The 2021 Honda CR-V starts at $25,350 in the U.S. and $29,805 in Canada, freight and delivery charges not included.
Lots of interior space, class-leading cargo room, fuel-efficient powertrains.
Turbo 1.5L engine doesn’t sound very good, some unwelcome suspension noise, not the best infotainment system out there.
In just a few years, the 2021 Honda CR-V has become the most important model for the Japanese brand in North America. Not only is it one of the best-selling compact crossovers in both the United States and Canada, but as of October 31st, 2020, the CR-V is outselling the Honda Civic in the two countries as well.
For the 2021 model year, the CR-V is carried over with minimal changes after receiving a mid-cycle refresh for 2020. That included exterior styling revisions, new features, a redesigned center console and—for the U.S. market—a new hybrid powertrain.
All non-hybrid trim levels are equipped with a turbocharged 1.5L inline-four that develops 190 horsepower as well as 179 pound-feet of torque from 2,000 to 5,000 rpm, matched to a continuously variable automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, while AWD is available.
Meanwhile, the crossover’s hybrid system consists of an Atkinson-cycle 2.0L four, two electric motors—one for propulsion and one acting as a generator/starter—and an electronically controlled variable automatic, good for a combined 212 horsepower and 232 pound-feet. AWD is standard.
The city/highway/combined fuel economy numbers for the 2021 Honda CR-V FWD are 28/34/30 mpg (8.3/7.0/7.7 L/100 km in Canada), while the AWD variant boasts figures of 27/32/29 mpg (8.7/7.4/8.1 L/100 km). The CR-V Hybrid’s ratings are 40/35/38 mpg.
In the U.S., the 2021 Honda CR-V is offered in LX, EX, EX-L and Touring trim levels, while the hybrid powertrain is available in all but the base LX. In Canada, the CR-V lineup includes LX-2WD, LX, Sport, EX-L, Touring and Black Edition variants.
The CR-V’s price ranges from $25,350 to $36,745 in the USA, and from $29,805 to $43,705 in Canada. It competes with the Toyota RAV4, the Nissan Rogue, the Ford Escape, the Hyundai Tucson, the Chevrolet Equinox, the Subaru Forester and many more.
What the 2021 Honda CR-V Does Well
- The CR-V’s bulletproof reputation was scarred by issues with the turbo 1.5L engine early in the current-generation model’s career. Fuel infiltrated into the oil flow and the company had to reprogram the engine. However, the software problems have been solved since then, but U.S. customers can turn to the solid hybrid powertrain instead. Nevertheless, the CR-V is a recommended purchase.
- Interior space is among the best in the compact utility vehicle class. The 2021 Honda CR-V also boasts segment-leading cargo space, with 39.2 cubic feet (1,110 litres) available when the rear seat is in place, and 75.8 cubic feet (2,146 litres) with the seatbacks folded down.
- Fuel economy is also one of the CR-V’s strong points, ranking at the top in its segment alongside the RAV4, the Rogue and the Escape.
- The 2021 Honda CR-V’s ride and handling are exactly what most consumers expect. It’s a comfortable crossover for family road trips, and it isn’t a bore to drive.
- Most advanced safety devices come standard in the CR-V, such as adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane departure warning and keep assist, forward collision warning and more. Blind spot monitoring is included in all but one trim level in the U.S., while the Canadian-spec CR-V gets the less-handy LaneWatch passenger-side camera in EX and Sport trims, and only the Touring and Black Edition benefit from the proper blind spot detection system.
What the 2021 Honda CR-V Doesn’t Do Well
- The turbo 1.5L engine’s sound lacks refinement. That said, the RAV4’s 2.5L engine isn’t any better, and neither is the Escape’s 1.5L three-cylinder mill.
- While the noise level inside the CR-V is more than acceptable, there is a little more suspension thumping than we’d like.
- The CR-V’s infotainment system isn’t the most complicated to use, but it isn’t the slickest either. The big issue here is the slim on-screen button zones that are hard to poke while driving. At least Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration comes standard in all but the U.S.-spec base LX trim, which solves the problem.
- The hybrid powertrain is undoubtedly efficient. However, the RAV4 Hybrid and Escape Hybrid have slightly better ratings.
- Hybrid-powered vehicles can be relatively popular in the United States, but in Canada, affordable plug-in hybrids benefit from government green-vehicle incentives to encourage consumers in reducing their carbon footprint. As a result, a PHEV equivalent can cost only a few more bucks a month than an HEV. Toyota and Ford have plug-in hybrid variants of their compact crossovers, Honda does not.
What We Tell Our Friends
The 2021 Honda CR-V is a smart buy as a family vehicle, as it’s extremely versatile, it’s got plenty of space for kids and adults in back, and cargo space is unmatched in its category. It’s also fuel efficient and easy to drive.
That said, the current-generation RAV4 is just as competent, has trendy off-road appearance packages and an available plug-in hybrid powertrain, while the Ford Escape and the Nissan Rogue have also improved considerably in regards to interior accommodations and fuel economy. Still, only the Toyota is more popular right now than the Honda, which proves how good and highly regarded the latter is.