Facelifted CR-V never feels anything short of refined and capable, but it lacks verve
Motor feels hamstrung by the five-speed automatic ’box
i-DTEC diesel is smoother and quieter than before too
2.2-litre common rail i-DTEC diesel engine has been breathed on to liberate fractionally more torque
Honda CR-V is far more agile than a car this size should be
Practicality is as strong a Honda CR-V selling point as ever
First DriveNew 1.6 diesel with nine-speed auto is a compelling mix, offering 158bhp and 258lb ft while emitting just 134g/km of CO2 in four-wheel-drive form
First DriveNew diesel CR-V gets sharpened dynamics and a more appealing drive
What is it?
This is Honda’s popular and versatile CR-V quasi-off-roader, facelifted for 2010.
But while aesthetic updates are kept to a minimum it’s under the bonnet that the most significant changes have been made. Most notable of these, and driven here, is the addition of an automatic gearbox option for diesel models.
What’s it like?
It’s a mixed bag. The 2.2-litre common rail i-DTEC diesel engine has been breathed on to liberate fractionally more torque and power, and also clean up its particulate emissions. It’s smoother and quieter too, although as much work has been done to soundproof the cabin as it has on the motor itself.
But while the engine modifications should translate into marginally more sprightly performance, the reality is disappointing as the motor feels somewhat hamstrung by the five-speed automatic ’box.
From a standstill the CR-V pulls away just about briskly enough, but at A-road speeds and above it only ever feels like there’s just enough power available, no more.
At lower speeds the upshifts are noticeable without quite being intrusive, while the kickdown can feel lethargic for higher speed overtakes.
It never feels anything short of refined and capable, but it lacks verve.
Economy suffers, too. We struggled to better 34mpg on the motorway, with figures dropping well into the 20s around town. CO2 emissions are a hefty 195g/km, compared to the manual variant’s 171g/km.
The Honda carries and hides its size and bulk remarkably well, and is more manoeuvrable, nimble and car-like than a 4x4 of this size really has a right to be. Body roll is minimal too, but there is a lot of tyre noise – not to mention wind noise over the screen and door mirrors – and the chassis transmits bumps and potholes into the cabin with a thump.
Negatives aside, the CR-V has a quality interior and the cabin is a pleasant place to be, while the rear seats two full-size adults in comfort and the split-level boot is large and versatile. In short, then, all good things that make it an enjoyable and practical everyday drive.
Should I buy one?
Not an automatic, no. Were it not for the strain that auto box puts on the motor, the CR-V scores far better as a capable, if expensive, large family motor with four-wheel drive security and a degree of off-road ability.
But if you want a CR-V then as it stands the manual version is better to drive and cheaper to run, and is by far the better option.