Review: Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018)

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Luxurious and more efficient than before. Was the softest riding and most stress-free SUV under £30,000. 1.6-litre i-DTEC is impressively refined and quiet.

Petrol engine not as good as the diesel. Five-speed petrol automatic irritating to drive. 1.6iDTEC 160 prone to DPF problems if used for short runs. Fault reports starting to build up.

Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018): At A Glance

It's no surprise the British built Honda CR-V is popular. It's practical, well-built and spacious making it the perfect family car. Add in high levels of comfort and some of the best diesel engines around and it adds up to a winning formula.

Entry level models are offered with two-wheel drive, but the vast majority of models come with an all-wheel drive system. That’s not to say the CR-V is as cumbersome as a true off-roader though – it offers a smooth and comfortable ride with light yet direct steering. On the road it feels more like car than an SUV.  

It’s still as practical as before, with a large boot capable of swallowing 1669 litres of luggage with the rear seats folded flat. Even with the seats up the boot is still usefully large and there's ample space for three adults in the back. Leg and headroom are very generous, even with the front seats as far back as they go. There are also plenty of cubbyholes including a deep central storage bin and spaces for bottles and parking change.

Originally there were two engines on offer – a quiet and versatile 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel and a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol which is a little lacklustre in comparison. When the CR-V was revised in 2015 with a subtle redesign on the outside and a vastly improved navigation and infotainment system inside, it also had an engine update.

The 2.2 i-DTEC was dropped and in its place is a 1.6 i-DTEC which actually has more power with 160PS plus is more economical. You can also get the CR-V as a 2WD with a low powered version of the same engine. At the same time Honda replaced the old five-speed auto with a much superior nine-speed auto which suits the relaxed nature of the CR-V perfectly.

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What does a Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018) cost?

List Price from £26,945
Buy new from £23,342
Contract hire from £223.34 per month

Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4570–4605 mm
Width 2095 mm
Height 1685 mm
Wheelbase 2630 mm

Full specifications

The CR-V has a fairly high, upright driving position that gives a good view of the road ahead. Sadly rear three-quarter visibility isn’t brilliant, but all models from the SE upwards come with front and rear parking sensors. The centre console is neat and simply laid out, although the fact there are two screens on top EX models – one for the sat nav and one for other information – can be a little confusing initially.  

Material quality is generally quite good. There's soft touch material on the dash top and the leather on higher trim levels lifts the ambiance significantly, but some of the plastics lower down are hard and in one of the cars we drove there were noticeable scrapes already. On top of that the fabric seat covering on lower trim levels isn’t of the best quality.

But these shortcomings are minor and very easy to forgive when you consider how practical the CR-V is. There are plenty of cubbyholes and storage bins front and rear, offering space to store bottles, loose change and other odds and ends, although the glovebox is a little bit on the small side.

The rear of the cabin is spacious, with enough leg and head room for taller adults even when the front seats are at the back of their runners. The ride in the back seats isn’t quite as good as it is in the front, but it’s still fairly comfortable and quiet over most surfaces, with only rougher roads causing a problem.

Folding the rear seats – which can be done by simply tugging a lever - reveals a cavernous load area of 1669 litres, but even with the seats in place there’s a useful 589 litres of space. It’s not perfect, though – there is a small lip, which might make removing bulky items tricky. Top models get an electric tailgate, which is handy when carrying a lot of stuff. Underneath the load floor there is a space saver spare but a full sized spare wheel is available.

There are four trim levels – S, SE, SR and EX. All models get a decent amount of standard kit, including dual zone climate control, hill start assist, cruise control, one-touch folding rear seats and iPod/ USB connectivity. Honda expects more than half of CR-Vs to be in top spec EX trim, which provides keyless entry and start, leather upholstery, electric driver’s seat with memory, a power tailgate, sat nav and a reversing camera.

Standard equipment from launch (October 2012):

S trim kicks off the range and comes with a 5-inch Intelligent Multi Info Display (i-MID), Idle Stop (manual), dual zone climate control, cruise control, one-touch folding rear seats, USB/ Aux connectivity, steering wheel audio controls, daytime running lights, 17 inch alloy wheels, stability control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, trailer stability assist, CD player, hill start assist, a fabric trimmed cabin and central locking. 

SE models get the same level of equipment as S plus a leather steering wheel and gearshifter, rain sensing wipers, automatic headlights, auto dimming rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, parking camera, electrically folding door mirrors, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth, front foglights and a CAT1 Alarm 

SR adds further equipment over SE, including half leather and alcantara interior, heated front seats, ambient lighting, enhanced audio system, DAB radio, colour coded roof rails, bi-HID headlights, dynamic cornering lights, high beam support system, headlight washers, 18 inch alloy wheels, driver's seat power lumbar support and a height adjustable passenger seat.

EX models sit at the top of the range and feature keyless entry and start, electric drivers seat with memory function, leather interior, power tailgate, panoramic glass roof, integrated sat nav and optional collision mitigating braking system.

Child seats that fit a Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018) like to drive?

Two engines were originally available – a 2.2-litre i-DTEC diesel and a 2.0-litre i-VTEC petrol. Both come with a six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic gearbox but Honda expects the diesel manual to be the most popular, perhaps owing to the fact it’s the best all round package.

The diesel engine is smooth and very quiet at most speeds. It only becomes slightly intrusive when pushed hard but there’s no need to do that because of a healthy 350Nm of torque available from 2000rpm. Peak power is 150PS at 4000rpm so it’s a versatile engine that fits well with the relaxed nature of the car.

Unfortunately the 2.0 i-VTEC isn’t as good. It produces more power than the diesel with 155PS but has significantly less torque with 192Nm. This peaks from 4300rpm which means that you have to drive it at higher engine speeds to get the best from it, which isn't good for refinement or fuel economy.

Official fuel economy for the most efficient 2.2 i-DTEC manual in S or SE trim is 50.1mpg. The petrol is, as you'd expect, less efficient. The manual version 168g/km of CO2 and averages a claimed 39.2mpg.

In 2015 the CR-V was facelifted with a slight redesign inside and out. There were significant changes under the bonnet with a 1.6 i-DTEC engine replacing the 2.2 i-DTEC. It may seem like a step backward, but the 1.6-litre diesel is so impressive, it actually feels just as good.

In 4WD models the 1.6 i-DTEC has 160PS. To achieve power that’s 10PS better than the larger outgoing engine it has an additional turbo, boosting not just output, but improving responsiveness, all while reducing CO2 emissions. CO2 falls from 149g/km to 129g/km with official fuel economy improves markedly from 42.8mpg to 57.7mpg.

If  you go for a 2WD model you'll get a 120PS version of the 1.6 i-DTEC but it still offers decent performance, with good in-gear acceleration. Economy is even better with a claimed 64.2mpg while CO2 of 115g/km mean it will be a popular choice for company car drivers.

Honda has also replaced the ageing five-speed automatic gearbox with a vastly better nine-speed auto. You may think that nine speeds is excessive, but it actually works very well and never hunts for gears. It's also reasonably responsive, although the auto CR-V is much nicer when it's not rushed.

Regardless of engine choice the CR-V is a very easy car to drive. The steering is light but responsive while the throttle and gearbox - with its high up, easy to reach gear lever - are exceptionally smooth. That means driving in stop-start traffic is painless and long distance cruising is easy, helped further by standard cruise control.

You might think that soft suspension and all-wheel drive would make for a poor drive on more testing roads but that's not the case. The steering isn’t as slow as traditional 4x4s so there's no need to make huge steering adjustments. The suspension, while comfortable over bumps, keeps body roll in check so you can corner with confidence and the grip will run out at speeds far higher than most drivers will ever go.

More or less all CR-Vs have an all-wheel drive system but there is no fiddling around in the cabin to switch it on. It's an on demand system so in standard driving power goes to the front wheels but when needed, like on wet grass or in poor weather, the 4x4 kicks in. In most circumstances, though, the CR-V drives like an everyday front-wheel drive car, which benefits fuel economy. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.6 i-DTEC 55–64 mpg 9.6–11.2 s 129–133 g/km
1.6 i-DTEC 2WD 58–64 mpg 11.2 s 115–129 g/km
1.6 i-DTEC Automatic 53–63 mpg 10.0–11.2 s 134–139 g/km
2.0 i-VTEC 37–38 mpg 10.2 s 173–177 g/km
2.0 i-VTEC 2WD 39 mpg 10.0 s 168–173 g/km
2.0 I-VTEC 2WD 39 mpg 10.0 s 168 g/km
2.0 i-VTEC Automatic 37–38 mpg 12.3 s 175–179 g/km
2.2 i-DTEC 50 mpg 9.7 s 144–149 g/km
2.2 i-DTEC Automatic 43 mpg 10.6 s 169–175 g/km

Real MPG average for a Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

22–66 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Honda CR-V (2012 – 2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Could you suggest a small, comfortable crossover?

I’m 72 and have a 2013 Honda CR-V petrol automatic. I love the car, especially the fully adjustable driver’s seat as I have a bad back. However, I have to park on the road and I really need a smaller SUV with the same amount of tech and comfort as my CR-V. I would appreciate any suggestions.
If budget allows, you could look at something smaller but more premium like a Volvo XC40, Lexus UX or Range Rover Evoque. Alternatively, we'd recommend a Volkswagen T-Cross or Honda HR-V.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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