Honda CR-V (2012-2018) Review logo

Honda CR-V (2012-2018) Review

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heycar review

      Launch year
      2012
      Body type
      Crossover
      Fuel type
      Petrol, Diesel
heycar editorial team

Written by

heycar editorial team

00/10
heycar rating
Smooth and satisfying family SUV

Best bits

  • Punchy and efficient 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine
  • Huge boot and spacious cabin
  • Excellent build quality

Not so great

  • No seven-seat option
  • Petrol versions not as impressive as diesels
  • Top-spec models are very expensive

Read by

Honda CR-V frontleft exterior

Overall verdict

Honda CR-V front interior

On the inside

Honda CR-V frontleft exterior

Driving

Honda CR-V central console

How much does it cost to run

Honda CR-V boot open

Prices, versions and specification

Overall verdict

"The Honda CR-V manages to impress without excelling in one particular area. However, a front-wheel-drive CR-V powered by a 1.6-litre i-DTEC engine is one of the most practical, reliable and efficient SUVs you can buy. It’s let down by a forgettable driving experience and the poor petrol versions."

Honda CR-V frontleft exterior

The Honda CR-V was one of the pioneers of the lifestyle SUV – designed for staying on the road, rather than venturing off it. This version of the CR-V (that’s ‘Compact Recreational Vehicle’) arrived in 2012, with production ending in 2018.


It would be a little harsh to say that the CR-V manages to impress without excelling in one particular area. Instead, we’ll call it one of the best all-rounders in a crowded market that’s filled with household names.


If we had to choose three key attributes, we’d select comfort, space and efficiency. It’s clear that Honda designed the CR-V to offer ease-of-use, flexibility and a comfortable driving experience. In these respects, it’s one of the class leaders.


At its heart is a flexible and spacious interior. The boot offers a cavernous 589 litres of space with all seats in use, which is more than enough for a pushchair, suitcases for a summer holiday or an expensive day out at a flat-pack furniture store.


But there’s more to the CR-V than a big boot, because the rear seats can be folded away with just the pull of two levers, which creates a flat floor and up to 1,669 litres of luggage capacity. If space is your final frontier, the Honda CR-V is out of this world.


Up front, there’s ample room for five adults, with even the middle rear seat offering more space than many rivals. If you’ve got a young and growing family, the CR-V offers plenty of room for growth.


All models have a generous level of standard equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, DAB digital radio and electric lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat. The mid-range versions offer more kit, along with the option to add a suite of driver assistance systems.


Pick of the engines is the smooth, efficient, punchy and quiet 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel, which is available with a choice of two outputs. Although the 160PS version is impressive, we’d recommend the 120PS unit for its low running costs and the remarkable ease at which it powers the CR-V.


The 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol engine is less impressive, as is the 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel, especially in the context of the smaller 1.6-litre unit. Entry-level versions of the CR-V are front-wheel drive, while the more expensive models get four-wheel drive as standard.


To drive, the Honda CR-V is a forgettable experience, but that’s arguably its greatest strength. It’s comfortable, relaxed, refined and, aside from some questionable interior plastics, surprisingly upmarket. It’s let down by the lacklustre petrol engine and the fact that some versions were very expensive when new. Not that this is a problem when you’re buying used. It’s not the most exciting option in a crowded market, but the Honda CR-V is a satisfying SUV to own and drive.


If you're looking for the newer version, you need our Honda CR-V (2018-) review.

Is the Honda CR-V right for you?

All things considered, the Honda CR-V is arguably the best SUV you can buy. Sure, it doesn’t have the premium badge you might fancy, but in just about every other respect it’s a match for its more illustrious (and more expensive) rivals.


The diesel engines are remarkably efficient, especially if you opt for the 1.6-litre i-DTEC unit, plus there’s the option of four-wheel drive if required. It’s clear that somebody spent a considerable amount of time discovering what families want from their SUV, which is why the CR-V is one of the most practical and spacious cars in its class.


It’s not perfect. The petrol versions are best avoided, especially those with a five-speed manual gearbox. We’d also argue that the top-spec models are very expensive, with prices that edge them perilously close to premium-brand territory.


The Honda CR-V is almost completely devoid of excitement, which may or may not be a problem, depending on what you want from an SUV.

What’s the best Honda CR-V model/engine to choose?

The 1.6-litre i-DTEC diesel engine is the star of the Honda CR-V show, especially following the 2015 facelift. It’s no surprise that the relatively inefficient 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel engine was dropped from the range.


There’s no need to look beyond the 120PS version of the 1.6 i-DTEC. It’s quiet at low speeds, reasonably quick to accelerate and hushed on the motorway. Up to 64.2mpg is achievable on a combined cycle, while a 0-62mph time of 11.2 seconds isn’t significantly slower than the more powerful engines.


The 160PS version is recommended if you regularly carry a full load or you intend to tow something with your Honda CR-V. Just ask yourself if you need the extra poke, because the 160PS unit is exclusively four-wheel-drive.


Even the entry-level Honda CR-V offers a generous level of standard equipment, so ask yourself if it’s worth spending extra for a more expensive model.

What other cars are similar to the Honda CR-V?

The Honda CR-V’s arch-rival is the Toyota RAV4. Like the CR-V, the RAV4 majors on comfort, reliability and efficiency, but the Toyota has the added benefit of an optional hybrid powertrain.


Beyond the RAV4, there’s a multitude of rivals, each one offering a variation on a theme. The Skoda Kodiaq offers better value for money and the option of seven seats. The Mazda CX-5 looks better and is nicer to drive. The Volkswagen Tiguan offers a strong image. The Kia Sportage offers a seven-year warranty. The Honda CR-V is one of the best all-rounders in a crowded market.

Learn more

Honda CR-V front interior

On the inside

Honda CR-V frontleft exterior

Driving

Honda CR-V central console

How much does it cost to run

Honda CR-V boot open

Prices, versions and specification

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