2021 Honda CR-V vs Kia Sportage
If you are in the market for a new small crossover SUV this year, you might have started building a list of vehicles you would like to test drive. And if you have not already done so, make sure that you add the 2021 Honda CR-V and 2021 Kia Sportage to that list. But which one is the better vehicle? Hang with us throughout this review to get that answer.
First, some crucial details surrounding the CR-V and the Sportage. The 2021 Honda CR-V continues the CR-V's trend of being the top-rated vehicle in this segment. And, really, it is no wonder why that is the case. Just check out the CR-V's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. This turbo engine is equipped on every single trim level, and it produces a power output of 190 horsepower. On a front-wheel drive model, you get 30 miles per gallon combined. An all-wheel drive variant only takes it down a notch to 29 mpg combined. This sure does make it easy to justify adding AWD. Either way, this engine provides a solid balance between power and fuel efficiency, topping virtually every other rival in its class.
Another great thing about the CR-V is its spacious design. The cabin feels positively cavernous once you slip inside of it. Take a seat anywhere; there is plenty of room to spare. And the cargo capacity tops out at 75.8 cubic feet when you fold the rear seats down. When you leave them up, you get a very respectable 39.2 cubes. There are also plenty of options for how you can store your cargo back there. Versatility is the name of the game, and Honda adds all kinds of well-sized, well-placed small item storage areas throughout the CR-V.
As for the ride itself, things cannot get much smoother and more comfortable than this. The suspension is compliant, tuned for the utmost in comfort. Small bumps are easily dispatched, even on the Touring trim level's 19-inch wheels with their shorter tire sidewalls. For a crossover SUV, the handling is sporty and - dare we say it - invigorating.
There are, of course, a few issues to be taken with the CR-V. Towing capacity sits at a sub par 1,500 pounds, whereas most vehicles in this segment can tow up to 3,500 pounds. In other words, do not plan on towing anything beyond a small camper. Also, you will have to put up with a fussy infotainment touchscreen display. It does not even have a separate control knob, which makes it all the more frustrating to use. But, let us assure you, these are minor gripes. We really do like the CR-V, as many folks seem to as well.
But the 2021 Kia Sportage is certainly a formidable opponent for the CR-V. It is smooth and compliant in terms of its ride quality. Inside of the cabin, you get plenty of space for stretching out and finding a good seating position behind the steering wheel. The dashboard is quite attractive to look at and absolutely functional to use. Every control feels intuitive and is clearly labeled. The cabin remains well muted even at highway speeds.
The Sportage's issues lie predominantly with its bland engine and how sub par of a fuel economy it provides. Compared to the CR-V's turbo engine, the Sportage's 2.4-L 4-cylinder is pretty dull. You will also have to struggle to fit bulkier cargo into the trunk as its space is somewhat limited.
A good powertrain can make the driving experience all the more pleasant. A bad one can make driving feel like a chore. Since drivers want to enjoy being behind the wheel, knowing what kind of power output to expect is important when buying a vehicle.
As we briefly touched on above, the 2021 Honda CR-V is powered by a standard turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that puts forth 190 hp. It is the only engine available on the CR-V, but in this case, having no other option is not a bad thing. This engine provides plenty of power, which gets delivered to the front or all four wheels via a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT for short). CVTs are oriented for fuel efficiency, and Honda has been utilizing them for decades. CVTs aren't always particularly strong, but Honda has theirs down to a science. This CVT provides a smooth delivery of power without showing signs of hesitation.
As for the 2021 Kia Sportage, its base is a 2.4-L 4-cylinder engine is not turbocharged and puts out 181 hp. There is an optional 2.0-L turbo engine that produces 240 hp, but it struggles to accelerate as swiftly as the CR-V's turbo engine. It gets from 0 to 60 mph in about 9 seconds flat, a full .8 seconds behind the CR-V. There is a 6-speed automatic transmission that comes equipped, and you can choose between front- or all-wheel drive.
What makes a vehicle drivable? Many things, honestly. From its ability to accelerate quickly to how well it provides comfort and entertainment, drivability is something to consider when test-driving a potential purchase.
Take the 2021 Honda CR-V for example. The CR-V's engine is able to get it moving up to 60 miles per hour in 8.2 seconds. It might not seem like an impressive time, but the way that the engine responds to your inputs is swift for this segment. Steering and handling are also standouts on the CR-V, helping it round through turns with ease. Steering provides plenty of feedback and keeps you feeling connected with the roadway you are driving on.
The ride quality is quiet and smooth. A little bit of wind and tire noise seep into the cabin at higher rates of speed, but they are kept to a minimum. The engine only makes a pleasing growl when pushed to full throttle, otherwise remaining tranquil. The seats provide plenty of support both fore and aft, and the rear seatbacks have a slight reclining capability that offers some extra comfort to their occupants. There are also rear HVAC vents that distribute air flow to those in the back.
Getting in and out of the CR-V is relatively easy, and finding plenty of adjustability behind the wheel is simple too. The tilting and telescoping steering wheel offers plenty of adjustment, as does the driver's seat itself. Overall, you can fit four adults inside of the cabin without anyone feeling cramped. The controls are really the only glaring issue in the cabin. The physical controls are intuitive enough, but everything that is allocated to the touchscreen is difficult to use. The on-screen buttons are small and hard to push down on while driving. A bit of sunlight will also have the digital temperature fuel gauge area casting glare all over the place.
Tech-wise, the CR-V is decent. There is standard smartphone app integration and Bluetooth pairing. The menus for the navigation system are kind of clunky, and the voice controls are not that user-friendly. At least the higher trim levels come with rear USB ports.
So, how does the 2021 Kia Sportage stack up in terms of drivability? As we have already glossed over, the Sportage's base engine is completely sluggish, and the optional (and more expensive) turbocharged engine does not do much better. The 6-speed automatic might be something of a hindrance. The brake pedal is also somewhat soft, and we would like a bit more firmness. The suspension does also get a bit jittery on rougher road surfaces, although it remains well mannered otherwise. Steering feels somewhat vague though, and that keeps the Sportage from feeling sporty.
The front seats offer plenty of lateral and lumbar support, keeping you comfortable for hours on end. Climate control keeps the cabin at a comfy temperature, and exterior noise stays to a minimum. There is too much bounce when going over bumps at high speeds. It can sometimes make you feel like you are driving a boat and not a SUV.
For a vehicle in its segment, the Sportage has some high quality materials adorning its cabin. There is, however, a lack of head room for passengers in the rear seats due to the sloping roofline. Still, getting in and out is relatively effortless. Controls are all clearly labeled and placed within the driver's reach. Some of them just look too similar, so you will have to read their labels first and get used to them.
Tech features are mostly fantastic. The Sportage has a user-friendly infotainment touchscreen display. The optional upgraded sound system is probably one of the best you can buy in this segment. Subscribing to Kia's Uvo services can vastly improve the way the voice controls work and offers a lot of other handy bonuses.
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Safety is paramount for Honda and Kia alike. Both vehicles come equipped with bundles of standard driver aids aimed at reducing the risk of collisions and keeping occupants safe overall. The 2021 Honda CR-V comes equipped with the Honda Sensing suite of driver aids. This includes forward collision warning, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking (which applies the brakes if the system detects an impending crash and that you will not be able to apply the brakes yourself in time to prevent it), lane keep assist (which will guide you back into your intended lane if the CR-V drifts over the line), automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control (which sets a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of the CR-V).
The CR-V's driver aids tend to work well. The only issue is that the collision mitigation system sometimes issues false warnings. Other than that, everything is effective and efficient.
The 2021 Kia Sportage is similarly equipped. Lane keep assist is the only feature that is known to have issues, as it sometimes misreads the lane markers and fails to provide sufficient steering assist when needed. Standard driver aids include a driver attention monitor, lane departure warning, and forward collision mitigation. Upgrading to the S trim adds blind spot monitoring, and the line-topping SX Turbo adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go technology.
Which Has the Best Value?
While the 2021 Kia Sportage has the more functional infotainment set-up, the 2021 Honda CR-V has the most value overall. You get a strong standard engine and a huge list of features for a decent price. And, of course, there is a better return on fuel, which will reflect in the long-run when you go to the fuel pump.
Which is Better?
Overall, the 2021 Honda CR-V is the better vehicle. In fact, it lives up to the hype of being the best small crossover SUV. Reliability and safety are at the core of its attraction, but you sure do get a lot of comfort and convenience from this vehicle.
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