The 2021 Honda CR-V EX-L Trim Keeps It Zesty

It doesn’t get much better than the Honda CR-V if you want a small SUV with lots of utility. The 2021 CR-V outranks the competition because of its focus on efficiency and comfort. But for better or for worse, Honda doesn’t give many freebies. 

That said, you’ll have to upgrade to get some of the most modern features. And out of all the trim levels, you might find the EX-L trim to be the most tempting. 

The base 2021 Honda CR-V LX trim gives you everything you need and nothing else 

A grey 2021 Honda CR-V driving down a road
The 2021 Honda CR-V in action | Photo via Honda

One of the main qualms people have with the CR-V is that it doesn’t come with as much tech as its class rivals. The Toyota RAV4, the Mazda CX-5, and the Subaru Forester all come with more gadgets than the CR-V does. But given the CR-V’s exceptional performance capabilities and welcoming cabin, Honda can get away with this. For now, anyway. 

The good news is that the entry-level LX trim offers lots of functionality, but it’s also pretty basic. A major highlight is that the CR-V comes with lots of driver’s aids, as Edmunds notes. The CR-V’s standard active safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, and collision mitigation braking. Automatic high beams are standard too.

Honda CR-V Interior with the back row seats folded down.
Honda CR-V cargo space | Honda

Other practical features that the LX trim has include automatic climate control and a 60/40-split folding rear seat. The front seats are manually adjustable. What makes the CR-V a real standout is the cargo space it provides. The CR-V has lots of handy storage compartments and offers up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s more than some midsize SUVs offer.

The CR-V’s EX-L trim is extra tempting for a few reasons 

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The starting price for the CR-V LX is $25,350. Spending a little extra on this SUV can give you a lot more. You may be interested in the top-level Touring trim to luxe things up. But the EX-L has so many amenities you might not feel the need to go all the way up.

The EX-L model closely matches the mid-level EX trim. As with the EX, EX-L models have push-button start, tinted rear windows, a sunroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, and a cargo cover. You also get more desirable tech. 

Close up of the CR-V's optional touschreen.
Upgraded Honda CR-V with the 7-inch touchscreen | Honda

Going for the EX-L replaces the CR-V’s standard 5-inch display screen with a 7-inch touchscreen. Additionally, the EX-L models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity; base models don’t. There are also more USB ports on the EX-L trim. 

Furthermore, stepping up to the EX-L trim replaces the CR-V’s regular four-speaker stereo with an eight-speaker audio system. You’ll also want to splurge for the EX-L model to get leather upholstery and a power liftgate. Starting price for the CR-V EX-L is $30,450. 

To hybrid or not?

A red 2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid on the countryside.
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid | Honda

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The EX-L trim level is available on the regular gas-powered CR-V and the hybridized version. Regular CR-Vs features a 190-hp turbocharged four-cylinder and a continuously variable automatic (CVT). This Honda can get up to 30 mpg overall.

 The CR-V Hybrid can get up to 38 mpg and is standard with all-wheel drive. Since the traditional CR-V is so efficient, some drivers won’t feel the need to upgrade to the hybrid. Still, the hybridized version is a worthy choice, and it comes with more extras than the gas-powered model.