2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid Pros vs Cons. Should You Buy?
Introduced just last year, the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid offers a lot of practicality of those looking to leave smaller footprints. While its real-world numbers struggle to hold up to its EPA estimates, the CR-V Hybrid does offer standard all-wheel drive and an extremely comfortable and secure ride quality. Buyers who have traditionally stuck with the gas-powered CR-V might want to hold off another year to see what changes will come in 2022 as that line-up is due for an overhaul, marking its sixth generation. But the first generation of the Hybrid is, so far, a respectable one - just one that needs some kinks worked out.
What's New for 2021?
Gone from the line-up this year is the LX model. It can still be found on the gas-only 2021 Honda CR-V, but it is not available for the Hybrid. With that being said, it probably isn't something most buyers are sad to see go since it did not offer as much as the EX trim level. Other than that, the 2021 line-up carries over from 2020, which was totally new. Given that the gas-powered CR-V is due for an overhaul in 2022, expect to see some stylistic changes to the Hybrid next year. For now, buyers will likely be content with everything that the relatively fresh-faced 2021 CR-V Hybrid has to offer.
Top 10 Reasons to Buy a 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid – The Pros
1. A Spacious Cabin
Like its gas-powered CR-V counterpart, the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid is incredibly spacious on the inside. The rear has more that enough room to house two longer-legged adults or three children. You can even fit two rear-facing child safety seats back there without having to seriously scoot the front seats forward since there is just that much room available. No one will be cramped for space anywhere in the cabin.
2. Comfortable Seats
Of course, all seats are padded for comfort - that's true Honda style. There is plenty of support from the front seats, which are power adjustable even on the base EX trim level. Lateral and lumbar support are excellent overall. Longer road trips should not be uncomfortable for anyone as the padding holds up well over time, both up front and in the rear.
3. Superb Handling Capabilities
The 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid echoes its gas-powered sister's excellent handling capabilities. Taking sharp or swooping turns is not a problem, and the CR-V shows no signs of body roll, which can be a problem for some hybrids in its segment. The CR-V Hybrid remains composed and has a suspension that dispatches road imperfections with ease, leading to an all-around well-mannered handling performance.
4. All-wheel Drive Comes Standard
All-wheel drive isn't something you find standard on all hybrids, so finding it on the CR-V Hybrid is a nice bonus. It is especially helpful if you are someone who lives in an area where inclement weather is frequent and you need the extra traction and stability. The brakes themselves do a good job of stopping, but the extra stability and traction control you get with the AWD system is noticeable.
5. Effortless Transitioning Between the Gas Engine and Electric Motor
Hybrids are not known for having smooth shifts between the electric motor and the gas engine. When the electric charge runs out and the powertrain has to switch over to the gas engine, the CR-V's shift actually feels seamless. You won't notice any hesitation on its behalf. Kudos to Honda for being one of the few automakers to really nail down this hybrid technology.
6. Smooth Brakes
We already mentioned the fact that the CR-V Hybrid has some strong brakes, but they are worth highlighting. They even best the Toyota RAV4's brakes, which are known for their smoothness and short stopping distance. The CR-V Hybrid's brakes get it from 60 mph to 0 in just 125 feet, which beats the RAV4 by a whopping 6 feet. The regenerative brakes are remarkably smooth and never falter when you have to make numerous stops around town. Their firmness holds up, just as it should.
7. Getting In and Out is Easy
Thanks to its wide door openings and just-right ride height, getting in and out of the CR-V Hybrid is easy enough for most people. Smaller children can climb in and out, and even those with limited mobility should not struggle a lot with sliding in and out of this vehicle. Accommodation is key, and the CR-V Hybrid aims to accommodate all occupants.
8. Numerous Charging Options For Your Gadgets
Our tech gadgets keep us connected to the world around us, and Honda knows we have to charge multiple devices at once. That's why the CR-V Hybrid has multiple charging options available. Up front, there are two USB ports for the driver and front seat passenger. There are also two charging ports in the rear and, if you get the Touring trim, a wireless charging pad. But most people should be fine with the four ports available on the base EX trim, which is generous by industry standards.
9. Honda Sensing
The Honda Sensing bundle takes multiple advanced driver aids and packs them into one cohesive, functional suite. In this unit, you get forward collision warning with an automatic braking function, adaptive cruise control, and lane keep assist. All of them are known to be effective without being intrusive or finicky. This bundle does come standard on every single trim level, on every single Honda vehicle. And if you don't want these features on, you can simply turn them off. If you upgrade to the EX-L, you do get blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert tacked on for good measure. It isn't really necessary since the CR-V Hybrid has a fairly commanding view, but it can prove helpful in certain situations.
10. Versatile Cargo and Small Item Storage Spaces
Looking for a lot of versatility in your storage areas? Honda nails it with both its cargo and small item storage spaces. The cargo space measures in at 33.2 cubic feet with all seats in place, which does put it behind the non-hybrid CR-V (39.2 cubes). But it is still a respectable number for a hybrid in this segment. There are a ton of clever storage options, and you can easily lower the seats.
Reasons Not to Buy a 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid – The Cons
1. Real-world Fuel Economy is Sub Par
The biggest pitfall of owning the 2021 Honda CR-V is supposed to be its greatest selling point: its fuel economy. While EPA estimates have it pegged at 38 mpg combined (with 40 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway), real-world estimates put it at closer to 31-32 mpg combined when using a conservative driving style. It seems as though the gas engine is not high-powered enough to handle a lot of stop-and-go city driving, and the electric motor does not do enough to give it a boost when going over 45 mph.
2. An Outdated Infotainment System
Here is hoping that 2022 will bring with it an update to the infotainment system, as the one that Honda put in this year is a bit outdated. When it first debuted on the CR-V in 2017, this system was sophisticated and very much current-gen. Now? Not so much. It just hasn't aged well compared to what rivals like Hyundai are offering, which are more user-friendly and better-looking.
3. Sluggish Acceleration
The engine's acceleration just isn't up to speed with what you can find in competitors. It takes 8.5 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph, clocking in a full second behind its gas-only counterpart. You also have to apply a lot of pressure while climbing a steep incline since the engine just does not generate enough power to easily make the trek. The gas engine is too under-powered to be paired up with the electric motor.
4. Excessive Wind and Road Noise
When you take it up to speed on the highway, there is a lot of noise that makes its way in from the wind and the road. The engine and transmission are remarkably silent, but they make the lack of insulation a dead giveaway at these speeds.
How It Stacks Up to the Competition:
2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid vs. 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid provides some stiff competition for the CR-V Hybrid. Its fuel economy numbers actually hold up, proving to be better than what you get on the CR-V Hybrid. The ride quality is comfortable, and the cargo area offers plenty of space. Also, it is competitively priced against the CR-V Hybrid and does not cost that much more than the non-hybrid RAV4. However, the RAV4 Hybrid has a flimsy feeling response from its brakes, and the front passenger seat is not exactly padded for the utmost in comfort. Also, its tech set-up tends to look pretty dated despite actually being fairly recent.
2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid vs. 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid
The 2021 Kia Niro Hybrid is another top contender this model year and is priced significantly below both the CR-V Hybrid and RAV4 Hybrid. The Kia Niro Hybrid offers magnificent fuel economy numbers and a plethora of both standard and optional features for the cost. There are some drawbacks though. The Kia Niro Hybrid doesn't come with AWD as even an option despite being marketed as an SUV. Also, it has less cargo space than the CR-V Hybrid (and many other rivals) and feels clunky when driven in Eco mode.
Were the 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid equipped with a stronger gas engine, we'd say this was the closest you could get to perfection on a hybrid SUV. A few tweaks clearly need to be made before that can happen, but we do like the CR-V Hybrid. It has a superb handling style and offers a lot of practicality and versatility, which is perfect when you need a capable daily driver.
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