Facelifted CR-V is refined and capable - but auto gearbox disappoints

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.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Jon Hardcastle 10 February 2010

Re: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC EX automatic

I had an 09 CR-V diesel manual and it was a good car. Only stayed in the job 4 months and went back to where I was before.

For overall space, comfort, kitcount ect. it was very good. For time I needed/would have needed to mount the kerb I could not justify going for the smaller less well equipped and more unreliable FL2, although I do like the look of them.

The CR-V is only 4 wheel drive when it needs to be for 99% of the time it's 2 wheel drive.

london 10 February 2010

Re: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC EX automatic

I am about to buy a new CRV EX manual - petrol

Lee23404 25 January 2010

Re: Honda CR-V 2.2 i-DTEC EX automatic

bomb wrote:
We did seriously look at an FL2, we like them, but couldn't justify the 'premium'.

You are absolutely correct, in spite of what i said earlier. I love the freelander but they cost an absolute fortune to lease. I wanted to lease one previously but could have had an XC90 or Toureg for less.