‘MORE SENSE & SENSIBILITY’ - Honda CR-V Independent New Review (Ref:216/13983)


Car and Driving’s Independent New Review of the Honda CR-V.

By Jonathan Crouch Added 5th April, 2024

The sixth generation Honda CR-V makes plenty of sense for family customers in search of a quality mid-sized Hybrid SUV. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

In a sign of the times, it's now possible to plug your Honda CR-V in. That's because the sixth generation version of this model gains a Plug-in Hybrid powertrain to sell alongside the full-Hybrid e:HEV engine most will prefer. Either way, this car has been completely re-designed for a new era, but it's essential character hasn't changed too much.



Honda's CR-V has long been one of the world's strongest selling SUVs. Sometimes, in a market full of more extrovert rivals, we've wondered why. After all, this has never really been a contender that's jumped out at you from the spec sheet. No. You have to drive it. Use it. Fill it with family. Many of those experienced in doing just that probably won't even look at the alternatives before replacing their third, fourth or fifth generation CR-Vs with this MK6 model.

Like its predecessors, this crossover, according to its maker, offers a depth of engineering that many other rivals just don't have. It always has, ever since the original version of this 'Compact Recreational Vehicle' pretty much invented its segment back in 1995, with subsequent models in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2016 being pushed ever-more up-market. This MK6 CR-V took a bit of time to get to British shores, the car launched in the US in 2022. Unsurprisingly, the core e:HEV model is a full-Hybrid, but new for this sixth generation design is the option of Plug-in Hybrid power, allowing this Honda to better match its arch rival, Toyota's RAV4. Compared to the previous model, this redesigned CR-V is bigger, smarter and better connected too. Sounds promising.

Driving Experience

It's quite EV-like away from rest - in fact it'll be totally EV-like if you've chosen the top e:PHEV version (Honda's first Plug-in Hybrid) and the 17.7kWh battery's been charged for a claimed 50 miles of range. Which, unless you advise the drive system otherwise, will always be prioritised before the long stroke Atkinson cycle 2.0-litre engine cuts in. Obviously, it'll cut in a lot sooner if your choice of CR-V is the more affordable non-plug-in self charging Hybrid e:HEV model because that variant's drive battery is just 1.06kWh in size. As with the PHEV, there's a 2-motor hybrid system with a 2-speed auto transmission and an output of 181bhp. This time round, the e:HEV Hybrid only comes with 4WD - in contrast to the e:PHEV model, where the system only drives the front wheels. There are four main drive modes - 'Snow', 'Econ', 'Normal' and 'Sport', the latter adding what Honda hopes is a sporty buzz to proceedings. The PHEV version adds two further settings, 'EV' and 'Tow', the latter reflecting the fact that you'd need the Plug-in Hybrid version with its 1,500kg braked towing weight (double that of the e:HEV) if you were to need to pull anything along with this car.

There's a pleasingly 'big car' feel to progress with both models, aided by the frequently-selective dampers - and perhaps by this model line's ever-increasing weight, nearly 2.0-tonnes in the PHEV model. Honda uses words like 'exhilarating' and 'sports car' when it comes to the handling of this SUV and we're not quite sure why because, as ever with this model line, the handling of this CR-V has been engineered to reduce the heartbeat rather than raise it. It doesn't feel in the least bit sporty, nor should it. But there are dynamic positives too - and for a typical CR-V owner, they'll probably be more significant. As long as you control yourself with the throttle pedal, refinement is excellent and the various power sources blend in and out very unobtrusively. The mixture between friction and regenerative braking is expertly judged. Body roll's decently controlled through the bends. And the lower window line and thin pillars make the car easy to manoeuvre in urban conditions.

Design and Build

This sixth generation CR-V has what Honda calls 'a stronger more aggressive presence', it's looks apparently inspired by US market products like the Ridgeline pick-up truck and the Passport SUV. It certainly bigger in every dimension than its predecessor, 80mm longer and 10mm wider. Most of the usual visual differences are at the front, where there's a more complex honeycomb grille flanked by narrower LED headlights. More familiar is the profile with its CR-V signature tick in the lower window line around the C-pillar, plus there are the usual high-mounted taillights.

Inside up-front, the dashboard architecture is mostly borrowed from the current Civic hatch, which is great if you like clean, ergonomic design: but not so good if for the money being asked here, you were (understandably) hoping for something a bit more premium. Still, it's more than a match for the cabin of a rival RAV4 and there's standard leather upholstery and a clear 9-inch central infotainment screen. Through the 3-spoke wheel, you view a 10.2inch digital dial display and there's a wide centre console with the usual USB ports.

Arguably though, the more significant changes lie further back. This time round, Honda has stretched the wheelbase by 40mm, which has delivered 15mm more legroom at the back. The previous generation model was launched with a seven-seat third row option, but we won't see that this time. As for luggage space, the e:HEV Hybrid version offers a large 587-litre boot (90-litres more than before). Unusually, the Plug-in Hybrid variant offers even more trunk space (617-litres) because its battery is located under the rear seat, rather than under the floor.

Market and Model

Extra technology has to be accompanied by plumper pricing, which is why you can expect to have to assign a £46,000 budget for this CR-V in e:HEV self-charging Hybrid form - that's with base 'Elegance' trim: the plusher 'Advance' variant you're more likely to want costs closer to £49,000. You'll need more like £54,000 for the Plug-in Hybrid version (which only comes in top 'Advance'-spec). 'Advance' trim gets you standard kit like leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and, on the PHEV variant, self-parking tech.

All CR-Vs get a very high standard of safety kit, with the 'Honda Sensing' package offering one of the most comprehensive suite of active safety and driver assistive technologies in the class, combining radar and camera tech. Included are 'Forward Collision Warning', a 'Collision Mitigating Braking' system, a 'Lane Keep Assist' system, 'Lane Departure Warning', 'Road Departure Mitigation' and 'Traffic Sign Recognition'. The basic design is pretty safe too, thanks to Honda's 'ACE' 'Advanced Compatibility Engineering' body structure design technology, which employs a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly.

Cost of Ownership

Not all recent Honda e:HEV hybrids have impressed us with their efficiency. The brand's slightly smaller HR-V wasn't as frugal as we expected. But the latest Civic e:HEV was much better and we expect the regular efficiency figures of the CR-V e:HEV to be not far off that. Expect 42.8mpg on the combined cycle and a CO2 return of 150g/km. The Plug-in Hybrid version (which manages 353.1mpg and 18g/km) is rated at an EV range of 51 miles from its 17.7kWh battery when fully charged (which takes 2.5 hours at an 11kW charger). That range figure potentially drops the car into the 8% Benefit-in-Kind tax band, which would make the CR-V PHEV one of Honda's most appealing models for company user-choosers. The PHEV version charges in 2.5 hours at a 6.8kW charger.

What else? Well the three year, 90,000-mile warranty is better than the package you get from many competitors. In addition, surface corrosion is covered for three years, exhaust corrosion is covered for five years, chassis corrosion is covered for ten years and structural corrosion for twelve years. The brand makes it possible to budget ahead for scheduled maintenance with a fixed-price scheme called 'Five' that covers servicing for a total of five years. It also adds an extra two years of maintenance, an extended warranty for this period and roadside assistance breakdown cover should the unexpected happen. This can also be transferred to a new owner if you sell the car before the service plan has expired.


It's easy to imagine yourself as target market for a car like this sixth generation CR-V. You've a couple of kids, an active lifestyle and an aversion to rather dull large estate cars. The thing is though, you've also an aversion to the kind of mid-sized SUV soft roaders that such a mindset would normally direct you towards. Understandably perhaps, you think they're all rather pretentious and silly.

But this car isn't. In fact, whether you choose the e:HEV Hybrid version or the PHEV, it's as sensible as family segment lifestyle-orientated SUV motoring gets. A car for people who look at what a vehicle can do for them rather than what it says about them. End use you see, has been the over-riding design parameter here, not cutting-edge styling, clever gadgetry, irrelevant pin-sharp handling or pointlessly powerful engines. As a result, it's an extremely easy thing to live with, the kind of car you'll own, then wonder how you managed without. That may not be a recipe for media headlines but it's an approach that other brands could certainly learn from, explaining why so many CR-Vs are bought by folk who previously owned one.

These are people who'll probably stick with Honda into this sixth generation version. It builds upon everything this long-running model line stands for - progressive design, an ergonomically excellent cabin, practicality, comfort and class-leading levels of safety. The interior still doesn't quite have the premium feel you'd get from a posh brand. Despite the fact that Honda wants to price this model at premium levels. But ultimately, this car remains distinctively different, distinctively... CR-V. Which ultimately, might very well be all you need.

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Styling
  • Build
  • Value
  • Equipment
  • Economy
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Total (70/110)

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Terms and Conditions:

  1. Emissions and efficiency data taken from official test results, where available, when new. Data shown is intended to provide a standard figure for comparing the relative fuel economy of different vehicles of a similar age and condition, and does not represent the average fuel consumption that will be achieved on the road. Actual figures will depend on factors including the age of the vehicle, how it has been maintained, road and weather conditions and driving style.