Honda CR-V EX Vs EX-L: Which Trim is Right for You?

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee
2023 Honda CR-V

So, you’ve decided to purchase a brand new Honda CR-V. But which trim are you going to get? The EX or the EX-L?

Honda’s popular CR-V got a complete overhaul recently, in an effort to maintain its position near the top of the compact SUV segment. In the United States, the CR-V is available in six trims, three with a conventional gasoline engine and three with a hybrid drivetrain.

Below we are isolating two of the most poluar trims, the EX and the EX-L. We will examine how to the trims differ (or do not differ) in eight key categories. Hopefully this will help you decide which trim is the right choice.


2023 Honda CR-V

The new Honda CR-V receives what we would call evolutionary styling. From the rear, it’s quite easy to identify the new model as a CR-V. Up front, there is a larger change as the small SUV now wears a more prominent unobstructed grille and narrower headlights. Overall, the vehicle is more squared off, giving it a ruggedized look.

The EX and EX-L are nearly indistinguishable from one another on the exterior. Both have LED lights front and rear, a power moonroof, and 18-inch silver alloy wheels. The only real way to tell them apart is by the parking sensor dimples that are on the EX-L and absent from the EX. Both trims can be had in a choice of eight exterior colors.

Cabin Space

2023 Honda CR-V

Inside, the latest Honda CR-V is closely related to the new Civic and HR-V. This is a good thing as we are big fans of this new cabin design. It’s a clean, sophisticated layout that includes the honeycomb vents across the dashboard. The infotainment screen is now located on top of the dashboard instead of on the center console. Both interiors can be had with an all-black color scheme or a two-tone black and gray set-up.

Both trim levels include a power driver’s seat, but only the EX-L has a memory function as well as leather seating surfaces. In the EX-L, the front passenger also receives a power seat while the passenger seat in the EX is manually operated. The EX-L wraps leather around the gear shifter and the steering wheel – two places it is absent on the EX.

The infotainment screen in the EX is 7-inches while the EX-L receives a larger 9-inch screen. The EX-L features an 8-speaker 320-watt audio system while the EX has a 240-watt 6-speaker system. Both trims include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but only the EX-L allows drivers to operate them wirelessly. The EX-L also includes a wireless phone charger while the EX does not.

Dimensionally, there is no difference between the two vehicles inside. They both include 38.2-inches (970 mm) of headroom for front and rear passengers. Legroom is listed at 41.3 inches (1,049 mm) for front row occupants, and a generous 41.0-inches (1,042 mm) for those in the rear.


2023 Honda CR-V

Only one engine is available for both trim levels, the familiar 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It continues to develop 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. This is the same power output as the previous generation CR-V, but Honda has made improvements to low-end torque and response. The only transmission available is a continuously variable automatic.

Both the EX and EX-L come standard with front-wheel drive, with all-wheel drive as an option. Hill descent control and hill start assist are both standard on all trim levels.

Fuel Economy

2023 Honda CR-V

Fuel economy ratings are another thing that does not differ between the two trim levels. The front-wheel drive CR-Vs achieve a rating of 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) in the city and 34 mpg (7.1 L-100 km) on the highway. All-wheel drive models have official ratings of 27 mpg (9.1 L/100 km) city and 32 mpg (7.6 L/100 km) highway.

Cargo and Towing

2023 Honda CR-V Photography

Small SUVs are not overly used for towing, but the CR-V is capable of hauling small trailers. Both the EX and the EX-L are rated to haul 1,500 lbs. (680 kg) when properly equipped.

Cargo capacity has always been a CR-V strong point and the new model continues this tradition. Both trim levels offer 39.3 cubic feet (1,113 L) of cargo space behind the rear seats. Fold the back seats flat and total cargo carrying capacity rises to 76.5 cu ft. (2,166 L).

Honda CR-V EX vs EX-L: Safety

2023 Honda CR-V

Those looking to purchase the safest possible Honda CR-V will be happy to know nearly every safety technology comes standard. Both the EX and EX-L include Honda Sensing Technologies like the Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping Assist System, Forward Collision Warning, and more.

As well, a handful of driver assist features are included. Blind spot monitoring, auto high-beams, and a rear seat reminder are all equipped. The only safety difference between the two trim levels are low-speed braking control, and the parking sensors that come equipped only on the EX-L trim level.

Tech and Features

2023 Honda CR-V

As mentioned earlier, the Honda CR-V EX comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen hooked up to a six-speaker sound system. It includes features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Convenience highlights are push button start, ambient lighting, and a dual-zone climate control system.

The EX-L includes everything on the EX, but upgrades the infotainment system to a 9-inch colour touchscreen. It features SiruisXM radio, an eight-speaker audio system, wireless phone charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, and wireless Android Auto. Also added to the EX-L is a power front passenger seat, an auto dimming rearview mirror, and a power rear tail gate.

Honda CR-V EX vs EX-L: Pricing

2023 Honda CR-V

The Honda CR-V EX starts at an asking price of $33,335 after destination charges. The EX-L lists at a price of $35,985 after destination charges. Both trims can have all-wheel drive added for an additional $1,500. Four premium paint colors are available at a cost of $455. There are also a variety of protection, utility, and appearance packages that can be applied to either trim. Pricing runs from $393 to $1,780 depending on package.

In Canada the LX-B 2WD starts at a price of $37,125 after destination charges. The LX comes with less features than the American EX. An all-wheel drive version of the LX-B is also available in Canada for a price of $39,925. The Sport trim level, which is similar to the American EX, includes all-wheel drive as standard equipment in Canada. It has a listing price of $44,075 after destination charges. The EX-L also includes all-wheel drive in Canada and comes in at $46,275.

Honda CR-V EX vs EX-L: Verdict

On the surface, it doesn't appear there's a whole lot that separates the EX from the EX-L. The EX comes standard with a lot of great convenience and comfort features, and virtually all the safety equipment found the EX-L. The EX-L does include additional comfort and convenience features though, some which can be deal breakers if not included.

The question really comes down to whether the extra $2,650 in asking price is worth the added content in the EX-L. In our opinion it is.

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Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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2 of 6 comments
  • Veronica Spann Veronica Spann on Jun 18, 2023

    Possibly looking for a CRV EX OR EXL AROUND 1st Of October of the middle of October. What is the average down payment without a trade in?

  • Nauticalone Nauticalone on Sep 26, 2023

    I'm surprised this doesn't have parking sensors at the EX trim level. I live in the Caribbean and wouldn't think of buying a new vehicle with leather and no AC ventilation for the seats. For this class I'd prefer cloth seats but also parking sensors!