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

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 compact SUV is all-new this year and looks to gain ground on increasingly tough competition. To help streamline the model, just two trims are available at launch in the United States, the EX and EX-L. In Canada, there’s a bit more choice as the lineup consists of the LX, Sport, and EX-L.

Get a Quote on a New 2023 Honda CR-V

Below 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. Please note, for the purposes of this comparison we are not including the various CR-V Hybrid variants. 

Style

For 2023 the 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. 

SEE ALSO: 2023 Honda CR-V is Bigger, More Premium, and More Powerful

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

Inside, the 2023 Honda CR-V receives cabin styling that will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s spend time in a 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 trim levels include a power driver’s seat, but only the EX-L has a memory function as well as leather seating surfaces. The EX-L also 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. Both interiors can be had with an all-black color scheme or a two-tone black and gray set-up. 

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. 

Powertrain

Only one engine is available throughout the lineup, 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. 

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Fuel Economy

Fuel economy ratings are another thing that does not differ between the two trim levels. All 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. 

SEE ALSO: Honda CR-V vs Honda HR-V: Which Crossover is Right for You?

Cargo and Towing

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

Those looking to purchase the safest possible Honda CR-V will be happy to know all 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, a rear seat reminder, and low-speed braking control are all equipped. The only real safety difference between the two trim levels are the parking sensors that come equipped only on the EX-L trim level. 

Tech and Features

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. 

SEE ALSO: Best Small SUV | Testing (almost) Every Compact SUV

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

The Honda CR-V EX starts at an asking price of $32,355 after destination charges. The EX-L lists at a price of $35,005 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 $395. 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 2WD starts at a price of $36,740 after destination charges. The LX comes with less features than the American EX. An all-wheel drive version of the LX is also available in Canada for a price of $39,540. 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 $43,440 after destination charges. The EX-L also includes all-wheel drive in Canada and comes in at $45,340. 

Honda CR-V EX vs EX-L: Verdict

With Honda’s two-trim strategy, there isn’t 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.

We hope this comparison helps in your purchasing decision.

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2 Comments

Karen Pellizzer says:

I want an EXL with AWD sand leather seats. I do Not want a white water and I do not want a black interior.

Even Steven says:

Karen, please calm down.