2021 Honda CR-V Review
In a broad sense, the 2021 Honda CR-V is the quintessential small SUV. It's spacious without being overly bulky, comfortable without feeling soft or bouncy, and endlessly usable thanks to lots of cargo space. It's also easy to drive and offers available all-wheel drive. Yet the key to the CR-V's appeal is that it typically manages to do these things just a little bit better than the competition.
The CR-V competes in one of the most fiercely contested classes around, with just about every mainstream automaker building a crossover SUV that's roughly the same size and price as the Honda. Other top alternatives include the upscale Mazda CX-5, the well-equipped Nissan Rogue and the outdoorsy Subaru Forester. So is it for you? Check out the categories of our CR-V Expert Review for our in-depth evaluation.
What's it like to live with?
When the current Honda CR-V debuted in 2017, we were so impressed that we went out and bought one for our long-term test fleet. Read our coverage to learn more about the CR-V's comfort, reliability and performance over the long haul. Note that while we tested a 2017 CR-V, the 2021 model is of the same generation and the majority of our coverage still applies.
The Honda CR-V is a brilliant small SUV due to its high competency across the board. It has exceptional storage space and functionality, plenty of features, a comfortable ride and enjoyable performance. And all of that comes at a competitive price for the class.
How does the CR-V drive?
The CR-V's turbocharged engine provides quick acceleration compared to other small SUVs with base engines. In our testing, our all-wheel-drive CR-V sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in 8.2 seconds. Thrilling? No, but it's more than adequate for the day-to-day commute. We're generally not fans of continuously variable automatic transmissions because of their awkward power delivery, but the CR-V's is an exception, delivering a fairly natural response in most situations.
The CR-V's steering and handling are also standouts. You'll have confidence piloting this SUV around turns. Steering is precise and connected while body motions are nicely controlled, which is something your passengers will appreciate.
How comfortable is the CR-V?
The CR-V's ride is quiet and smooth. You may notice some wind and tire noise, even the occasional engine revs when accelerating, but nothing out of the ordinary. The CR-V is comfortable on rougher road surfaces too. That's the case even in the Touring trim, which has the larger 19-inch wheels and shorter (less cushy) tire sidewalls.
The front seats provide good support and comfort for long drives. The rear seats are also decently comfortable and have a small amount of available recline to the seatback. As for the automatic climate control system, we've found it doesn't always maintain the precise temperature you've set, which can be annoying. However, the rear center vents will help ensure backseat passengers get a share of the airflow.
How’s the interior?
The CR-V has wide front and rear door openings that provide ample clearance on the way in. Occupants will have little difficulty entering or exiting. Once inside, the driver's seat and tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel offer plenty of adjustability. The CR-V's interior dimensions are generally larger than those of rivals, and rear-seating space is among the biggest you'll find in a small SUV. Four full-size adults will fit with little problem.
The main downside is the CR-V's control setup. Using the physical controls is intuitive, but some on-screen buttons are small and difficult to locate and press while driving. The digital temperature and fuel gauges flanking the speedometer can wash out in sunlight too.
How’s the tech?
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is standard on all but the LX trim, and Bluetooth connectivity and streaming audio are equipped on every Honda CR-V. Higher trims come with more USB ports, including two in the rear. The navigation screen is clear, but some touchscreen menus are clunky. The voice controls aren't that great to use either.
You do get plenty of safety equipment. Every CR-V comes with lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic braking. Collision monitoring sometimes sends unnecessary alerts in dense traffic, but otherwise the systems are helpful.
How’s the storage?
One of the CR-V's defining traits is its massive storage space. There's 39.2 cubic feet behind the rear seats. You can also easily fold them down and increase capacity to 75.8 cubic feet. Small-item storage is also exceptional. The deep center console is configurable with a sliding tray that doubles as a cover for valuables.
For child transportation duty, all of the CR-V's rear seats have relatively accessible car seat anchors. The large rear passenger area means car seats fit without the need to move the front seats. Each of the outboard rear seats has a tether anchor on the rear seatback. The center seat's tether anchor is in the roof, which can slightly obstruct rear visibility.
The only shortfall in this category is the CR-V's 1,500-pound maximum towing capacity. That's enough for a really small trailer, but other small SUVs can tow upwards of 3,500 pounds.
How economical is the CR-V?
The EPA estimates the all-wheel-drive CR-V will get 29 mpg in combined city/highway driving. Front-wheel-drive models get 30 mpg combined. While those figures make it one of the most efficient vehicles in its class, we've found that the CR-V is fairly sensitive to driving style. For reference, a previous test vehicle averaged an impressive 35.4 mpg on our 115-mile evaluation route, while another CR-V averaged about 28 mpg over longer testing.
Is the CR-V a good value?
The CR-V does not disappoint when it comes to build quality. Flowing interior panels and trim inserts fit together nicely. The same holds true for the leather on the seats and steering wheel in higher trims. Considering all trims now come with the turbocharged engine, the CR-V earns high marks for overall value in our book.
Honda delivers a three-year/36,000-mile limited warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty that are typical for the segment. Roadside assistance is available for the duration of the limited warranty.
The CR-V offers little in the way of outright excitement, but it overdelivers when it comes to competency across the board. We make that trade happily with a compact SUV.
Which CR-V does Edmunds recommend?
There's really no wrong trim level to pick, so a lot of your decision will come down to your budget and which features you want. Can't decide? Go with the midtier EX model. You get a few more desirable features than the LX (blind-spot monitoring, for example) while keeping the price reasonable.
Honda CR-V models
The 2021 Honda CR-V seats five and is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L and Touring. Front-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available across the board. Note that there is also a CR-V Hybrid, which is reviewed separately on Edmunds.