The 2021 Honda CR-V is an impressive compact SUV. Though it’s not a standout in any particular area, it’s one of the most well-rounded vehicles on the market. The CR-V offers four trims and various options packages. The second trim level, the EX, adds a few additional amenities over the base model, while the third trim, the EX-L, adds a few more bells and whistles.
But how much of a difference is there between the EX and EX-L? And is that difference worth $2,590?
The Honda CR-V EX
Like all CR-V trims, the EX model comes with a 1.5-liter turbo-four engine producing 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque, according to Honda. It also has a continuously variable transmission and a choice of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. Its fuel economy is 27-28 mpg in the city and 32-34 mpg on the highway and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds.
The CR-V EX trim also comes standard with a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 180-watt, six-speaker sound system. And like all CR-V trims, this model also boasts a spacious cabin with plenty of legroom and headroom, along with generous cargo space.
Other upgraded interior features that are standard on the EX include heated front seats, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, SiriusXM Satellite Radio capability, a dual-zone climate control system, and a push-button start.
Exterior amenities that are standard on the EX are a security system, moonroof, LED fog lights, 18-inch alloy wheels (rather than the 17-inch ones on the base model), and a security system.
And all trims come with advanced features such as lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control.
The CR-V EX trim starts at $27,860.
The Honda CR-V EX-L
However, for a couple of thousand dollars extra, you can upgrade to the Honda CR-V EX-L. It sets itself apart mainly through additional interior features rather than better performance.
Rather than the EX’s six-speaker sound system, the EX-L comes standard with an eight-speaker audio system. It also comes with a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an automatic-dimming rearview mirror, leather-trimmed seats, and a four-way power-adjustable front passenger’s seat. The hybrid EX-L also boasts ambient lighting.
The EX-L also comes with a power liftgate, but other exterior options, such as roof rails and dual chrome exhaust finishers, are reserved for the most expensive trim, the Touring. Additional features, such as the infotainment system, seating capacity, rear privacy glass, and security system, all come standard on both the EX and EX-L.
The EX-L’s MSRP is $31,625, nearly $2,600 more than the EX. The price difference between the EX Hybrid ($31,735) and EX-L Hybrid ($34,825) is roughly the same. But considering the EX-L’s features, is it worth the bigger sticker price?
Is the EX-L worth the extra expense?
The answer is probably not. There aren’t enough cool or unique features on the Honda CR-V EL-L trim to justify spending nearly $3,000 over the EX model. If you want to upgrade, you might as well spend the extra $5,000 for the Touring, providing compelling trim-specific features.
Starting at $33,650, the Touring model comes with a voice recognition-controlled navigation system, a nine-speaker sound system, and a wireless phone charger. Ambient lighting also comes on the gas and hybrid versions. The aforementioned roof rails and dual chrome exhaust finishers, along with parking sensors and a hands-free access power liftgate, also come with the CR-V’s premium trim.
Ultimately, most consumers aren’t purchasing the Honda CR-V for a luxury experience. They’re looking for an affordable, safe, and reliable SUV for everyday use. If you buy a Honda CR-V, the EX trim is a good buy for its extra features. But the EX-L doesn’t offer enough exciting extras to justify the additional cost.