This battle of compact SUVs pits the 2021 Kia Sportage against the 2021 Honda CR-V. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Kia Sportage
2021 Kia Sportage starting price: $24,090
Above average: Sporty handling; powerful turbocharged engine option; handsome interior; long warranty.
Below average: Cargo space versus segment rivals; fuel economy.
Consensus: The 2021 Kia 000270, -2.90% Sportage appeals with its long list of features and high-quality cabin. The base engine is adequate but the turbo upgrade brings more punch and a sportier suspension. Skip the lower trims to get a full complement of driver-assist features.
2021 Honda CR-V
2021 Honda CR-V starting price: $26,120
Above average: Available hybrid version; roomy interior; Honda’s HMC, -0.10% stellar reliability and high resale value.
Below average: Entry-level model is missing basics like Apple AAPL, -0.07% CarPlay; infotainment is not so user-friendly.
Consensus: The 2021 Honda CR-V earns kudos for its fuel efficiency, spacious accommodations, and impressive resale value. The addition of a hybrid model expands the appeal to those looking for greater fuel economy.
Sportage vs. CR-V: compact favorites
The Kia Sportage wedges between the new-for-2021 Seltos and the larger Sorento in Kia’s SUV-crowded lineup. Compared with its siblings, the Sportage skews a shade, well, sportier, with handling that’s more engaging than the segment norm. The base 2.4-liter engine has a perfectly adequate 181 horsepower, but the available turbo’s 240 horses make it genuinely quick — too bad it’s reserved for the pricey top trim. Both engines pair with a 6-speed automatic and front- or all-wheel drive.
The Sportage’s cabin is handsome, controls are well laid out, and the 8-inch infotainment system is easy to use. Luggage space, though, is less than most rivals. Four trim levels are offered: LX, S, EX, and SX Turbo. The LX includes forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keep assist, but blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert arrive with the S model. The EX gets a power driver’s seat, heated seats, and a power liftgate. In addition to the engine upgrade, the SX Turbo gets a sportier suspension, a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch wheels, leather, and more, but it’s a big $6,000-plus jump in price over the EX.
The secret to the Honda CR-V’s popularity is that it does nearly everything well. A 190-horsepower 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine hooked to a well-programmed continuously variable transmission (CVT) provides adequate acceleration and good fuel economy: 30 mpg with front-wheel drive and 29 mpg with AWD (an option on all trims). Or choose the CR-V Hybrid with standard AWD and 212 horsepower, which returns 38 mpg and as a bonus is smoother and more refined. Either version offers a pleasant ride and capable handling.
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The interior is among the segment’s most spacious, if not the most luxurious. All CR-Vs save for the base trim get a 7-in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, although more buttons and a tuning knob would be welcome. Standard driver assists include forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-keeping, and adaptive cruise control, but blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert aren’t on the base LX.
Base engine horsepower, NHTSA 5-star safety rating.
2021 Kia Sportage advantages
Optional turbocharged engine; sportier handling; nicer interior; longer warranty.
2021 Honda CR-V advantages
Available hybrid; better fuel economy; more interior room; reputation for reliability; resale value.
Which one is right for me?
The 2021 Kia Sportage combines an upscale interior with engaging handling. Add the optional turbo engine and the 6-speed automatic and you have one spirited small SUV. And then there’s Kia’s long 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
The 2021 Honda CR-V is fuel-efficient family transportation with plenty of room for passengers and cargo. If you’re looking for a hybrid, CR-V has got you covered.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.