When it comes to comparing compact crossover SUVs, it’s pretty common to think of the Honda CR-V and the Toyota RAV4. However, the Subaru Forester is still a formidable contender in the segment and although it’s often overlooked, it can still hold a candle to a perennial favorite like the Honda CR-V.
In actuality, the CR-V and the Forester are almost identical when you run down both of their spec sheets. They both have nearly identical horsepower numbers, fuel economy ratings, and seating configurations. Needless to say, either one will suit your daily driving needs just fine, but the Forester does trump the CR-V in a few different ways. As such, here are five ways in which we found the Forester to be better than the CR-V.
The Subaru Forester has standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive
The Honda CR-V is available with an all-wheel-drive system, however, it’s optional on every trim level. In fact, it adds an extra $1,400 to the bottom line if you want to power all four wheels. And on top of that, Honda’s all-wheel-drive system is only a part-time system, meaning that it mainly drives with the front wheels until the rear wheels lose traction.
On the other hand, the Subaru Forester comes with the brand’s fabled Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system as standard equipment on every trim level, even the base one. So even if you don’t want all the bells and whistles, you can still drive with all four wheels.
More responsive acceleration
The Forester and the CR-V have similar power numbers: 182 hp and 190 hp, respectively. However, the CR-V is powered by a turbocharged 1.5-liter engine that is mated to a CVT transmission, and during the time we spent with the car, we felt that the acceleration was extremely slow upon accelerating from a stop or low speeds.
On the other end of the coin, the Subaru Forester is powered by a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine that is also paired to a CVT, however, we found it’s acceleration to be much quicker and snappier off the line. Neither car will push you back in the seat, but we feel that the Forester is smoother for the everyday drive.
A better sound system
The Honda CR-V comes with a 180-watt sound system with six or eight speakers as standard equipment, but opting for the top Touring trim will get you a 330-watt sound system with nine speakers and a subwoofer. That’s not bad, in fact, we found that the sound system sounded pretty clear for what it was.
However, the Subaru Forester comes with a 6-speaker system as standard but it also can be upgraded with a 576-watt Harmon Kardon sound system with 9 speakers and a subwoofer. This system completely trumps the Honda system and we recommend it to any audiophiles.
A better infotainment system
The Honda CR-V comes standard with a 5-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which can be upgraded to a 7-inch screen in the higher trim levels. We found the system to be slow and clunky and while the volume knob is welcomed, it really needs a tuning knob as well.
The Subaru Forester comes standard with a 6.5-inch screen, which can be upgraded to an 8-inch screen. Its operation is simple and responsive and it has a volume and tuning knob to quickly scan through stations. What’s more, there’s even still a CD player for the old school folks. Good job, Subaru!
The Subaru Forester has a base price of $24,295 and the Honda CR-V starts at $24,450. And while that’s only a $200 difference, consider that you’ll get Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system and the EyeSight suite of driver’s assist features as standard equipment on the base trim. On the top end, the CR-V Touring is priced at $32,580 and the Forester Limited is priced at $34,295. However, in order to get all-wheel-drive on the Honda, you’ll still need to add $1,400, which is still less than the Subaru, but remember that you’ll get a better audio system with the Forester as well.