Review: Honda CR-V ePHEV

From £53,995

Now in its sixth generation, the Honda CR-V has come a long way since this pioneering SUV was first launched in 1995 as a ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle’. The latest version also reflects the current direction of travel in the automotive world – there are no conventional petrol or diesel engine options. Instead, it’s a choice between a full hybrid (badged e:HEV) or plug-in hybrid (ePHEV).

The CR-V has some stiff opposition, including the Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Hyundai Tucson, Suzuki Across, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Lexus NX.

We tested the Honda CR-V over a week on a variety of A and B roads, plus motorways, in the South West.

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Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Exterior    

The latest CR-V is wider, longer and taller than the outgoing model. It may just be us, but we were never great fans of the design of previous generation CR-Vs, so the new model is a bit of a revelation.

With chiselled lines and a relatively straightforward SUV shape, the new CR-V is better proportioned and has a sporty stance.

Up front, the grille features a big new piano black mesh pattern. Add the sleek profile, a few rugged touches, a new vertical rear light cluster, plus a spoiler up top, and you have a car with plenty of kerbside appeal.

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Honda CR-V e:PHEV customers can choose from six exterior colours, including new rich Diamond Dust Pearl, Canyon River Blue Metallic and Gold Titan Metallic colours, while Premium Crystal Red Metallic, Platinum White Pearl and Crystal Black finishes are all carried over from the outgoing model.

Smart 18-inch alloy wheels in a gloss Berlina Black finish are standard across the range.

However, the plug-in hybrid CR-V is more expensive than the full hybrid. And whereas the latter is available in Elegance, Advance and Advance Tech trims, you can currently only order the ePHEV in the top grade.

2023 Honda CR-V interior

Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Interior

The 2024 Honda CR-V has a 40mm longer wheelbase helping to create more interior space, including 16mm more rear legroom and an increase in luggage capacity. As soon as you step into the cabin, it immediately feels roomy and light, while the driving position provides a suitably commanding view of the road.

It’s comfortable, too, with standard eight-way electrically adjustable leather seats, plus a useful memory function, so you’ll never lose your ideal position.

The CR-V gets the same clear and responsive 9.0-inch central infotainment touchscreen as the latest Civic, which sits alongside a 10.2-inch digital driver’s display on the dashboard. Physical buttons and dials for items such as climate control are welcome, too.

There’s also a handy head-up display, multi-view camera system, Honda Parking Pilot, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, front cooling seats, premium Bose sound system and My Honda+ app connectivity.

The CR-V is also the first European model to get Honda’s latest safety and driver assist system which removes blind spots around the vehicle. The rear seats slide and recline, and have very generous legroom, though taller adults may not be so impressed with the headroom. And note – there is no seven-seat option.

Meanwhile, the e:PHEV’s battery is located under the cabin floor instead of between the rear wheels, resulting in a generous boot capacity of 617 litres, expanding to a van-like 1,710 litres if you flip down the 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

It’s well put together and has taken a step up in terms of quality but there are a few too many plastics and hard surfaces for it to be classed as premium.

Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Performance and economy

The plug-in hybrid CR-V features a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine paired with a 17.7kWh battery and single electric motor, producing 181bhp.

It can travel in pure electric mode for up to 50 miles on a single charge. However, unlike the full hybrid, the e:PHEV is only available with front-wheel drive.

The 0-62mph sprint in the CR-V e:PHEV takes 9.4 seconds, while the top speed is 121mph. In theory, it’s capable of 353mpg but will go down to a claimed 45.6mpg when the battery charge has been used up and it’s functioning as a full hybrid.

2023 Honda CR-V rear

CO2 emissions are as low as 18g/km and company car drivers will pay only 8% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.

Usefully, the e:PHEV has a towing drive mode, meaning it’s capable of pulling a decent 1.5 tonnes.

As with any plug-in hybrid, it’s most efficient when the battery is kept charged up. On shorter trips with plenty of charge, impressive fuel economy is possible (especially if you stay in EV mode), but on longer journeys, it can dip below 40mpg.

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That said, the 50-mile EV range is longer than most rivals, and driven sensibly diesel-equivalent economy overall is quite possible. The switch from electric to engine power (and vice versa) is seamless, and it’s particularly satisfying to see the EV light illuminate on the dashboard so often – sometimes when just cruising along.

With a maximum charging rate of 6.8kW, plugging the CR-V into a 7kW home charger will get you from 0-100% in around 2.5 hours.

There’s a choice of five drive modes: Sport, Normal, Econ, Snow and Tow. Frankly, it’s just fine in Normal mode, but worth flicking into Econ when cruising or on motorways. We didn’t get the opportunity to try it in snow or tow mode, nor did we take it off-road. That said, it’s not being billed as an all-terrain vehicle.

If you’re heavy with your right foot it’s all too easy to spin the front wheels in wet or slippery conditions, so best not to have high expectations. There’s no shortage of power from the hybrid system and it’s smooth for the most part, the petrol engine only becoming vocal when it kicks in.

The biggest difference between this and the outgoing model is the new two-stage automatic gearbox which effectively has two speeds, so no more high revs on acceleration like the old CVT transmission. It’s still not perfect, but a huge improvement.

2023 Honda CR-V rear view

Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Handling

On the road, the CR-V feels like the substantial two-tonne car that it is. So, while it’s quick off the line, composed, comfortable and refined, it’s not particularly nimble.

Push it on more challenging roads and there’s a little body lean, but it’s manageable. It’s worth trying Sport mode for a little extra performance and adaptive dampers which make the suspension firmer to improve handling, but the fake exhaust note pumped through the cabin means it’s best reserved for short bursts.

That said, it’s easy to drive and handles well as an everyday driver. And thanks to the multitude of cameras and sensors, it’s a doddle to manoeuvre around town, too. Ultimately, the CR-V is more about comfort than driving dynamics, which should suit its target customers with families fine.

Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Verdict

The Honda CR-V e:PHEV is an impressive plug-in hybrid debut from Honda, and a real step-up from the previous generation model. Spacious, safe, comfortable, practical and with a good EV range and hybrid economy, it ticks plenty of family SUV boxes. It’s just a shame that the e:PHEV is only available in expensive top spec.

Honda CR-V e:PHEV – Tech Specs

Price: £53,995
On sale: Now
Engine: 2.0-litre petrol engine/ electric motor/ 17.7 kWh battery
Power: 181bhp
Transmission: Two-stage automatic
Performance: 0-62mph in 9.4s, top speed 121 mph
Weight: 1,919kg
Dimensions: L/W/H 4,706/1,866/1,673

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Verdict

4.00/5
The CR-V e:PHEV is an impressive plug-in hybrid debut from Honda, and a real step-up from the previous generation model. Spacious, safe, comfortable, practical and with a good EV range and hybrid economy, it ticks plenty of family SUV boxes. It’s just a shame that the e:PHEV is only available in expensive top spec.
Show More

Quality

3.50/5

Performance

3.50/5

Range

4.00/5

Comfort

4.00/5

Dynamics

3.50/5

Fast Facts

Price

£53,995

Battery Capacity

17.7 kWh

WLTP Range

596 miles

Maximum Power

181 bhp

Torque

247 lb-ft

0-60

9.1 secs

Top Speed

121 mph

Boot Capacity

617-
1710 litres

Pros and Cons

Strong EV range
Well equipped
Comfortable and refined
Spacious and practical
Too expensive
More dynamic alternatives
No all-wheel drive option
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