2020 vs 2021: What's the Difference?
Although we are only months away from the redesigned 2022 Honda CR-V, the 2020 and 2021 models are some of the best in their segment. The redesigned CR-V will likely bring us some cool upgrades, potentially including Asia's well-loved Golden Brown Metallic paint color. There might even be an adaptive suspension in the works so as to improve the vehicle's off-roading prowess.
For now, the 2020 and 2021 Honda CR-V carry this nameplate with distinction. The CR-V is revered as one of Honda's greatest achievements - and for a multitude of good reasons. These two model years are part of the fifth generation, which kicked off in 2017. They both combine powerful engines with high fuel efficiency plus a versatile interior design that maximizes usable space.
Their drawback? The infotainment system. It has a finicky touchscreen controller that can be difficult to use while driving. A physical knob would cut it a lot better. You will also have to deal with a max towing capacity that is less than many of the CR-V's rivals. However, that is something that could change in 2022.
Should you get a 2020 or 2021 CR-V, or should you wait for Honda to roll out the overhauled 2022 line-up? Let's go over the current gen's trim levels, tech and interior specs, performance capabilities, safety and reliability ratings, and a few of the CR-V's competitors.
What Do the Various Trim Levels Offer?
The current CR-V comes in your choice of four varied trim levels: the base trim known as the LX, EX, its variant known as the EX-L, and the line-topping Touring. Each of these trim levels comes with standard front-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is also an option for every trim. You can even opt for a hybrid if you want one.
The base LX is powered by a standard turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 190 hp. It gets paired up with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT). A 4-speaker sound system, automatic climate control, manually adjustable front seats and 60/40-split folding rear seats come included. Honda Sensing (a bundle of standard driver aids) gives you forward collision warning, automatic high beams, lane departure warning, collision mitigation braking, and adaptive cruise control.
The EX trim level makes quite a few additions, most notably being the blind spot monitoring system with a rear cross-traffic alert. You also get treated to a sunroof, tinted rear windows, a push button start with the keyless entry system, a cargo cover, dual-zone automatic climate control, extra USB ports, smartphone app integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 7-inch touchscreen display, heated front seats, and power adjustability on the driver's seat.
The EX-L ups the ante with an 8-speaker sound system and power adjustability on the front passenger's seat. Leather upholstery is standard, as are an auto-dimming rear-view mirror and a power liftgate.
If you go for the line-topping Touring trim level, you will get a 9-speaker sound system, a wireless phone charger, built-in navigation, LED headlights, and roof rails.
Which Trim is Right for Me?
The EX should suit most people's needs. The LX feels somewhat basic, and the EX-L and Touring don't really add enough to justify the price tag jumps. The EX hits the sweet spot though, offering just enough standard features for the price.
What Kind of Technology Does it Have?
Technology is industry average here. You get Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming regardless of which trim level you choose, and smartphone app integration comes on everything above the LX. Two more USB ports get added to the rear of the two line-topping trims, which is a big-time bonus for occupants back there. Some of the touchscreen menus are finicky, but the built-in navigation does give you a crystal-clear read-out.
How Does It Perform?
The CR-V is not exactly the fastest vehicle out there with an acceleration time from 0 to 60 mph of 8.2 seconds. But is it good for this segment? Definitely. The turbo engine gives a nice thrust of power upon start-up, and you can easily get this vehicle up to speed on the highway and pass others without a hassle. CVTs don't usually have the smoothest power delivery, but after decades of using them, Honda seems to have theirs down to a science. Honda's CVTs have an infinite number of gears, which allows for both smooth power delivery and good fuel efficiency.
As far as handling and steering go, it is hard to find anything better in this segment. They both inspire driver confidence - the steering with its precision and the handling with its composure while rounding through turns of all kinds.
You can also expect a smooth, quiet, comfortable ride from the CR-V. Its suspension is adept at dispatching bumps and road imperfections, and hardly any noise makes its way into the cabins, even at highway speeds.
Is It Safe and Reliable?
Hondas are renowned for both safety and reliability, and the CR-V is no exception. It ranks above-average for reliability as indicated by consumer reviews. Also, NHTSA has given the 2021 CR-V a full five stars overall on its safety assessment, and IIHS has rated it "Good" on its tests.
What's the Interior Like?
The interior of the CR-V is all about practicality meshed with versatility. The front seats are easy to adjust (as is the tilting and telescoping steering wheel), and you get a clear view all around the vehicle. The only downside is - like we already said - the controls for the touchscreen. They're clunky and distracting. Otherwise, everything is laid out intuitively along the dash. Bonus: the seats are absolutely padded for comfort, both up front and in the back.
What are the Alternatives to this Model?
If you want to try a few other makes and models, we recommend looking into the Mazda CX-5. This vehicle is a close second to the CR-V with its sporty handling and high-quality interior design. We just wish that it had as much storage and versatility. We'd also look into the Toyota RAV4, which offers a quiet ride and almost as much cargo space as the CR-V.
Note: All Honda CR-V lease prices and dollar figures above are approximate amounts. Prices are subject to change without notice.