The 2020 vs. the 2021 CR-V: Which Is the Better Buy?

The CR-V is one of Honda’s best-selling vehicles and arguably one of the best-selling SUVs across the segment. The 2021 Honda CR-V is now available at dealerships, but the 2020 model isn’t exactly old news. In fact, the two CR-V models are so similar that you might wonder which one to buy.

The 2020 Honda CR-V vs. the 2021 model: What’s new

The 2021 Honda CR-V is now available for purchase, but if shoppers expect a brand-new CR-V, they’ll be disappointed. That’s because the new CR-V isn’t much different from the 2020 model, which can still be purchased new. According to Cars.com, the 2021 Honda CR-V comes with no significant changes over its 2020 predecessor. The 2020 model year saw the addition of the hybrid to the lineup; the 2021 lineup stays the same except for the removal of the hybrid CR-V’s base trim.

Aside from a minor change in the hybrid CR-V’s trim levels, the 2021 model “carries over without any changes save a small price bump,” Cars.com reports. New pricing suggests the 2021 Honda CR-V costs about $200 to $300 more than the 2020 model year’s base price depending on trim level.

What you’ll get with both the 2020 and 2021 CR-V

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The 2020 and 2021 Honda CR-V are available in four trim levels, with standard front-wheel drive and available all-wheel drive for all models. The 2021 CR-V Hybrid loses its base trim, leaving just three total trim levels and, therefore, a higher starting price over the base 2020 hybrid.

According to U.S. News, the 2020 Honda CR-V saw some significant changes, which carry on to the 2021 model. These changes include exterior styling tweaks, standard Honda Sensing safety features across all trims, and the introduction of its standard turbocharged engine. The 2020 and the 2021 Honda CR-V feature a smooth, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 190 hp, paired with a CVT. The CR-V Hybrid comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and two-motor system, with a total of 212 hp.

Gas-model, base-level CR-Vs come with standard features such as a five-inch infotainment screen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, and the Honda Sensing suite of safety features. This includes collision-mitigation braking, traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and road departure warning.

To get a touchscreen infotainment system, you’ll need to step up one trim level from the LX to the EX, which features a standard seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated front seats, a moonroof, and additional safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert. The EX model is the base trim for 2021 hybrid models.

Powertrains have been left unchanged, so fuel economy for both models years also remains unchanged. According to Car and Driver, the CR-V offers some of the most impressive fuel-economy ratings of its class, with the gas-only 2021 Honda CR-V earning up to 28 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. The hybrid CR-V earns an estimated 40 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.

Which CR-V should you buy?

The 2021 Honda CR-V is the newest version of this impressive SUV, but the 2020 model might bring new owners the best value. With most features and specifications remaining the same between the two model years, the older and less expensive 2020 CR-V is the better value. This is especially true when considering that most 2020 models can still be purchased as new models. Even Cars.com experts say you should choose the 2020 model “to avoid the small price hike.”