2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Honda CR-V
2021 Honda CR-V Aft View
2021 Honda CR-V Steering Wheel Controls

2021 Honda CR-V Test Drive Review: Almost The Complete Package

The best selling vehicles in America after trucks are no longer sedans. Honda has kept pushing the Civic and Accord to new heights, but in the USA, the Honda CR-V crossover is now the automaker's best seller. For those seeking a versatile family runaround, the CR-V delivers a spacious and attractive interior, a fuel-efficient 1.5-liter turbocharged engine making 190 horsepower - or 212 hp in the case of the hybrid models - plenty of cargo space, and peppy driving dynamics.

Safety is also a key component in Honda's lineup, and the CR-V is no exception, which is key to battling rivals like the Toyota RAV4 and the Mazda CX-5. But can a solid all-round approach to the compact crossover segment really challenge rivals who focus their efforts on being exceptional in certain aspects and decent in others? Honda gave us the chance to spend some time with the 2021 CR-V to find out.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 9 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 7 /10
  • Reliability 9 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 9 /10
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2021 Honda CR-V Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 CR-V?

In last year's Honda CR-V review, we made mention of a few significant changes to the CR-V, such as making the 1.5-liter turbocharged engine standard, refreshing the styling, and adding more safety gear. Perhaps because of the extent of these upgrades, no major changes have been introduced for the 2021 model year. There have been four prior generations of the CR-V, and the 2021 model continues the life cycle of the fifth-gen model.

Pros and Cons

  • Excellent fuel-efficiency
  • Turbo engine feels nippy around town
  • Spacious cabin and trunk
  • Impressive interior quality
  • Comprehensive safety specification
  • Good handling
  • Low towing capacity
  • Some competitors offer more power
  • Infotainment interface needs refining
  • Lacks some high-tech features

What's the Price of the New Honda CR-V?

The 2021 Honda CR-V will cost $25,350 in the USA for the entry-level LX. That represents a $300 increase over last year's equivalent model, so a nearly new used example is worthy of consideration based on the fact that there have been no major changes for 2021. Next is the EX at $27,860 and the EX-L at $30,450. Following these are the Hybrid EX at $30,560 and the Hybrid EX-L at $33,150. The most expensive gas-only model is the Touring, with an MSRP of $33,650, while the priciest CR-V of all is the Hybrid Touring at $36,350. These prices exclude a destination/handling charge of $1,120 along with tax, licensing, and registration costs. The Honda CR-V's price will increase by $1,500 when upgrading from FWD to AWD on non-hybrid models. Other SUVs for sale in this segment include the Mazda CX-5, which starts at a slightly cheaper $25,370 but goes all the way up to $37,505.

Best Deals on 2021 Honda CR-V

2021 Honda CR-V Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
Special Edition
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
1.5L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
Hybrid EX
2.0L Inline-4 Hybrid
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Honda CR-V Trims and Specs See All 2021 Honda CR-V Exterior Photos


  • Length 182.1 in
  • Wheelbase 104.8 in
  • Height 66.1 in
  • Max Width 73.0 in
  • Front Width 63.0 in
  • Rear Width 63.7 in
  • Curb Weight 3,337.0 lbs

Handling and Driving Impressions

While Mazda's CX-5 is more entertaining to drive, the CR-V still has Honda's love of driving dynamics in its DNA. With good steering feedback and an agile chassis, the CR-V avoids being a boring utility vehicle to drive and betters more popular competition such as Toyota's RAV4. The Honda CR-V's engine is tuned for efficiency, but it gets off the line quick enough to join fast-moving traffic, and Honda's CVT is one of the best in the business. There are no pretend steps to mimic a traditionally geared transmission; instead, it's a smooth and reactive unit that does an excellent job of keeping the engine's revs in the right place for the style of driving being used.

The Sport setting makes the CR-V mildly more reactive to throttle inputs, and the big green Eco button does the opposite while taking more control over drains on fuel economy, such as air-conditioning. Honda's CR-V excels around town with suspension that gives a compliant ride over rough roads without giving into body roll around corners. Honda has upped its game for quieting down road noise, and mixed with the ride quality, the CR-V has become a plusher ride than the pre-facelift model and preceding generations.

  • Seating capacity
  • Front Leg Room 41.3 in
  • Front Head Room 40.1 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.4 in
  • Rear Head Room 39.2 in

Verdict: Is the 2021 Honda CR-V A Good SUV?

In a fiercely competitive segment, the CR-V should be on everyone's cross-shopping list. It's versatile, spacious, comfortable, and manages to do all that without being boring. After a recent refresh, this generation is as good as it will get, and most of the kinks have been ironed out. The only thing that holds the CR-V back is the infotainment system, which becomes even more apparent when you look at what Hyundai and Kia offer as standard. If that's not a deal-breaker, we would not try to stop anyone from pulling the trigger in a 2021 CR-V.

What Honda CR-V Model Should I Buy?

We would skip the basic LX trim completely as other automakers deliver more features in their most affordable models. We're also not convinced by the Touring trim when compared to spending the same money for an upscale interior and wealth of features on a Mazda CX-5.

However, the CR-V shines in its mid-tier EX and EX-L trims as a comfortable and useful crossover. The additions over the base LX model of a power moonroof, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic monitoring, a larger seven-inch touchscreen display, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and dual-zone automatic climate control make the EX a great buy. Unfortunately, you need to step up to the EX-L for the power tailgate, which should at least be an option for the EX. Along with the power tailgate, the leather-trimmed seats and steering wheel, and heated front seats will suit those that want a more upscale interior.

Check out other Honda CR-V Styles

2021 Honda CR-V Comparisons

Toyota RAV4
Mazda CX-5 Mazda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Honda CR-V190 hp28/34 mpg$28,410
Toyota RAV4 203 hpTBC$28,675
Mazda CX-5 187 hp23/29 mpg$29,300

2021 Honda CR-V vs Toyota RAV4

Every competitor in this segment must ultimately answer to the top-selling Toyota RAV4, a crossover that US buyers can't seem to get enough of. Choosing between these two isn't an easy task, though, as they are that closely matched. The Toyota is powered by a much larger 2.5-liter engine, but it lacks turbocharging so both crossovers aren't among the fastest-accelerating options in the segment. Despite the different power plants, they're similarly efficient, too, although the RAV4 Hybrid eclipses the CR-V Hybrid in this aspect. On the road, the CR-V is more rewarding to drive with sharper responses, but the TRD Off-Road RAV4 is a better choice for heading off the beaten path. Inside, large cabins are finished in materials that are both high-quality and feel durable, but the CR-V wins with a larger trunk, at least on non-hybrid models. However, the Toyota, when correctly equipped, can tow nearly 2,000 lbs more than the Honda. Both base models are missing some key features, but the cheapest RAV4 at least has smartphone integration and a bigger touchscreen interface. If ever a back-to-back test drive was needed before signing on the dotted line, these two make a strong case for it.

See Toyota RAV4 Review

2021 Honda CR-V vs Mazda CX-5

Whereas the CR-V is an excellent all-rounder, the Mazda CX-5 aims to be a more sporty, desirable alternative in this segment. It boasts handsome styling, the availability of a powerful 250-hp turbocharged engine, brilliant handling, and an upscale interior that feels more expensive than most rivals. The base CX-5 (with a non-turbo engine) comes with a much larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and LED headlights, outdoing the base CR-V at a lower starting price. The Honda's turbo engine provides better acceleration than the Mazda's base power plant, though, while traveling around two miles per gallon further in FWD guise in a mix of city/highway driving. Whether the back seats are upright or folded, the CR-V offers a lot more cargo space. Upper CX-5 trims become quite expensive, but they do boast that excellent turbo engine and luxuries like heated/ventilated front seats and even Nappa leather. The CX-5 appeals to us more.

See Mazda CX-5 Review
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