Images by Honda

For first-time SUV shoppers, the Honda CR-V and Honda Pilot are both solid options. The CR-V is fuel efficient and pleasantly compact for an SUV, while the Pilot is roomy and powerful. Better yet, both are more affordable than average compared to other SUVs in their respective size classes.

Naturally, if you need the Pilot’s eight seats or the CR-V’s compact body, the choice is obvious. But which SUV is actually the better deal for its class?

Let’s break it down in eight rounds, comparing the CR-V to other compact SUVs, and the Pilot to rival midsize SUVs.

Round #1: Price

When it comes to cost, both of Honda’s SUVs are good deals, but the Pilot’s MSRP is just a bit better when compared to other vehicles in its class. The Pilot is $3,540 cheaper than the average midsize SUV, for a savings of about 9.5%.

Meanwhile, the CR-V is only $2,160 cheaper than the average compact SUV—just a 7.5% difference.

Slight edge: Pilot

Round #2: Fuel Efficiency

For gas mileage, the Pilot is right around the average for a midsize SUV, with 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway. In contrast, the CR-V boasts 22 MPG in the city and 28 MPG on the highway, 5 MPG better than the average compact SUV. Here, the CR-V is the clear better choice, both in a straight up comparison and with respect to its class.

Edge: CR-V

Round #3: Range

On a single tank, both SUVs are above average compared to their respective classes, a benefit that’s typical of many Hondas. But the CR-V sports significantly better range than the average compact SUV, making the CR-V an overall better deal, for its class.

Edge: CR-V

Round #4: Horsepower and Torque

Naturally, the powerful Pilot boasts higher horsepower and torque than its compact cousin. But once you put both SUVs in context, the CR-V looks much better. The Pilot is actually only about average when it comes to torque, while it sports about 4% less horsepower than the average midsize SUV.

The CR-V, meanwhile, outperformers the average compact SUV by about 5% across both metrics. For its class, it’s the better bet.

Edge: CR-V

Round #5: Power to Weight Ratio

Measured in pounds per HP, a vehicle’s power-to-weight ratio tells you how efficiently the SUV turns its pounds into raw power.

Given that the midsize Pilot has nearly 50% more horsepower than the CR-V, you might expect the Pilot to crush its smaller counterpart in terms of power-to-weight. Instead, the CR-V and Pilot nearly tie, with the Pilot just a single pound lighter per HP.

So even if it loses the straight-up comparison, the CR-V is much more impressive for its size. In contrast, the Pilot is worse than the average midsize SUV.

Edge: CR-V

Round #6: Towing Capacity

When it comes to towing, neither the CR-V nor the Pilot is particularly impressive. With a towing limit of 1,500 lbs, the CR-V falls 25% below average for a compact SUV. Meanwhile, the Pilot can tow 2,000 lbs, but that’s 58% the average for its class.

While the CR-V comes closer to its class’s average, neither SUV is recommended here. We’ll call it a wash.

Edge: neither

Round #7: Seat Space

Naturally, the Pilot is the roomier vehicle overall, with seats for eight passengers next to the CR-V’s five. But the Pilot also emerges as the better choice when compared to its respective class. While both the CR-V and Pilot have about average space in their first row, the Pilot has more room than average in the second row, even compared to other midsize SUVs.

Edge: Pilot

Round #8: Cargo Space

Once again, the Pilot would appear to be the best choice for cargo space, but look a little more closely, and it’s not as clear. Specifically, the Pilot’s eight seats mean that the SUV will be able to haul less, by default. Even if you leave the Pilot’s third row folded down, the vehicle still clocks in below average for a midsize SUV.

Meanwhile, the CR-V has significantly more space than the average compact SUV. The caveat? By folding down all three rows of seats in the Pilot, you get tons of space, far more than average for just about any SUV.

Edge: CR-V for day-to-day use, Pilot if you fold down all three rows


In the end, the CR-V is simply the better deal relative to its class. In four out of the eight categories, the CR-V has a clear edge next to the Pilot, while the two essentially tie in two other categories.

If money isn’t an issue, and you just want raw space and power, the Pilot will still be the better choice. But dollar for dollar, pound for pound, the CR-V wins.