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Honda CR-V: Which Should You Buy, 2019 or 2020?

Most significant changes: The biggest changes for now are to the cheapest CR-V — the base LX trim now gets the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder that powers the rest of the lineup and adds essential standard Honda Sensing safety and driver-aid tech, which was not even an option for 2019. Other trim levels get minor changes to bumpers and headlights, and a revised center console. A bigger change — the first CR-V hybrid model — is coming in early 2020.

Price change: Up $600 for the base LX, up $200 to $400 for other trim levels.

On sale: Tuesday

Which should you buy, 2019 or 2020? 2019, unless you’re shopping for the base LX trim level. For a small price increase, the 2020 LX has critical safety tech, as well as a more satisfying powertrain that also gets higher gas mileage. You’ll also have to get a 2020 if you want a hybrid; CR-V’s first hybrid version is due to roll out early next year.

Honda’s popular CR-V compact SUV rolls into 2020 with some minor mid-cycle styling freshening, a more tech-friendly center console and small price bumps — but also with significant safety and powertrain updates for the base LX version. And Honda will add a new CR-V gas-electric hybrid — the brand’s first hybrid SUV — in early 2020.

Related: 2020 Honda CR-V: A Honda-First Hybrid Joins Best-Selling SUV’s Lineup

Some CR-V rivals in the intensely competitive compact SUV category are sportier or have a quieter and more refined ride, as we found in our recent comparison test of compact SUVs. But the CR-V excels with cargo space, cabin storage, high gas mileage and family-friendly  features, such as a conversation mirror and huge configurable center console.

And for 2020, the base LX trim gets a $600 price increase, starting at $26,145 with front-wheel drive (all prices include an unchanged $1,095 destination charge). But the LX also adds a lot of value for 2020 with a standard Honda Sensing suite of active-safety and semi-autonomous driving technology, and a more sophisticated powertrain. The tech bundle was standard on other CR-Vs in 2019 but was not even an option for the least expensive CR-V. The 2020 LX now will have the essential forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians as well as vehicles. It also will have standard blind spot warning, lane and road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control that works all the way down to a stop.

The LX also will drop its base 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and get standard the 190-hp, turbocharged four-cylinder used in all other CR-Vs. The turbo puts out about the same torque (179 pounds-feet versus 180 pounds-feet) but does so at much lower engine speeds, so it feels much peppier. The turbo also gets better gas mileage — it’s EPA-rated up to 30 mpg combined with front-wheel drive compared with 28 mpg for the LX’s 2019 engine.

2020 Honda CR-V

All 2020 CR-Vs, meanwhile, get new front and rear bumpers, and revised headlights and taillights. EX and EX-L trims also get a new alloy wheel design and the top Touring trim gets new 19-inch wheels (up from 18). There also are three new paint colors. The main change inside is a revised center console that moves a pair of USB ports to the front ahead of the device tray. We also noted in our compact-SUV comparison test that some rivals offered new upscale features not offered for the CR-V, and Honda is addressing some of that for 2020 with the addition of wireless phone charging and a heated steering wheel on the top Touring trim level.

Beyond the price increase for the base LX, the second-level EX with front-wheel drive will start at $28,655, up $210. The EX-L will start at $31,145, up $200. And the top-of-the-line Touring will start at $34,345, an increase of $400. All-wheel drive is available on all trim levels, priced at $1,500, an increase of $100 from the price for AWD for 2019.

We’ll get more hybrid details — including price, more specs and EPA ratings — closer to the launch. But what we know so far is that it will get some hybrid-specific styling details, instruments and tech. And it will have all-wheel drive — Honda’s first AWD hybrid — and share  the powertrain of the Honda Accord Hybrid that includes  a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with two electric motors for a total of 212 hp.

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The CR-V compact SUV rivals include the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Rogue, Ford Escape, Volkswagen Tiguan, Subaru Forester, Jeep Compass and Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox and Mazda CX-5. The new CR-V hybrid will go head-to-head with the hybrid version of the archrival RAV4.

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