So what does a circa-£36k hybrid car get you for your money? The quick answer is a lot, but you’ll have to make some sacrifices for the hybrid power.
Fully loaded as standard, the Honda CR-V Hybrid is a technology tour-de-force, with the Japanese firm putting its faith in the hybridisation of its flagship SUV model with the intention to roll out hybrid to its other models in addition to electric cars, such as the Honda Jazz Hybrid and Honda e.
In our car’s SR trim – which is top-spec for the two-wheel drive variant as mentioned in my first update – it wants for nothing and comes with a variety of standard kit including LED headlights front and rear, front windscreen wiper de-icer, Lane Keep Assist (that actually works – refer to “side note” below), Garmin satellite navigation, keyless entry and start and a few other niceties.
Moreover, the actual design of the CR-V is proving to be a bit of a hit. First off, it has copious amounts of room for all passengers and their luggage, which is great for travelling families. Honda’s engineers have also paid a lot of attention to the everyday detail; things like the doors being able to open at nearly 90 degrees means putting stuff (children, car seats and so on) is made all the more simple. There are also subtle touches, such as a “conversation mirror” that offers a simple rear cabin view with a mirror mounted along the edge of the roof-mounted sun glasses storage bin.
The centre console houses plenty of oddments storage too, from the usual twin cup holders, to a sliding and removable drawer that covers the main armrest storage area. Its flexibility means bottles of water or other paraphernalia are swallowed up and kept tidy with ease.
Other elements you won’t read about on the spec sheet include ample sound insulation that makes the CR-V Hybrid much more of a luxury cruiser than may at first meet the eye. The 2.0-litre Atkinson cycle engine is very quiet when not being pushed, but it can make a bit of a din when it is. The sound insulation helps keep this at bay though and ensures a premium driving experience and a more relaxing car to spend a long time in.
The interior is, however, a touch staid and Honda has definitely played it safe with a traditional dashboard setup and seating arrangement. The rear bench is split 60:40, offering generally very flexible storage, but the big loss of the CR-V Hybrid is the option for seven seats. If that matters to you, you’ll need to look at the petrol-only powered CR-V or elsewhere.
Importantly, Honda has been very keen with the Hybrid pricing, with it only commanding a minor premium over the petrol-only alternative. The SR petrol model costs £33,040 base price, while the CRV-Hybrid SR compares with a cost of £34,840. That’s a relatively small price increment for the Hybrid to benefit from its improved performance, fuel economy and cheaper tax.
Side note: Most of the time, us motoring writers spend a good few minutes trying to turn off driving aids and in particular lane keep assist. This is not because we don’t want or need them, but because very often they don’t work or work when you don’t want them to, for example when overtaking a cyclist. When we drive, we drive, and we don’t take kindly to systems that try to take over control unpredictably. On that point, it’s certainly true that the onus still lies with the driver in terms of responsibility, so when the steering wheel of a car doesn’t respond in the manner in which is expected of it, it can be dangerous. Here’s the point: Honda’s system (part of its SENSING safety kit) isn’t like that and instead appears to behave itself more so than most other implementations of lane keep assist.