Honda CR-V Hybrid SE

Honda CR-V Hybrid, front
Honda CR-V Hybrid, dynamic
Honda CR-V Hybrid front
Honda CR-V Hybrid, 2019, side
Honda CR-V Hybrid, rear
Honda CR-V Hybrid, 2019, rear, action
Honda CR-V Hybrid, interior
Honda CR-V Hybrid, boot
Honda CR-V Hybrid, 2019, rear

THERE are usually compromises to be made in the hunt for greater economy.

And, more often than not, it's a reduction in performance which proves the sacrificial lamb. After all, there's a common human comprehension of the ‘no gain without pain philosophy'.

Which is why the Hybrid version of the hugely successful Honda CR-V comes as something of a surprise.

Because not only is it noticeably more frugal than its pure petrol counterpart but it is also quite a bit more nimble.

The CR-V, the world's best selling SUV, is chunky and roomy - on a par with a Skoda Kodiaq or Discovery Sport - yet in hybrid form it sips little more fuel than a smaller Qashqai or T-Roc.

Whereas a few years ago the misers of a range would be diesel powered, today the black pump is snubbed.

The two-litre petrol engine is teamed up with an electric motor to give 181bhp and better acceleration and higher torque than the pure petrol version. Economy, at close to 42mpg in our hands, is around 5mpg improved.

As far as the driver's concerned it runs just like being behind the wheel of a petrol or diesel. Basically you can leave the technology to get on with its tasks without your involvement.

The quiet running four cylinder engine is coupled to a CVT automatic gearbox which does a decent though hardly sporty job of things.

Somehow, the variable single gear transmission suits the relaxed nature of the CR-V better than most.

Suspension is pliant and fairly soft to provide an easy going ride. Although there's some cornering roll the body feels well anchored down and there's an absence of rattles or flexing giving an impression of rigidity and strength. Noise levels, both from mechanical sources and wind interference, are minimal.

The version we tried was two-wheel-drive, although a four-wheel-drive model is available.

The front drive is both slightly more frugal and has swifter acceleration so is probably the better bet unless you need that extra grip over rough and slippery terrain.

Benchmark 62mph comes up in under nine seconds, putting it among the more sprightly members of the SUV gang.

The boot which has an almost flat floor is vast with a carrying capacity of 497 litres before rear seats are folded.

No seven-seat option in the hybrid however, because batteries beneath the floor take up the space for the third row of seats to fold into.

Fake wood inserts apart, the cabin is smart, serviceable and high quality with a central seven-inch touchscreen and solid, well positioned switchgear, loads of storage places to swallow up odds and ends and wide door pockets.

There's an overall impression of space and usefulness which helps make the CR-V exceptionally easy to live with.

FAST FACTS

Honda CR-V Hybrid SE

Price: £31,990

Mechanical:181bhp, 1,993cc, 4cyl petrol engine with electric motor driving front wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 112mph

0-62mph: 8.8 seconds

Combined MPG: 51.4

Insurance Group: 23

C02 emissions: 125g/km

Bik rating: 26%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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