Blending space and comfort with hybrid: 2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid review

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2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Regular readers may remember that earlier this year, I drove the new Honda CR-V Hybrid. That was only a brief drive, though, what was it like to live with one for a week?

For starters, let’s talk about the powertrain, which is as clever as a child genius. It uses a 2.0 litre engine, which powers a generator motor, which then sends power to the electric motor, which then drives the wheels. It all sounds rather involved, but thankfully the system manages itself very well, and it’s far easier to drive than to explain in great depth.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

This is thanks to the i-MMD system – Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive for those of you not in the know. This system transitions smoothly and seamlessly between three different modes; EV only, of which the range is only 1.2 miles, Hybrid, which will of course be the car’s most prominent drive mode, and engine drive. In the engine drive mode, the car uses a lock up clutch to mate the engine directly to the driven wheels and is activated at faster speeds such as motorway work.

Helping to distribute this power is Honda’s eCVT gearbox, which operates at a single fixed-gear ratio which creates a direct connection between moving components, which gives a smooth transfer of torque, according to the Japanese brand. Because of this approach, Honda states that it’s a more refined system than similar transmissions found in other cars, but how does it drive?

Smooth, comfortable, effortless

The CR-V Hybrid is able to offer 184hp with 315Nm of torque, and this power can be selected in front wheel drive, or all wheel drive. The car you see in this review is front wheel drive, which as you may remember, was the one I preferred when I first drove this car earlier this year. This is because it just feels a bit more keen to drive than the all wheel drive, plus it’s a bit lighter as well.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

In case you want to know about performance, you’ll hit 62mph in 8.8 seconds, which is pretty respectable, and the top speed is 112mph. The Hybrid feels responsive thanks to electric motor, and it’s incredibly easy to drive. Thanks to the e-CVT it’s also as smooth as silk, and the car is comfy as well. Ok, so the ride of this car isn’t quite as compliant as the all wheel drive version, but it’s still noticeably better than other SUVs I’ve driven, the Kia Sportage for example.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

You also have wonderful leather seats, which are also heated for those colder months, but unlike the range-topping EX version, this version does not have the heated steering wheel. Mind you, it’s spring in the UK, so it’s a feature I’m not going to miss any time soon. In case you are wondering, the trim level I’m driving is the SR, which is the highest version for the front wheel drive model, but how much is it and what’s included?

Generously equipped

The SR sits just below the range-topping EX trim level, and is priced from £34,470. Standard features include 18″ alloys, LED headlights, keyless entry, 7″ touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation, smartphone connectivity, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, leather seats, dual zone climate control, heated front seats, as well as a good amount of safety equipment. The car seen here is £35,020, thanks to optional Platinum White Pearl paint, which looks very enticing when the sunlight hits it.

How much will it cost to run?

Now, I’m sure what you really want to know is how frugal this car is – it is after all a hybrid. On a combined run, using the old NEDC method of testing, Honda states that this car is good for 53.3mpg. In my experience I was getting around 53, although it’s worth noting I had less traffic to deal with as the schools had broken up for the Easter holidays.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid
You may think that paddle operates the gearbox, but in fact it controls how strong the regenerative braking is.

That aside, I drove the car quite a few miles and it didn’t use much fuel, so I think this is a worthy alternative to a diesel, although there are some diesel powered rivals that are more frugal, still. In regard to CO2 emissions, this car emits 120g/km, meaning you pay £170 for the first year of VED. For those of you that want to know about the CR-V Hybrid’s BIK rating, that’s 28%.

Well thought out when it comes to practicality

That’s the fuel economy out of the way, I’d like to talk about space and practicality, which is an area where the CR-V Hybrid does very well. Like the petrol version, this car has got plenty of space, and I very much doubt you’ll be left wanting. Let’s kick things off with the boot, and yes, it is a little bit smaller than the petrol version, thanks to the batteries needed for the hybrid system, but it still offers a respectable 497 litres.

What’s better still, is that the load lip is low and there is no step in to the boot, meaning it will be easier to load bigger, heavier items. Fold the 60/40 rear seats down and not only do you get almost 1,700 litres to play with – 1697 to be exact – but you’ll also find a flat load floor, which once again is better for loading bigger items. It’s clear that Honda has put thought in to this boot, which is bound to please many buyers.

Step in to the back and you’ll find that the spaciousness theme continues. Even with a driver’s seat set for my 6’2″ height, I had loads of legroom in the rear, as well as ample knee room. I’m sure even Peter Crouch would be able to get comfortable back here, and what’s better still, I also had a good amount headroom, although I’m not sure it’d be quite enough for Mr Crouch. Come to think of it, what cars would he have decent headroom in? Maybe he’s just got a convertible? I digress.

Could you fit three adults in the back? Yes, you can. Ok, so the passenger in the middle may feel a tad squashed, but the middle seat isn’t too slim, plus the transmission tunnel is minimal. However, if you don’t happen to have anyone sat in the middle, then your other rear passengers can make use of this armrest, which has two cupholders in it. There’s also two USB ports in the rear to charge your electrical devices on the go, and you also have decent sized doorbins.

The practicality doesn’t stop there, though…

Getting in and out is a piece of cake, thanks to rear doors that open virtually 90 degrees. Like the boot then, Honda has clearly put some proper thought in to making the rear as practical as possible.

Let’s move on to the front where you’ll find plenty of cubby holes as well as a sunglasses holder that also acts a wide angle rear view mirror, so you can keep an eye on those in the rear. Handy for making sure the children behave on a family road trip. Once more, Honda has clearly been clever with the packaging of this car’s interior. Another example of this is the leather panels on the side of the centre console, which makes it more comfortable to rest your leg on.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

If only the brand been more clever with the infotainment system it had fitted. For my regular readers, I’m sorry to sound like a broken record, but the Honda Connect system is woeful, mediocre at best. I’m not going to say too much about it now, so on that note, I think it’s time to do some more driving.

Comfy, but not engaging

As I mentioned in my first drive review, the CR-V Hybrid is a very quiet car to drive thanks to the hybrid powertrain, although you will notice some tyre noise coming in to the cabin. Apart from that slight intrusion, though, it’s so quiet in here, you could probably hear a fly’s heartbeat. This coupled with the good amount of comfort this car can offer, means it’s an easy-going companion that should have little issue tackling longer journeys.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

There is of course a downside to this – it’s not very exciting to drive, nor is it much fun in the corners. The steering weight is actually pretty pleasing, but this is a car that is far from dynamic, although let’s face it, that’s not what it’s designed for. Thanks to the size and weight of the car, you’ll find pronounced body roll in the bends, so it’s safe to say, handling is not the CR-V Hybrid’s forte.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

However, there’s a good chance that you’re not really fussed about such things. There is, however, a ‘Sport’ mode, which seems a bit redundant in a car such as this, but to be fair it does help to make the car a bit more peppy. There’s also an ‘ECON’ mode to give better economy, and an EV mode to drive the in EV only – obviously.

Safe as houses

The Hybrid version does of course share the same architecture as the petrol version, therefore buyers will get a car that was awarded five stars from Euro NCAP. Standard safety features include seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking, hill start assist, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, speed limiter, low speed following and traffic sign recognition. The SR model adds to this with blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Final thoughts

I must say, the week I spent with the Honda CR-V Hybrid has been a pleasant one. It’s easy to drive, very practical, very spacious and comfortable. Ok, so it’s not the most frugal SUV going, but it’s bound to appeal to those who want to upgrade from an older, diesel CR-V, or for those looking to buy a CR-V that’s cheaper to run than the petrol version.

2019 Honda CR-V Hybrid

Car Obsession Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Pros:

  • More frugal than the petrol version (naturally)
  • Comfortable
  • Smooth, and easy to drive
  • Very practical and spacious
  • Good level of kit
  • High safety levels

Cons:

  • Boot is a bit smaller than the petrol version
  • Not engaging to drive
  • Some diesel SUVs still offer better economy
  • Infotainment system is woeful

Rivals

Toyota RAV4

The new Toyota RAV4 is more radical in its design compared to previous versions, and there is a good chance the looks may be too divisive for some. Like the CR-V Hybrid, there’s no option for a sever seater, and it’s not quite as frugal, although it does emit considerably less CO2.

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