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Which 2019 Honda CR-V Should I Buy: LX, EX, EX-L or Touring?

The 2019 Honda CR-V’s strong mix of value, safety features and interior flexibility continue to make it a strong contender in the crowded compact SUV class. The CR-V is now two years removed from its 2017 redesign, and its all-around appeal has given it consistently strong sales numbers. We don’t see that changing any time soon.

Related: 2019 Honda CR-V: Everything You Need to Know

Changes for 2019 are light: There’s a new exterior color, a small increase in price and Honda sliced off one trim level, the EX-L with Navigation, which leaves four options remaining: LX, EX, EX-L (the “L” stands for leather) and Touring. If you want native navigation, it’s only offered on the Touring model now; otherwise, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are your navigation options on lower trims, using your phone to show Google Maps, Apple Maps or Waze on the CR-V’s display screen.

Each of the four trims offer a good amount of differentiation. Even the EX and EX-L, which sound similar, have key delineators and a $2,500 gap. Front-wheel drive is standard on all trims, and all-wheel drive is available for $1,400. Whether you need it or not depends on where you live and the activities you choose, so we’ll examine each trim without this consideration.

The least expensive LX trim starts at $25,345 (all prices include destination), but it’s not our pick for a couple of reasons. It’s the only trim level with the base engine, a 184-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. All other trims come with a 190-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with higher gas mileage ratings and enhanced performance. On top of that, the LX is missing essential features that don’t show up until the EX.

The top-level Touring is also out. It’s simply too expensive with its $33,745 starting price to fit into the value sweet spot we’re looking for. The Touring also doesn’t offer that much additional equipment over the EX or EX-L — some of those features are more cosmetic than anything else. The Touring’s included LED headlights, however, are key to the CR-V receiving the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick with an acceptable headlight rating, while other headlights score lower.

That leaves us with the EX ($28,245) and EX-L ($30,745). The CR-V EX adds two very important standard features: a Display Audio system with a 7-inch touchscreen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the Honda Sensing suite of safety technologies. Honda Sensing isn’t offered on the LX, and it includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow. The EX also adds optional blind spot warning and additional USB charge ports, a must for a family vehicle.

Related: 10 Car Features That Will Keep Pets Safe and Comfy

Which 2019 Honda CR-V Trim Should I Buy?

Deciding between the EX and EX-L isn’t as simple as picking whether or not you want leather seating surfaces; the EX-L adds a power liftgate, auto-dimming rearview mirror and a powered front passenger seat. For me, that’s not quite enough to tip the scales in favor of the EX-L, considering they have the same technology and safety equipment. That leaves the EX as the king of the CR-V mountain. Honda designs the EX trims of many of its vehicles to be the volume seller, and with good reason — it has a plethora of safety, technology and convenience features that hold great appeal at a reasonable price.

See below for a more detailed breakdown of the standard features associated with each trim level:

Standard features (LX trim level, $25,345)

  • 184-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, continuously variable automatic transmission
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Single-zone automatic climate control
  • Six-way manual driver’s seat
  • 5-inch LCD multimedia screen
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • One USB port
  • Power side mirrors
  • 60/40-split, folding rear seat
  • Cloth upholstery

The EX trim level ($28,245) adds or replaces:

  • 190-hp, turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, CVT
  • 18-inch alloy wheels
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • 12-way powered driver’s seat
  • 7-inch Display Audio touchscreen
  • Six-speaker audio system
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • Four USB ports
  • Satellite radio
  • Heated front seats
  • Honda Sensing (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist)
  • Blind spot monitor
  • Keyless smart entry system
  • Power moonroof
  • Foglights
  • Push-button start

The EX-L trim level ($30,745) adds or replaces:

  • Leather upholstery
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Power tailgate
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel
  • Four-way powered front passenger’s seat
  • Eight-speaker audio system

The Touring trim level ($33,745) adds or replaces:

  • Rain-sensing windshield wipers
  • Hands-free access tailgate
  • Roof rails
  • LED headlights
  • Dual chrome exhaust tips
  • Navigation system
  • 330-watt audio system with nine speakers and subwoofer

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