Honda CR-V: Reliably efficient

Honda's CR-V has always stood for Comfy, Reliable and Value - today it also stands for hybrid efficiency

Honda CR-V

FAMILY cars don't come more ubiquitous or capable than the Honda CR-V, writes William Scholes.

The pioneering SUV might have spawned a legion of imitators and rivals, but Honda has maintained a laser-like focus on perfecting the attributes that have kept customers loyal over the years.

The CR-V has just undergone one of those periodic overhauls, and heads into 2021 with a suite of revisions aimed at enhancing its efficiency and comfort.

When this generation of CR-V was launched in 2018 you could choose one with a petrol engine and seven-seats.

Both those options have fallen by the wayside. Today's CR-V is exclusively available as a hybrid, blending a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery in a fiendishly complex 'self-charging' set-up.

Honda CR-V

The hybrid gubbins means the third row of seats can't fit, though you can still choose to have a CR-V with four-wheel-drive if the standard front-wheel-drive isn't sufficient for your needs.

Honda calls the hybrid technology used in the CR-V 'i-MMD'. It's a particularly refined set-up, seamlessly switching between electric and engine power, or a blend of the two.

It uses two electric motors and the petrol engine runs on the efficient Atkinson cycle. An innovative fixed-gear transmission is also involved; there is a lot going on, but the intelligence of the car's engineering means you are never really aware of how it is juggling its different power sources as it maximises efficiency.

On the WLTP combined cycle, it produces CO2 emissions of 151g/km and fuel economy of 42.2mpg on front-wheel drive models, and 161g/km and 39.2mpg for all-wheel drive models.

Honda CR-V

The facelifted model gets new 'e:HEV' branding and blue-ringed 'H' badges to align it with the rest of Honda's electrified and hybridised range.

Other revisions include a new silver finish applied to the centre console, door cards and dashboard accents. Other updates include a new 18-inch alloy wheel design for all grades.

SE models and upwards now get privacy glass and the plush range-topping EX model gains wireless smartphone charging.

There wasn't a lot wrong with the CR-V's chassis but Honda is nothing if not thorough, so the engineers have gently retuned the suspension for "more linear handling responses and to provide increased low longitudinal rigidity for optimised ride compliance".

Honda CR-V

While they were at it, they also tweaked the dual-pinion variable-ratio electric power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering to improve both its refinement and the car's low-speed manoeuvrability.

The CR-V has a notably strong body structure. Honda says this is a result of its 'Advanced Compatibility Engineering' design technology, which works to distribute energy around the car's structure more evenly in the event of a crash.

A raft of radar- and camera-based safety gadgetry is also on board.

Honda CR-V

Rebecca Stead, Head of Automobile at Honda UK, said the CR-V was "an iconic part of Honda's range and history".

"It is only fitting that the revised 2021 model is ready to take on a changing and challenging market place, equipped with the latest technologies and equipment to make consumer's lives that little bit easier," she said.

The updated CR-V is priced from £30,180.

Range highlights include an eye-catching Sport Line model, finished in stealthy 'crystal black pearl' paintwork and with black 18-inch alloy wheels.

The black theme continues inside - black leather upholstery complete with 'black edition' stitching, black door panels and even piano black door handles.

Also standard on the Sport Line are LED lamps, front and rear, and a Garmin sat-nav system.

It's priced from £35,200 and comes only with front-wheel-drive.

Honda CR-V

CR-V is an SUV pioneer

WITH its rich tradition as one of the motor industry's great innovators, it is perhaps no surprise that Honda spotted the potential of the family SUV well ahead of the competition and decades before the sector's current all-conquering boom, writes William Scholes.

The original CR-V debuted in 1995, ahead even of other early and influential SUVs like 1997's Subaru Forester, with a blend of attributes that became something of a template for this style of vehicle: practical, roomy estate bodywork; the same easy to drive and economical to run attributes as a family hatchback; and a raised ride height and driving position.

What was out-of-the-ordinary more than two decades ago has gone on to become par-for-the-course today.

Everyone has an SUV in their line up now, and the sector now accounts for more than 40 per cent of the new car market in Europe.

The formula for the CR-V - it stands for 'Comfortable Runabout Vehicle', if you must know - was an immediate hit in the United States.

Honda CR-V

Perfect for soccer moms, trips to Home Depot, family vacations and weekend biking and hiking excursions, the CR-V routinely topped the sales charts for its size class.

The importance of the American market helps to explain why the CR-V of today is physically larger than the original - people with bigger bodies need, well, a bigger body to haul them around.

It also explains why, when it comes to the European market, the CR-V is among the largest family SUVs of the lot, at least before you head into the territory of seven-seat leviathans like the Land Rover Discovery.

Honda CR-V

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