‘PLUG POINT’ - Honda CR-V e:PHEV Independent New Review (Ref:216/14064)


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

By Jonathan Crouch Added 1st December, 2023

Honda's CR-V gets a PHEV option. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

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. It offers impressive efficiency figures - if you can stretch to the asking price. Still want your upper mid-sized family crossover as an EV?



Unsurprisingly, the core version of this sixth generation CR-V is an e:HEV full-Hybrid, but new for this improved design is the option of the Plug-in Hybrid powertrain we look at here. This allows this Honda to better match its arch rival, Toyota, though this top CR-V's been priced to match comparable versions of that conglomerate's posh Lexus NX rather than its more usual sparring partner, the Toyota RAV4.

Both those rival models though offer considerably more power than a CR-V e:PHEV; and cost less. Can the intelligent design of this MK6 CR-V compensate? And would you want to pay the premium-style prices Honda wants to ask for this car if it did? Read on to find out.

Driving Experience

It's quite EV-like away from rest, especially if the 17.7kWh battery's been charged for its 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. As with the e:HEV Hybrid model, there's a 2-motor hybrid system with a 2-speed auto transmission and an output of 181bhp. But unlike the e:HEV version, the system only drives the front wheels. As with all CR-Vs, there are four main drive modes - 'Snow', 'Econ', 'Normal' and 'Sport', the latter adding what Honda hopes is a sporty buzz to proceedings. This PHEV variant adds two further drive mode 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, aided by the frequently-selective dampers - and perhaps by this model line's ever-increasing weight, nearly 2.0-tonnes in this 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

Apart from different badging and the extra charging flap over the passenger-side front wheel arch, there are no visual differences over the e:HEV model. 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 styling changes with this generation model 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 10.2-inch 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 rear seat reclines (quite a way back through no fewer than eight different settings) and its base slides back and forward by 190mm. The standard powered tailgate rises to reveal a 617-litre trunk space capacity in this e:PHEV version. You'd normally expect that to be less than the comparable self-charging Hybrid model but in this case the CR-V e:HEV model's boot capacity is actually less - 587-litres, though that's still 90-litres more than the previous generation model. This is because with the e:HEV, the battery's beneath the floor, rather than (as is the case with this e:PHEV) beneath the rear seat.

Market and Model

You'll need around £54,000 for this e:PHEV Plug-in Hybrid version (which only comes in a single 'Advance Tech' level of spec). That's around £5,000 more than an equivalently-specified e:HEV Hybrid model. The PHEV asking price is around £7,000 more than a top-spec Toyota RAV4 Plug-in, but comparable to that of a PHEV Audi Q5 - and well below what you'd have to find for PHEV versions of the X3 and the GLC. In summary, when it comes to the overall value proposition here, perhaps that's the easiest way to look at it; this CR-V has moved from 'Toyota' to 'Lexus' in its positioning. If you'd like one, you'll have to decide just how comfortable you are with that.

This e:PHEV model's 'Advance Tech' trim level, as the name suggests, is based on 'Advance' trim, but further adds Adaptive Performance Dampers, extra 'EV' and 'Tow' driving modes and a 'Berlina' black painted finish for the 18-inch wheels. Plus there are front ventilated seats. And Honda doesn't make you pay extra for a 3-pin Mode 2 charging cable to go alongside the usual Mode 3 fast-charging lead.

This sixth generation CR-V is the brand's first European vehicle to feature the company's most advanced suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Technologies - the 'Honda SENSING 360' package. This includes a 100-degree forward facing camera, millimetre-wave radar, and four corner radars to offer a complete 360-degree view around the vehicle.

Cost of Ownership

This e:PHEV model's 353.1mpg combined cycle fuel reading doesn't mean much in the real world of course. That's based on fully using the 50 mile range supposed to be possible from the 17.7kWh battery when fully charged; think more like 40 miles in the real world. It's possibly more relevant to note that even when driven using only combustion power with the provided 'Save' mode activated (which allows you to save battery charge for later in your trip), Honda says this car will return a combined figure of 45.6mpg, which really isn't bad at all. Nor is the quoted 18g/km CO2 reading, which sticks the car comfortably in the 8% Benefit-in-Kind taxation bracket that many likely business customers will be targeting. In comparison, a Lexus NX 450h+ plug-in manages 313.8mpg, 21g/km of CO2 and 47 miles of EV range. With a BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in, it's just 141.2mpg, 43g/km and 34 miles of EV range. Honda shouldn't congratulate itself too much though: a Mercedes GLC 300e Plug-in manages far superior returns of 565mpg, 12g/km of CO2 and up to 80 miles on EV range.

A word on charging this e:PHEV model, which takes 2.5 hours at an 6.8kW charger because the Plug-in Hybrid system can replenish its battery at a maximum charging rate of 6.8kW. That's an hour faster than a Kia Sorento PHEV can manage (because that car can only charge at up to 3.3kW); but it's quite a lot slower than a Land Rover Discovery Sport PHEV manages (because that car can accept up to 32kW). On this Honda, the centre screen has a selectable PHEV menu that allows you to set charging settings and pre-journey climate settings. Plus this screen has a wifi-enabled option to search for nearby public charging stations. Servicing is once a year or every 12,500 miles, whichever comes first, insurance is 37E and you'll get 53% of original value back after three years of ownership.


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 - if they can afford to. The price increase here over the previous model really is significant, especially with this e:PHEV version, indicative of the fact that Honda these days isn't particularly worried about selling fewer cars as long as each one they do sell is more profitable. But that approach has given this MK6 model a premium-style price tag its cabin quality and power output doesn't feel particularly suited to. You'll have to decide whether you can live with that.

If you can though, there's lots to like here. Loads of space, a flexible seating format, an ergonomically excellent cabin, big car-style refinement, class-leading levels of safety and, on this e:PHEV, excellent efficiency figures too. As usual with a CR-V, it's designed for a trip to the local Amazon locker, rather than the Amazon. And for that, it's as fit for purpose as it's ever been.

  • Performance
  • Handling
  • Comfort
  • Space
  • Styling
  • Build
  • Value
  • Equipment
  • Economy
  • Depreciation
  • Insurance
  • Total (73/110)

Time to review the car for yourself

Book A Test Drive

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.