2021 Honda CR-V vs. 2021 Kia Sportage

2021 Honda CR-V vs Kia Sportage

Kia’s dressed its new 2021 Sportage to the nines, making it one of the most stylish SUVs in its crowded class of celebrity crossovers. Of course, such cheeky chicness doesn’t come without sacrifice, as its gains in panache are overshadowed by its limited cargo capacity, poor fuel economy, and a lack of non-asphalt coherence.

Meanwhile, the 2021 CR-V continues doing what CR-Vs have done for decades: offering practicality by the fistful. It’s quicker off the line, gets better fuel economy, offers more space, and can tackle those so-called off-road obstacles without breaking a sweat. Overall, the CR-V is simply a more well-rounded compact SUV than the Kia Sportage. And it looks perfectly splendid, as well. (All in a day’s work, right?)

Show Me the Headroom!

The whole point of upgrading from a sedan to an SUV is to gain valuable space. While the Sportage is certainly roomier than a car, it’s significantly smaller than the CR-V. Sportage operates on the premise that just 98.6 cubic feet of passenger volume is all parents need. That’s about 7 fewer than the CR-V’s 105.9 cubes—the difference equates to a whole human being, give or take a fingernail or two.

Show Me The Headroom

With a sunroof, Kia shrinks even more, as headroom in the front and back get pinched down to 37.6 inches and 37.9 inches, respectively. Front and rear headroom in the CR-V totals 40.1 inches and 39.2 inches, which is a substantial increase over Kia’s meager specs. CR-V also beats the Sportage in rear legroom, front hiproom, and overall shoulder room.

2021 CR-V LX 2021 Kia Sportage EX
Headroom (front/rear) 40.1 in. / 39.2 in. 37.6 in. / 37.9 in.
Shoulder Room (front/rear) 57.9 in. / 55.6 in. 57.1 in. / 55.1 in.
Legroom (front/rear) 41.3 in. / 40.4 in. 41.5 in. / 38.2 in
Hiproom (front/rear) 55.1 in. / 49.5 in. 54.3 in. / 51.2 in.
Passenger Volume 105.9 cu. ft. 98.6 cu. ft.

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Cargo Area

In that same vein, the Sportage simply doesn’t match the 2021 Honda CR-V when it comes to transporting the nonliving.

Behind the second row, Sportage LX models come with just 30.7 cu. ft. of space; that expands to 60.1 cubic feet with the back seat folded down. Both numbers are some of the lowest in the segment.

Sitting on the other end of the spectrum is the new CR-V, which offers class-leading cargo room*. In the back, you get 39.2 cubic feet of space. Up to the front seats’ seatbacks: an amazing 75.8 cubic feet.

2021 CR-V LX 2021 Kia Sportage LX
Rear Cargo Volume 30.7 cu. ft. 60.1 cu. ft.
Max Cargo Volume 39.2 cu. ft. 75.8 cu. ft.

Nobody Puts CR-V in a Corner

Life was meant to be lived; the world meant to be explored. So, live life and explore away in the new CR-V. With all-wheel-drive, the 2021 CR-V features 8.2 inches of ground clearance, allowing it to conquer gruelingly bumpy and gravel-packed roads with ease. Should you get stuck in a bind, CR-V’s 26-degree departure angle allows you do drive away scot-free.

Although it has a steeper approach angle, the 2021 Kia Sportage with AWD only offers 6.8 inches of ground clearance and a flatter departure angle.

2021 CR-V LX 2021 Kia Sportage LX
Ground Clearance (2WD/AWD) 7.8 in. / 8.2 in. 6.4 in. / 6.8 in.
Approach Angle (2WD/AWD) 18.1° / 18.9° 16.7° / 28.0°
Departure Angle (2WD/AWD) 25.3° / 26.0° 23.9° / 24.6°
You Can't Handle The MPGs

You Can’t Handle the MPGs!

In the compact crossover segment, few vehicles are as fuel-inefficient as the Sportage. Kia’s gas chugger achieves EPA-estimated mpg ratings far below most models in its class, including the CR-V. Its four-wheel-drive LX model gets just 23 city/30 highway mpg, while its AWD model drops by 2 and a flabbergasting 5 mpg, respectively (21/25). The Sportage SX Turbo fares no better, delivering 20 city/28 highway mpg with FWD and 19 city/24 highway mpg with AWD.

The efficient 2021 Honda CR-V puts Kia’s compact SUV to shame. CR-V 2WD models bring in 28 city/34 highway mpg—5 and 4 mpg increases, respectively, over Sportage’s numbers. The AWD CR-V brings even more shame to Kia by returning 27 city and 32 highway mpg, which is better than even the FWD Sportage can muster.

Did we mention the CR-V also comes with a more fuel-efficient hybrid model that blows the Sportage out of the water? The new 2021 Honda CR-V Hybrid brings in 40 city and 35 highway mpg, easily making it the winner.

2021 CR-V 2021 CR-V Hybrid 2021 Sportage
28/34/30* - 23/30/26
27/32/29* - 21/25/23
27/32/29* 40/35/38* 21/25/23


Based on SAE J1100 cargo volume measurement standard plus, where applicable, floor space between seating rows and seats in their forward-most and upright position.

28 city/34 highway/30 combined mpg rating for 2WD trims. 27 city/32 highway/29 combined mpg rating for AWD trims. 40 city/35 highway/38 combined mpg rating for hybrid trims. Based on 2021 EPA mileage ratings. Use for comparison purposes only. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, battery-pack age/condition (hybrid trims) and other factors.