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2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Trim Levels with Comparisons & Configurations.

2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Trim Levels, Configurations & Comparisons: EX vs EX-L & Touring

What 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Trim Level Should you Buy? What is the Difference Between Trims?

Versatile in its compact design, Honda knows what buyers need from the CR-V. They also know that buyers want options while looking at hybrid models. That is why the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid line-up comes in your choice of three trim levels: The EX, EX-L, and the Touring.

While the CR-V Hybrid might not be as fun to drive as some of the gas-powered competitors, for a hybrid powertrain, it is quick to accelerate and gets a respectable fuel economy. It also manages to maintain a pleasant ride quality without becoming floaty or imbalanced at any point. Steering remains on point and provides plenty of feedback, and handling is rather spunky.

As far as compact SUVs go, the CR-V is one of the stand-outs in its class. And the Hybrid is certainly no exception to this rule. Pick from any of its three trim levels and see for yourself. Unlike the gas-only line-up, the Hybrid ditches the LX and goes straight for the EX, which is always a popular pick on a Honda line-up.

Next year promises an entirely new, revamped CR-V and CR-V Hybrid, so if you read through this trim level comparison review and are left with some doubts, hang on until 2022. There are some big changes coming. But, if you read on through to the end, we will give you our final verdict on this year's line-up, and that might help you pick the trim level you want to buy.

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Compare the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX vs Hybrid EX-L Trims. What is the difference?

The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid starts things off with the EX trim level. But, before we jump into the cool tech specs, we need too address the mechanical elements found on the CR-V Hybrid models. The engine is an inline-4 cylinder with a 1933 cc displacement, 143 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque. There is a 16-Valve DOHC i-VTEC valve train,an AC Synchronous Permanent-Magnet electric motor, and a 3-Mode Drive System (ECON/Sport/EV). The hybrid's total horsepower is 181 hp and total torque is 232 lb-ft of torque. Each system also comes with an Eco Assist System, an automatic brake hold with the electric parking brake, active noise cancellation, an engine immobilizer with the direct ignition system, and hill start assist.

While the gas-only versions comes with standard front-wheel drive, the Hybrid gets a standard Real Time AWD with Intelligent Control System. Remote engine start is also equipped.

The Hybrid models also get their own unique transmission: an Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (better known as the E-CVT) which comes equipped with Deleceration Selectors and Sport Mode. Idle stop is also a component that comes standard.

Now that you get an idea of what these vehicles are like under the hood (and they are all the same in that regard), let us take a look at the features offered on the three trim levels, starting with the EX and EX-L.

Let's start with audio and connectivity features since, honestly, that's what most of us want to have in our vehicles these days. We need our lives to be connected. And Honda helps drivers connect though standard Bluetooth HandsFreeLink for phone calling and Bluetooth Streaming Audio. There is also Pandora compatibility, a Radio Data System, speed sensitive volume control, one 1.0-amp USB audio interface port on the front console, one 1.5-amp USB Smartphone/Audio Interface port on the front console, and one 12-volt power outlet on the center console.

While the EX comes with a 180-watt 6-speaker sound system, the EX-L gets upgraded to a 180-watt 8-speaker system. They both have a 7-inch infotainment display with a high-resolution electro-static touchscreen, compass, and customizable features. Also, you get standard HondaLink, smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, HD Radio, SMS text messaging, and two 2.5-Amp USB Charging Ports in the second row.

Now, let's dive into the comfort and convenience features, since those are probably also pretty high on your list of 'must-haves'. For starters, the doors and tailgate are power locking. Additionally, you get standard cruise control, one-touch turn indicators, a tilting and telescoping steering wheel, a shiftier mounted onto the instrument panel, a capless fuel filler, dual sliding sun visors, front and rear beverage holders, a locking glove box, door pocket storage bins, and heater ducts for the rear seats. Add to that cargo tie-down anchors, a rear window defroster, lights for the cargo area, illumination on the vanity mirrors, push button start, a retractable cargo cover, and dual zone climate control.

The EX-L does add a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shift knob, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, the HomeLink Remote System, and ambient interior lighting.

As far as seating goes, the EX and EX-L are pretty similar. Both of these trim levels come with an easy-folding 60/40-split folding rear seat and heated front seats that include a driver's seat with 12-way power adjustment and 4-way power lumbar support. It also has two position memory. On the EX-L, you do gain 4-way power adjustability on the front passenger seat and leather upholstery.

What about the exteriors? Are they any different? Can you even tell them apart? Well, yes, but they aren't dramatically different. Both the EX and EX-L come with LED headlights with auto on/off, an active shutter grille, and a fin-style roof-mounted antenna. There is a remote entry system, a reverse-linked intermittent windshield wiper/washer on the rear with a heated wiper zone, and body-colored door handles and a roofline spoiler with a brake light built in.

Other exterior features include a security system, privacy glass for the rear, LED fog lights, a walk away auto lock function with the Smart Entry system, variable intermittent windshield wipers, and powered and heated side mirrors that are body-colored with built-in turn indicators. The only real difference is that The EX-L has a programmable height feature for the power tailgate.

Of course, you are probably wondering what kind of driver assistance features come on these trim levels. Most drivers will be satisfied with the standard array offered with Honda Sensing: lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control that has a low-speed follow function, automatic high-bream headlights, and a blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross traffic alert.

Compare the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid EX-L vs Hybrid Touring Trim. What is the difference?

So, what do you get on the Touring that you cannot on the EX-L? Well, there are a few things that Honda does to up the ante on this line-topping trim level. Tech-wise, it sees the addition of Honda's built-in navigation system with Honda HD digital traffic and voice recognition. It also gets a 8-speaker 330-watt premium sound system that comes with a subwoofer. There is also a wireless charger that gets thrown into the mix.

On the outside, there are a few minor changes that are worth reporting. The windshield wipers are rain-sensing, and the programmable power lifttgate has hands-free access. You also get roof rails and parking sensors for the front and rear. There are also bigger, 19-inch wheels that are done in alloy. The LED headlights have a unique signature design to them.

Other than that, you will not see a massive list of upgrades to the Touring trim level since the EX-L already packs so many things in. That is why we think most buyers will opt for either the EX or EX-L. But read on to learn more as to why those are our top choices and if we think of those two is better than the other.

Buying Tip: To avoid overpaying on a new car, shop prices online first. Get up front pricing before you walk into a dealership. We recommend the following free services; Car Clearance Deals,   Edmunds,   CarsDirect,   NADAguides  &  Motortrend. These free services will offer you the lowest prices and supply you with multiple competing price quotes. You will know the best price before you visit the dealer.

Which Trim to Choose?

The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid is one of the top vehicles in its segment for several reasons. Its fuel economy is certainly better than its gas-only CR-V sibling, but only just. It still does better than a lot of its top rivals though, and that counts quite a bit. The one thing this powertrain really does well is provide an incredibly smooth ride, which is something that many hybrid powertrains struggle to do. While rivals do not always transition from gas to electric motor with ease, the CR-V makes the transition seamlessly.

Bear in mind, though, that the powertrain does struggle with acceleration as hybids are wont to do. This one will clock in at a 0-60 mph time of 8.5 seconds, which is a full second slower than the gas-only CR-V. This makes trying to get up to speed on the highway and passing other vehicles something of a task. And, since you only get that one hybrid option, you cannot opt for anything with a bit more 'oomph'.

The things about the CR-V Hybrid is that it is geared for comfort and practicality. No matter which trim level you choose, you get an interior that is meant to function in a way that makes your life easier. The 33.2 cubic feet of cargo space is quite good for its class, although it doesn't quite stack up to the 39.2 cubic feet offered by the gas-powered CR-V. Still, you get a lot of versatility back there and can securely tote cargo from one destination to another.

That being said, we do think that there is one trim level that is better than the other two. The mid-tier EX-L serves up just the right amount of standard features without spiking the price up too high. The Touring does not do enough to justify its price tag, and the EX is fine enough for a base trim. However, we think that the extra bells and whistles that come on the EX-L are going to attract a few more buyers.

The EX-L has that beautiful ambient interior lighting that really helps you feel warm and welcome inside of the cabin. And the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and matching gear shift knob provide just the right touch of luxury - a nice complement to the heated front seats. And, for the front passenger, having 4-way power adjustability gives them extra room to maneuver about and find the right position to sit in without the extra hassle of making manual adjustments. Of course, the bonus of having the power liftgate with hands-free access is a 'win' for busy, on-the-go people who need to quick get into their cargo areas and already have their hands loaded down.

While the EX-L might not be the trim for you, we recommend you give it some though. And give some thought to the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid in general. If you can wait a year for the revamped 2022 CR-V Hybrid, do, as it promises many amazing changes. But, if you can't, this generation-ending line-up is still a people-pleaser. From its strong fuel economy to its smooth ride quality, the CR-V Hybrid is yet another piece of proof that Honda knows how to build a vehicle that caters to a wide array of drivers.

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