The new Honda CR-V has been successfully sold in the USA and China for some time. Its design with a powerful radiator grille and significantly larger dimensions is well received by customers. At 4.71 m long, it is over ten centimeters longer than its predecessor, while the wheelbase and width have also increased. The now sixth generation of the Japanese crossover should also be a hit in Europe. In Europe in particular, the Japanese expect significant demand for the plug-in hybrid, which is offered under the name CR-V e:PHEV. This combines – only available as a front-wheel drive model – a 109 kW / 148 hp two-liter four-cylinder engine with a 135 kW / 184 hp electric motor, which is primarily responsible for driving the vehicle. A second electric motor is also attached to the front axle and serves as a generator. The electric range of the PHEV is just over 80 kilometers. The second version is a serial hybrid with a battery of just 1.1 kWh that supports the electric motor to turn the wheels. This model – obligatory an all-wheel drive – is technically identical to the one that was recently introduced in the slightly more compact ZR-V SUV. Kotaro Yamamoto, technical advisor at Honda Europe: “The highlight of this hybrid is that the logic of the interaction between the petrol engine and the electric motor is reversed, i.e. H. The more powerful electric motor is primarily responsible for propulsion, while the combustion engine functions primarily as a generator.”

The gasoline engine operates on the highly efficient Atkinson cycle and drives the smaller electric motor, which generates electrical power and powers the high-voltage battery. The thermal efficiency of the combustion engine is 41 percent, making it one of the highest of all combustion engine vehicles on the market. The very small battery with a capacity of one kilowatt hour is responsible for recuperation and the temporary storage of energy. The E-CVT continuously variable automatic transmission regulates torque by varying the current between the generator and the electric motor. Honda has long been known as an expert in hybrid drive systems; less for pure electric vehicles. This is also reflected in the fact that plug-in hybrids do not have high-performance charging, as some PHEVs offer. The on-board CR-V charger only reaches 6.8kW, meaning it takes 2.5 hours at best to fully charge the 17.7kWh battery.

Although it has grown so much on the outside, it is not surprising that there is significantly more space inside. The Honda CR-V, which costs at least 51,400 euros, is now one of the most spacious models in its class, which is particularly noticeable in the second row of seats, where the rear seat, which can be moved by 19 centimeters, offers a lot of variability. Apart from the fact that the rear headrests cannot be adjusted, the seats at the front and back are very comfortable and the lack of a cardan tunnel in particular is particularly noticeable when it comes to freedom of movement for feet and legs. Instruments and controls are sober – now typical for Honda – and easy to use. The rear doors have an opening angle of 90 degrees, making entry and exit much easier, and the backrests of the rear seats can also be adjusted to eight different positions. Compared to the previous CR-V, the trunk volume has increased by 99 liters to a total of 587 liters. In the PHEV version the increase is even greater, as the underbody offers space for 72 liters of small items.

The driving behavior is as comfortable as expected and the individual driving modes hardly allow the driver to notice any significant differences. In Econ mode alone, the accelerator pedal becomes noticeably more sluggish; Nothing that couldn’t be fixed by fully depressing the right pedal, as maximum power is always the same in all modes. In the plug-in hybrid, the difference between the modes is a little more noticeable, as this version is equipped with variably adjustable electronic shock absorbers. The inmates don’t notice much of it either. There are no controllable driving programs in the HEV version, as the system decides whether the car drives in hybrid or pure electric mode. This is also how the PHEV works when the battery pack is empty. There are also paddle shifters behind the steering wheel with which you can vary energy recovery in four different levels, and the driver can increase recuperation using B mode. Not very convincing: the all-too-synthetic acceleration noise of the engine in sport mode.

Despite the manageable engine power, the driving values ​​of the hybrid CR-V are acceptable because the electric boost ensures that the SUV has no difficulty accelerating cheerfully. From a standstill it takes just over nine seconds to reach 100 km/h and the top speed is an acceptable 187 km/h. The plug-in hybrid achieves similar data despite an additional weight of 170 kilograms and has a top speed of 194 km/h. What is more important is that the additional weight of the battery has a noticeably positive effect on driving behavior, as the battery is installed between the two axles. The plug-in version also has an additional tow driving mode, which must be selected next to the gearbox shift buttons in order to increase the trailer load to a maximum of 1,500 kilograms. That’s twice as much as the normal hybrids.