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2018 Honda CR-V Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2018 Honda CR-V Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: LX vs EX vs EX-L & Touring
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What 2018 Honda CR-V Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between the Trims?

Beloved by both critics and consumers, the Honda CR-V is arguably the face of the modern compact crossover segment. It is spacious and versatile, as well as fuel efficient without sacrificing too much power or driving enjoyment. The 2018 Honda CR-V sees little changes from last year, when the model was fully redesigned for its fifth generation.

Like all compact crossovers, it very neatly bridges the divide between an inexpensive economy vehicle and a comfortable and sophisticated cruiser. It accomplishes that by offering four distinct trim levels that cover a price and feature range that has something for both economy and near-luxury shoppers.

Starting at under $25,000 and ending up at past $37,000 when fully equipped, Honda has managed to keep the different configurations of the CR-V very distinct while still offering buyers a degree of customizability to help them get their hands on the right car for their needs.

Our guide will examine the differences between the different trim levels of the 2018 CR-V, with an eye on helping you get both the most features and the most enjoyment for your hard-earned money on your next car purchase.

Compare the 2018 CR-V LX vs EX Trims. What is the difference?

The 2018 Honda CR-V breaks with some of the prevailing trends in the compact crossover segment with its base LX model. Honda offers only relatively limited technology in this model, making it feel a little more utilitarian than some rivals’ entry-level trims. Bluetooth, digital climate control, a USB port and the federally-mandated rearview camera are the only major modern tech elements on the LX.

The infotainment system display is a 5-inch non-touch screen. In exchange, the CR-V LX is more practical. It is available with all-wheel drive, where many other base crossovers are front-wheel only, and the upgrade comes for a very reasonable $1,400. Alloy wheels and daytime running lights are also both standard, and the LX uses the carryover 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine generating 184 horsepower from the last-generation CR-V.

The EX offers a hefty upgrade over the base model. Here is where all of the technology options missing from the LX have ended up. There are must-have features when it comes to connectivity, convenience and safety. The CR-V LX comes with a 7-inch touchscreen running the HondaLink software that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so that you can use your smartphone apps while driving, three more USB ports and satellite radio support.

It is equipped with a dual-zone automatic climate control system, a heated and powered driver’s seat as well as a heated passenger seat, a moonroof, two extra speakers and a smart key that unlocks the car when you get close, locks it when you walk away and incorporates both push button and remote start. The Honda Sensing safety suite is also standard, including forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and road departure mitigation, as well as dynamic cruise control and automatic headlights.

The EX is also equipped with radar-based blind spot monitors and rear cross traffic detection. Powering it is a new 1.5-liter turbocharged engine. At 190 horsepower, it offers only six horses more than the LX engine, but it also gets 2 miles per gallon more across the board than the older, naturally-aspirated model.

The sheer amount of features that the EX adds, all of which are standard, can make it an obvious choice for many shoppers, but all that gear does come at a price. The EX is nearly $3,000 more expensive than the LX. Given the many excellent features that it offers, it is a fair price and a solid value, but it may not be the best choice for everyone.

The good mechanical basics of the LX can make it a better choice if you are not particularly interested in technological upgrades. However, the prevalence of active safety features and smartphone integration in the current generation of cars can make those features must-haves for many drivers. If you are one of those, then the comprehensive nature of the EX feature set is perfect.

Compare the 2018 Honda CR-V EX vs EX-L Trims. What is the difference?

In Honda’s rather straightforward model codes, the -L suffix denotes leather, which is the big-ticket item that you get when you move up to the EX-L from the EX model of the 2018 CR-V. Accompanying the leather trim are power adjustments for both the driver and the passenger front seats, a powered tailgate, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with the HomeLink universal remote system installed.

The EX-L also upgrades the sound system on the CR-V again, this time to 8 speakers and 180 watts of output. Driver’s seat memory and heated side mirrors with indicators are the remaining parts of the EX-L package. Just like the other models, you can get this one in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. The only other option is the built-in satellite navigation, which is a $1,000 upgrade.

The leather and the powered liftgate and seating are main reasons that you would want to upgrade to the EX-L, which lists for $2,500 more than the EX. That is a reasonable price to pay for those options, even though the jump in features is not nearly as big between the EX and the EX-L as it is between the LX and the EX. If you want these options, go with the EX-L, while if you can live without them, the EX is a better value proposition.

The navigation can be a nice addon, but the infotainment system allows you to use your favorite map application on your phone for much the same results, so unless you are a particular fan of Honda’s system or don’t like relying on your smartphone, you will probably want to give it a pass.

Compare the CR-V EX-L vs Touring Trims. What is the difference?

The top end Touring model adds a few nice conveniences to the Honda CR-V with its technically advanced features, though it lacks any one major big ticket item that makes it a must-have upgrade. It includes the optional navigation from the EX-L as a standard feature, while also upgrading the sound system to a 9-speaker premium unit blasting out 330 watts of noise.

Dual chrome-tipped exhaust is standard, as are roof rails. Making life more convenient for you are also the automatic LED headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a hands-free powered liftgate. Of the three, we found the liftgate the most useful, particularly after a particularly big shopping trip. The Touring also adds a few unique styling details to both the outside and the inside of the car, though it doesn’t significantly change its overall look.

Like many top-end models in the class, the CR-V Touring is nicer than the mid-range model in follows, but has few things that most drivers can’t live without. The speakers on it do sounds nice, and the automated headlights and windshield wipers make for two less things that you have to think about when driving.

And we’ve already mentioned how helpful the tailgate sensor can be when you are approaching the car with both hands full. If that appeals to you and the Touring fits your budget, excellent. However, if you are looking to save money while still having a very nicely equipped vehicle, you will probably be happier with the EX-L.

Final Thoughts

With just four trim levels and few options or packages available, choosing your 2018 Honda CR-V is generally easier than with other vehicles. Of the four trim levels, our favorites are hands down the EX and the EX-L. Both add a significant amount of features in return for modest price increases, with must-have items in both models.

The advanced safety features and infotainment options endear the EX to us, while the EX-L gives us the leather trim and the powered conveniences that are also very popular with buyers. While the LX, with its option for a basic all-wheel drive configuration, does fill a necessary niche that is becoming increasingly uncommon, it is overshadowed by just how much gear the upgrade to the EX gets you.

Similarly, the Touring’s excellent feature set is made less exciting by the great value that is available on the EX and the EX-L trims. Any of the four 2018 Honda CR-V trims can be a good fit given your needs however.

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