesn’t help matters, although it is clever enough to send most of the power to the front wheels under normal driving.
CVT gearboxes aren’t the most efficient, either. And, rather perplexingly, there’s no start/stop technology on this car. Sitting in traffic you can’t help but feel like you could be saving a little bit of fuel.
CO2 emissions are 162g/km NEDC equivalent. That equates to a first year VED of £530, and subsequent rate of £145. Ordinarily that is.
You see with the aforementioned Aero Pack and 19-inch alloy wheels our test car costs in excess of £40,000. And that means the VED surcharge applies in years 2 to 6. This currently stands at £320, making the VED £465 a year.
The high CO2 emissions may also put company car drivers off. There may not be the 3% diesel surcharge, but the high list price still equates to a pretty hefty benefit-in-kind.
The previous Honda CR-V was an enjoyable car to live with. Quite possibly the only thing missing from its repertoire was the ability to cater for those with four children. Or those that often look after all the grandchildren for the weekend.
Now though, the Honda CR-V is available with seven seats. Storing flat to the boot floor, the rearmost seats can be folded up and down in an instant.
These seats are best saved for children. That’s not to say that an adult couldn’t fit, technically speaking at least. But space for the third row is in limited supply, so an adult wouldn’t describe it as comfortable.
In the front, or on the middle row however, things are much different. There is an abundance of head and leg room. The middle row also slides backwards and forwards, allowing you to sacrifice a bit of leg room in the middle for the kids on the third row.
Flexibility runs throughout the DNA of the Honda CR-V. Adjustable back rests, plenty of storage, it’s the makings of a great family car.
The boot space is a very respectable 472 litres with the rearmost seats folded away. Even if you are carrying a full capacity of people, there’s a modest 150 litres for a few shopping bags, or a picnic.
There are no complaints from the driving seat either. Well-positioned controls, comfortable driving position and great visibility. This is the kind of car you never fully appreciate until you spend some time with it. But it’s one that you’ll be happy to live with.
With a relatively high price – more on that in a moment – comes relatively high expectations. Thankfully, the Honda CR-V delivers an impressive specification to help justify the price.
Reassuringly, for a family car, there is plenty of safety equipment as standard. Forward Collision Warning with Collision Mitigation Braking System is at the forefront. Also present is Lane Keep Assist System, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation and Traffic Sign Recognition.
Other notable features include Adaptive Cruise Control, auto lights, and an alarm/immobiliser system. That’s just the standard ‘S’ model.
Next comes the SE model, adding dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, Honda Connect with Garmin navigation, rain-sensing auto wipers and auto-dim rear-view mirror.
Our test car was in ‘SR’ guise. With privacy glass, roof rails, and LED front fog lights, it’s a stylish offering. In terms of creature comforts you get a leather upholstery, front heated seats and keyless entry/start.
Adding to the already-comprehensive safety offering, the SR model features blind-spot information with cross-traffic monitoring, and active cornering lights.
There’s not much to mention in terms of optional equipment. Barring a few accessories inside and out, the equipment you get is dictated by the model you opt for.
It’s similar to the approach we see from the Korean brands, and it makes the job of a car reviewer a whole lot easier: what you see is what you get. There are no complex and expensive options list to contend with.
Value For Money
In a popular family SUV market, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. The Honda CR-V places itself well; offering plenty of practicality, generous specification and a 7-seat option.
Price wise however, it’s far from the cheapest. A basic 2WD ‘S’ model costs £26,310. The AWD, 7-seat SR we tested is at the upper end of the scale at £35,770.
Premium paint adds £550. The Aero Pack costs £2,250. Those 19-inch wheels are £2,490. That pushed the price of our test car to an eye-watering £41,060.
It’s one thing that the 19-inch wheels still look too small, and the Aero Pack does as much to spoil the sleek exterior lines as it does to improve them. But by pushing the price beyond £40,000 there will be a VED surcharge. Years 2-6 will incur an additional £320 per year, or £1,600 in total.
As a result, it’s impossible to recommend these option packs. You really don’t need them, and it will be much better on your wallet to not opt for them. You see at a shade under £36,000 for a well-equipped, practical 7-seat SUV is not altogether unreasonable.
Want another tip to save some money? Ditch the SVT gearbox in favour of a manual. You’ll find the Honda CR-V more enjoyable and engaging to drive and more pleasant to live with. Oh, and you’ll save yourself £2,000 in the process.
At this point you’re down to £33,770 plus £550 for metallic paint. That’s more like it!
Facts and Figures
|Engine||1.5-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||193PS at 5,600rpm|
|Max torque||243Nm at 2,000-5,000rpm|
|Drivetrain||‘7-speed’ CVT transmission, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||57 litres|
|Fuel consumption||31.7 mpg combined, WLTP|
|CO2 emissions||162 g/km NEDC equivalent|
|Kerb weight||1,598 kg|
|Towing capacity||1,500kg braked / 600kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||472 litres (5-seat) / 150 litres (7-seat)|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£41,060|