2021 Honda CR-V Sport
This week’s tester is one of the bestselling SUVs in Canada, 2021 Honda CR-V. It may not be the newest addition to the crossover segment, in fact, it is one of the first entries that created the SUV craziness starting in the 1990s. After several generations, Honda CR-V is still one of the most important models in Honda’s model lineup.
The current (5th) generation Honda CR-V was unveiled in 2016, and it was available in 2017. It was refreshed in 2019 and a new generation CR-V will be available in the next few years. As of 2021, it is one of the older entries but still can keep up with the competition. Let’s see what’s behind the success of the Honda CR-V and how it can still keep up.
Exterior and Interior
Although it is recently refreshed in 2019, for many people there are no significant changes. It’s definitely not a heavy facelift and for the untrained eye, it looks essentially the same car. Basically, it has an updated front rear bumper with slightly revised headlights, different rims and a front grille, aside from this beautiful gray colour that we start to see almost every other SUV.
Either way, I think it is still one of the best-looking compact crossovers, despite its age. The huge front grille in the front makes the car look bigger than it actually is. As this is a Sport trim, it does not come with LED headlights like the Touring model, so you get different-looking headlights.
Like the front end, things are not changed too much in the rear, you still get typical CR-V design elements. Big taillights, huge chrome piece in the center, a wide and tall tailgate that goes all the way down, and an unpainted rear bumper. Exhaust tips are 100% real, which makes the CR-V look sportier. I think overall it is one of the better-looking compact SUVs on the market, despite being one of the older ones.
As a compact SUV, CR-V does a great job offering both comfort and practicality in one package. Honda CR-V has always been known as a function over form vehicle, and as a result, the interior design may not look the most attractive. However, that means it offers a tremendous amount of versatility and flexibility. Overall build quality is nice, lots of soft-touch plastics all around the console, as well as leather dashboard makes it look upscale.
One of the most significant design features is that the shifter column is located right on the dashboard, instead of a center console. That means you have more storage space all around the center console. When you look around the shifter, you see that CR-V comes with a brake hold and auto start-stop system, which is rare in this segment and price point.
The practical and versatile design also continues in the rear seat, as it is one of the best in terms of overall legroom and headroom. It also has rear vents and two USB ports for your smartphone or tablet. Getting in and out is extremely easy, as the rear doors open almost 90 degrees which makes it super easy to install child seats.
Honda CR-V has always been the top choice for buyers who prioritize cargo accommodation, and it is still the same. You get 39.2 cubic feet (1110 lt) of cargo space behind the rear seats, and it goes up to 75.8 cubic feet (2147 lt) if you fold down the rear seats. What’s even more impressive is that the loading floor is pretty low and it is easy to put heavy items. Also, vertical storage space is very impressive, beats almost every other entry in this segment.
Engine and Drivetrain
2021 Honda CR-V Sport comes with only one engine and transmission option. The engine is a 1.5-litre turbocharged direct-injected gasoline engine that produces 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. This engine has been on the market for several years and Honda fine-tuned it in the last few years to make it more reliable. It seems that after the model year of 2019, there are no significant fuel dilution issues.
The engine may not be the most refined engine, as you hear a lot of ticking noise coming from the drivetrain, there aren’t many turbocharged options. This engine has so much torque in the mid-range, you don’t have to rev it over 3500 rpm to move, as the turbo spools are as low as 1500 rpm. As a result, you get great fuel economy numbers, and our tests showed an average result of 8.5L / 100 km.
Of course, continuously variable transmission (CVT) helps a lot in keeping the fuel economy numbers low. Although they are not the most fun type of transmission, they offer great driving comfort and smoothness. CR-V’s CVT is no exception, it’s tuned very well and Honda is one of the earlier brands that implemented the CVT in their model lineup not only with CR-V but other models since the beginning of the 2000s.
All Wheel Drive does not come standard with the absolute base trim, but it is standard with the Sport trim. It does not offer any off-road mode or downhill brake control. Even this one shows that it is not engineered for any kind of off-road activity, but it is pretty capable for bad weather type of situations. You will not get the torque-vectoring AWD system that you find in some Acura models.
Driving Impressions and Features
Like many other compact SUVs, the 2021 Honda CR-V offers boring driving dynamics, as it solely focuses on practicality and comfort while still being super easy to drive day-to-day basis. There is a reason why CR-V is still one of the best-selling entries, it offers one of the most practical SUVs with great fuel economy.
That being said, compared to previous generation CR-V, it feels much more planted and gives car-like driving feedback at high-speed turns. The steering feels numb as expected, but driving wise it feels much more upscale than SUVs from 10 years ago. Sport trim has 19″ wheels instead of 18″, and as a result, you get a little bit less refined ride.
We usually get the top trim of almost all vehicles, but this time we have the mid-trim called Sport. It does not have fancy features such as LED headlights, wireless charging or leather seats, but has many essential and useful features such as adaptive cruise control, brake hold, power tailgate, push-button start and dual-zone climate control. I believe Sport trim is the sweet spot in terms of pricing and overall features.
Though the CR-V is recently updated, it still has the old-looking infotainment system that makes it look like it belongs to the 2010 era. The 7-inch screen has huge bezels all around and the software is clunky. It takes a lot of time to start, and even with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, it’s not the smoothest experience.
Pricing and the Verdict
2021 Honda CR-V is one of the oldest contenders in the SUV segment, but it has never been the bargain option. Most of the time, the CR-V name sells for itself, as it always has the things that SUV buyers are looking for. It’s always practical, easy to drive, reliable and the 2021 Honda CR-V is no exception. With the Sport trim, Honda wanted to add a little bit better value as the current model gets older and competition gets more intense.
New generation CR-V will probably be ready in the next few years, but till that day comes I think current-gen is still one of the best options in the market if you prioritize overall space, build quality and good fuel economy. 2021 Honda CR-V starts at $29,220 with a front-wheel-drive option, and Sport trim is priced at $36,670. If you want the top trim, Black Edition is available at $43,120.
For more details, please visit www.honda.ca