In a sign of the times, you can now plug in your Honda CR-V. That's because this sixth generation version gains a Plug-in Hybrid powertrain option that offers drivers really impressive efficiency figures - if you can stretch to the asking price.
The Honda CR-V Motability range currently consists of only one model - the Plug-In Hybrid '2.0 i-MMD e:PHEV Advance Tech 184PS eCVT' at £6999 Motability Advance Payment (section updated January 2024).
Honda's CR-V has long been one of the world's strongest selling SUVs. Sometimes, in a market full of more extrovert rivals, we've wondered why. After all, this has never really been a contender that's jumped out at you from the spec sheet. No. You have to drive it. Use it. Fill it with family. Many of those experienced in doing just that probably won't even look at the alternatives before replacing their third, fourth or fifth generation CR-Vs with this MK6 model.
Like its predecessors, this crossover, according to its maker, offers a depth of engineering that many other rivals just don't have. It always has, ever since the original version of this 'Compact Recreational Vehicle' pretty much invented its segment back in 1995, with subsequent models in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2016 being pushed ever-more up-market. This MK6 CR-V took a bit of time to get to British shores, the car launched in the US in 2022. Unsurprisingly, the core e:HEV model is a full-Hybrid, but new for this sixth generation design is the option of Plug-in Hybrid power, allowing this Honda to better match its arch rival, Toyota's RAV4. Compared to the previous model, this redesigned CR-V is bigger, smarter and better connected too. Sounds promising.
It's quite Electric Vehicle (EV)-like away from rest - in fact it'll be totally EV-like if you've chosen the top e:PHEV version (Honda's first Plug-in Hybrid) and the 17.7kWh battery's been charged for a claimed 50 miles of range. Which, unless you advise the drive system otherwise, will always be prioritised before the long stroke Atkinson cycle 2.0-litre engine cuts in. Obviously, it'll cut in a lot sooner if your choice of CR-V is the more affordable non-plug-in self charging Hybrid e:HEV model because that variant's drive battery is just 1.06kWh in size. As with the PHEV, there's a 2-motor hybrid system with a 2-speed auto transmission and an output of 181bhp. This time round, the e:HEV Hybrid only comes with 4WD - in contrast to the e:PHEV model, where the system only drives the front wheels. There are four main drive modes - 'Snow', 'Econ', 'Normal' and 'Sport', the latter adding what Honda hopes is a sporty buzz to proceedings. The PHEV version adds two further settings, 'EV' and 'Tow', the latter reflecting the fact that you'd need the Plug-in Hybrid version with its 1,500kg braked towing weight (double that of the e:HEV) if you were to need to pull anything along with this car.
There's a pleasingly 'big car' feel to progress with both models, aided by the frequently-selective dampers - and perhaps by this model line's ever-increasing weight, nearly 2.0-tonnes in the PHEV model. Honda uses words like 'exhilarating' and 'sports car' when it comes to the handling of this SUV and we're not quite sure why because, as ever with this model line, the handling of this CR-V has been engineered to reduce the heartbeat rather than raise it. It doesn't feel in the least bit sporty, nor should it. But there are dynamic positives too - and for a typical CR-V owner, they'll probably be more significant. As long as you control yourself with the throttle pedal, refinement is excellent and the various power sources blend in and out very unobtrusively. The mixture between friction and regenerative braking is expertly judged. Body roll's decently controlled through the bends. And the lower window line and thin pillars make the car easy to manoeuvre in urban conditions.
This sixth generation CR-V has what Honda calls 'a stronger more aggressive presence', it's looks apparently inspired by US market products like the Ridgeline pick-up truck and the Passport SUV. It certainly bigger in every dimension than its predecessor, 80mm longer and 10mm wider. Most of the usual visual differences are at the front, where there's a more complex honeycomb grille flanked by narrower LED headlights. More familiar is the profile with its CR-V signature tick in the lower window line around the C-pillar, plus there are the usual high-mounted taillights.
Inside up-front, the dashboard architecture is mostly borrowed from the current Civic hatch, which is great if you like clean, ergonomic design: but not so good if for the money being asked here, you were (understandably) hoping for something a bit more premium. Still, it's more than a match for the cabin of a rival RAV4 and there's standard leather upholstery and a clear 9-inch central infotainment screen. Through the 3-spoke wheel, you view a 10.2inch digital dial display and there's a wide centre console with the usual USB ports.
Arguably though, the more significant changes lie further back. This time round, Honda has stretched the wheelbase by 40mm, which has delivered 15mm more legroom at the back. The previous generation model was launched with a seven-seat third row option, but we won't see that this time. As for luggage space, the e:HEV Hybrid version offers a large 587-litre boot (90-litres more than before). Unusually, the Plug-in Hybrid variant offers even more trunk space (617-litres) because its battery is located under the rear seat, rather than under the floor.
All this extra technology means plumper pricing for customers. There’s a base 'Elegance' trim, while the plusher 'Advance' variant gets you extra kit like leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and, on the PHEV variant, self-parking tech.
All CR-Vs get a very high standard of safety kit, with the 'Honda Sensing' package offering one of the most comprehensive suites of active safety and driver assistive technologies in the class, combining radar and camera tech. Included are 'Forward Collision Warning', a 'Collision Mitigating Braking' system, a 'Lane Keep Assist' system, 'Lane Departure Warning', 'Road Departure Mitigation' and 'Traffic Sign Recognition'. The basic design is pretty safe too, thanks to Honda's 'ACE' 'Advanced Compatibility Engineering' body structure design technology, which employs a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly.
The Plug-in Hybrid version (which manages 353.1mpg and 18g/km) is rated at an electric-only range of 51 miles from its 17.7kWh battery when fully charged. For the CR-V e:HEV hybrid, expect 42.8mpg on the combined cycle and a CO2 return of 150g/km.
It's easy to imagine yourself as target market for a car like this sixth generation CR-V. You've a couple of kids, an active lifestyle and an aversion to rather dull large estate cars. The thing is though, you've also an aversion to the kind of mid-sized SUV soft roaders that such a mindset would normally direct you towards. Understandably perhaps, you think they're all rather pretentious and silly.
But this car isn't. In fact, whether you choose the e:HEV Hybrid version or the PHEV, it's as sensible as family segment lifestyle-orientated SUV motoring gets. A car for people who look at what a vehicle can do for them rather than what it says about them. End use you see, has been the over-riding design parameter here, not cutting-edge styling, clever gadgetry, irrelevant pin-sharp handling or pointlessly powerful engines. As a result, it's an extremely easy thing to live with, the kind of car you'll own, then wonder how you managed without. That may not be a recipe for media headlines but it's an approach that other brands could certainly learn from, explaining why so many CR-Vs are driven by folk who previously owned one.
These are people who'll probably stick with Honda into this sixth generation version. It builds upon everything this long-running model line stands for - progressive design, an ergonomically excellent cabin, practicality, comfort and class-leading levels of safety. The interior still doesn't quite have the premium feel you'd get from a posh brand. Despite the fact that Honda wants to price this model at premium levels. But ultimately, this car remains distinctively different, distinctively... CR-V. Which ultimately, might very well be all you need.
People with a disability and carers who choose a new Honda CR-V through Motability will receive a brand new car, delivered by a Motability Specialist at a local Honda dealership, complete with insurance, servicing and maintenance, full breakdown assistance, replacement tyre cover, windscreen repair or replacement cover plus a mileage allowance of 60,000 miles over three years.
This month, these Honda Cr V New models can be ordered through the Motability Scheme: