The question now, then, is how does the CR-V – and specifically its conventional, non-plug-in hybrid powertrain – fit into the broader SUV class? It’s a class that, historically speaking, has relied largely on good old fashioned diesel engines for the effortless torque, lower CO2 levels and superior long-distance economy that they so often provide, so does the CR-V have what it takes to overtake diesel as the go-to powertrain choice in this hotly contested segment?
To answer that, we’re rolling out a final contender. A final boss level, if you will, which seems rather fitting for a car that emerged from the same country that gave us Nintendo, PlayStation and Sega game consoles.
Conveniently (for the purposes of this metaphor anyway), the oil-burning Bowser that our Mario will face in this ultimate showdown also hails from Japan. The Mazda CX-5, represented here in range-topping £38,010, 182bhp, all-wheel-drive GT Sport Nav+ guise, is a car of which we’re already rather fond. Its eligibility for this test was determined by the fact that it placed very highly in our SUV mega-test we ran back in 2018. It might not have won, but runner-up to the Volvo XC40 – deemed to be just a bit too compact to give it a fair shot here – is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Mazda might be more of a match for the Honda in terms of its dimensions than the aforementioned Swede, but the CR-V’s boxier, more pragmatic shape sees it draw first blood on grounds of interior spaciousness. Compared with that of the handsome, sharply styled Mazda, the CR-V’s cabin is an altogether airier affair – albeit one that doesn’t look or feel quite as classy or neatly minimalist as that of the CX-5.
From the front seat, keener drivers may miss the more enveloped feeling that’s proffered by the more focused layout of the Mazda, and what feels like a lower seating position. But if a more commanding view of the road and an amplified sense of ‘big SUV’ spaciousness are what you’re after, the CR-V comes up trumps. This theme continues aft of the front row, with the Honda pipping the Mazda in terms of rear passenger space and boot capacity (497 litres versus 494).