The 2021 Kia Sportage Outshines the 2021 Honda CR-V In a Surprising Way

The Honda CR-V is a leader in the compact SUV class. This Honda easily outsells a few of its classmates, including the Kia Sportage. But even though the CR-V is the more popular choice, you’ll see that the Sportage has a clear advantage for 2021.

Driving the 2021 Honda CR-V vs. the 2021 Kia Sportage

The 2021 Honda CR-V Touring in a city
2021 Honda CR-V Touring | Honda

Both the CR-V and the Sportage get credit for being among the most agile in the compact SUV class. However, the CR-V gets more points for its refinement, liveliness, and fuel efficiency. All CR-Vs come with a 190-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder. A continuously variable automatic (CVT) is standard. You have the choice between front- or all-wheel drive. 

Critics love that the CR-V’s CVT acts like a traditional automatic. Plus, this Honda is one of the most eco-friendly SUVs. Regular CR-Vs have an EPA rating of 30 mpg overall; AWD only reduces fuel economy by a point. The CR-V Hybrid can get a combined 38 mpg.

A dark-red 2021 Kia Sportage crossover SUV drives on a dusty road
2021 Kia Sportage | Kia Motors America

On the other hand, the Sportage is below the class average for fuel-efficiency. Standard Sportages have a 181-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Models with this engine can get up to 26 mpg overall’; opting for AWD makes matters worse.

The main downside is that the standard four-cylinder can feel underpowered at higher speeds. Because of this, you might want to consider the Sportage’s optional 240-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder. Both engine options come with a six-speed automatic. 

Comparing car cabins 

2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid cargo space with seats folded flat
2020 Honda CR-V Hybrid

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The CR-V and the Sportage are comfortable five-seaters. Although, critics favor the CR-V for its slightly more upscale-looking cabin and above-average cargo space. The Sportage’s storage space is subpar. The CR-V provides up to 75.8 cubic feet of cargo room with the rear seats folded down; Sportages have up to 60.1 cubic feet of space. 

Both the CR-V and Sportage come with cloth upholstery. You can customize either model with frills such as leather plus heated and cooled seats. These SUVs are also good choices if you value active safety equipment. The CR-V and the Sportage come with gadgets including forward-collision warning and lane departure warning. One extra the CR-V has here is the road departure mitigation function.

Steering wheel area of the Kia Sportage.
Kia Sportage cockpit area | CarBuzz

The Sportage does come with more infotainment features than the CR-V. Standard infotainment features for the Sportage include an intuitive 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The base CR-V has a 5-inch display screen and Bluetooth. You have to upgrade your CR-V to get a 7-inch touchscreen with smartphone integration apps. 

The surprising way the 2021 Kia Sportage bests the 2021 Honda CR-V 

A red Kia Sportage on display at an auto show
Kia Sportage | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

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The 2021 CR-V begins at $25,350, and the 2021 Sportage starts at $23,990. Honda models are known for their dependability. The CR-V is among those that can last you up to 200,000 miles or more. For 2021, Consumer Reports gave the CR-V a four out of five for predicted reliability.

CR gave the 2021 Sportage a slightly higher reliability rating with a perfect five out of five score. The only other small SUV to get such an impressive grade in this department is the 2021 Mazda CX-5. Still, the CR team considers the CR-V as the more satisfying option over the Sportage.