Is the 2021 Honda CR-V EX Worth $2,500 Over the CR-V LX?

The Honda CR-V consistently continues to outshine rivals in a crowded segment. Drivers appreciate its spacious accommodations and outstanding reliability. As of 2020, the base CR-V also got a full suite of advanced safety features, making it a great value.

The entry-level Honda CR-V LX retails for $25,350, plus an extra $1,500 if you want all-wheel drive. Three other trims are offered, including a luxurious Touring model starting at $33,650. However, if you want just a few standard amenities, the CR-V EX — the next trim level up from the LX — will probably suit your needs.

What comes standard on a Honda CR-V LX?

According to Honda‘s website, every CR-V comes with a 1.5-liter turbo-four capable of 190 hp and paired with a continuously variable transmission. This powertrain generally gets good reviews, and Car and Driver says the CVT is one of the best in the segment. It also gets excellent gas mileage, up to 28/34 mpg city/highway.

Inside, the Honda CR-V LX base model seats up to five passengers on standard cloth upholstery. Riders can enjoy automatic climate control, and the driver’s seat comes with a manual adjustability lever but no lumbar support adjuster. Passengers have plenty of room in the backseat, and the cargo hold provides almost 76 cubic feet of space.

The Honda Sensing safety suite comes with lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic high-beams, and automatic emergency braking. Front/rear parking sensors can also be added for an extra charge, but speed-sensitive volume control is standard. Disappointingly, the Honda CR-V LX falls a little short in infotainment features.

It comes with Bluetooth, one USB port, a 12-volt power outlet, and a five-inch digital display (not a touchscreen) for audio functions. It’s slim pickings and a poor value compared with other compact SUVs. Despite being cheaper than the CR-V, the standard Kia Sportage includes smartphone integration and voice recognition, plus an eight-inch touchscreen.

The Honda CR-V EX’s features

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The Honda CR-V EX —the next trim level up from the base model — comes with more tech. That includes a much-appreciated seven-inch touchscreen. It comes programmed with smartphone integration, plus HD and satellite radio. The sound system also comes with two additional speakers and three more USB ports than the LX. 

However, Consumer Reports testers were disappointed with the infotainment system’s overall usability. Audio settings are the only things that can be controlled with a physical button. CR says the infotainment systems touchscreen menus are often redundant and even conceal essential functions. Though not unusable, it demands a bit of a learning curve.

On the plus side, CR’s testers liked their EX model’s interior. Most interior components fit nicely, and riders can also enjoy a moonroof. The CR-V EX still has cloth seats, but they’re heated.

The Honda CR-V EX offers the same collection of safety features as the LX, plus rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring. Its rearview camera also comes with dynamic guidelines, automatically adjusting depending on the tires’ direction. LED foglights and heated side mirrors are also included in this trim.

One big plus the EX trim offers over the base model is its 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with four-way adjustable lumbar support.

Should you upgrade from LX to EX?

The Honda CR-V EX retails for $27,860. For the extra tech features and safety equipment, it’s not really that expensive of an upgrade over the entry-level LX. However, you could probably find the same tech cheaper rivals.

However, those other vehicles might not boast the same dependability as a Honda CR-V. It’s one of the best compact SUVs in terms of overall space and base engine power. Its lack of standard tech is a letdown, but even the base LX is still a great choice.