Earlier in the week I posted about the current generation CR-V and how it was substantially better than a RAV4 in every way except fuel economy... however the hybrid CR-V changes that to make it better than the RAV4 in every-single-way.
We all know that normal engines are running out of time, more manufacturers are going hybrid/electric and the days of automotive as we know it are fading. What if I told you Honda have somehow encapsulated a normal engine within a hybrid system which has decent power and great fuel economy? Witchcraft surely, right?
How does it look then?
Unlike the questionably designed RAV4, the CR-V has a lovely and refined design language which can appreciated by all - not just those with poor vision. Diamond cut alloys, long lines and a front end most can get on with. Move to the back and it's much the same, sensible design choices without being too boring. You can even spec an 'Aero Pack'!
Inside is boring then, right?
You can't deny that the interiors of most current SUV's are far from being luxury comfort havens, somehow though - Honda have made it somewhat luxurious... pretty comfortable... and a bit of a haven away from the outside. Visibility is decent, audio is superb, practicality is unmeasurably good - everything you expect from a Honda, right?
Get to the engine already!
The review on Wednesday featured the 1.5 VTEC petrol which has 170bhp (193bhp in the CVT) and generally felt pretty spritely for such a small capacity engine. The hybrid has a magical 2.0 engine which can not only act as an engine, but a generator for the batteries too. Seriously mind-bending stuff which works seamlessly, all while you're pottering to the garden centre.
Thanks to the fact it's a hybrid, the 0-62mph time is actually about 1 second faster than the conventional engine - despite being considerably heavier with all the magical hybrid technology. Plant your foot and the CR-V jumps to action with no lag, the electric motor pushes the medium SUV off the line like a super car (ahem, up to 20mph).
The economy is stupidly good, up to 60mpg around town and around 50mpg on a run, that's real world - not what Honda handed to me on a press pack. You can get those figures all day every day, take the CR-V to a backroad and it's equally impressive. No, it's not as nimble as the standard car (extra weight) but it does an excellent job in not letting you feel... large.
How is the CR-V the future then?
Buying vehicles in this segment is expensive, the RAV4 with a matching spec is around £4,000 more than the EX hybrid CR-V... and it's simply not as good, so that makes the Honda appear to be a bargain. Additionally the CR-V doesn't drive like a 'traditional hybrid', rather like the vehicle it's here to replace - a combustion engine.
If every manufacturer could produce hybrids which didn't feel like every time you floor it they wanted to scream and explode, I bet more people would be inclined to invest. If you floor the CR-V, it whisks away with minimal fuss and doesn't scream in your face at all.
The CR-V is the future simply because until others adapt the type of hybrid drivetrain it has, petrol heads won't like hybrids. It's ahead of the competition by some years as Lexus/Toyota don't have a single hybrid in the segment which doesn't sound like a cat being slowly crushed when you floor it - that is definitely a reasoning behind car lovers not... loving them... right?
If you're a car lover, want to protect the future of the world, not pay extra fees to drive in city centres and still enjoy the drive - the CR-V hybrid is a good place to start.