2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2018 Subaru Forester

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The CR-V EX/EX-L/Touring’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Forester doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Compared to metal, the CR-V’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Subaru Forester has a metal gas tank.

Both the CR-V and the Forester have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Honda CR-V is safer than the Subaru Forester:

 

CR-V

Forester

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

 

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

220

317

Neck Stress

194 lbs.

210 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

58/91 lbs.

310/462 lbs.

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.7 inches

Neck Injury Risk

29%

52%

Neck Stress

124 lbs.

215 lbs.

Neck Compression

111 lbs.

134 lbs.

Leg Forces (l/r)

183/200 lbs.

379/133 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Honda CR-V is safer than the Subaru Forester:

 

CR-V

Forester

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.6 inches

.6 inches

Abdominal Force

130 G’s

150 G’s

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

125

235

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

Spine Acceleration

43 G’s

44 G’s

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

There are over 66 percent more Honda dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the CR-V’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the CR-V has a standard 410-amp battery. The Forester’s 390-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the CR-V third among compact suvs in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The Forester isn’t in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Honda vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 23rd in initial quality. With 13 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Honda vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Honda 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 27 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

The CR-V LX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 14 more horsepower (184 vs. 170) and 6 lbs.-ft. more torque (180 vs. 174) than the Forester 2.5i’s standard 2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the CR-V LX is faster than the Forester 2.5i (automatics tested):

 

CR-V

Forester

Zero to 60 MPH

7.7 sec

9 sec

Quarter Mile

16 sec

16.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

88.4 MPH

83.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the CR-V gets better fuel mileage than the Forester:

 

 

 

MPG

CR-V

FWD

Auto

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/32 hwy

 

 

1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

28 city/34 hwy

AWD

Auto

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

 

 

1.5 turbo 4 cyl.

27 city/33 hwy

Forester

AWD

Manual

2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

22 city/28 hwy

 

Auto

2.5 SOHC 4 cyl.

26 city/32 hwy

 

 

2.0XT 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/27 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Honda CR-V uses regular unleaded gasoline. The Forester 2.0XT requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The CR-V has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Forester doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Transmission

The Honda CR-V comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the Forester.

Brakes and Stopping

The CR-V stops much shorter than the Forester:

 

CR-V

Forester

 

70 to 0 MPH

166 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

122 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the CR-V has larger tires than the Forester (235/65R17 vs. 225/60R17).

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the CR-V is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.5 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Forester.

The CR-V Touring AWD handles at .82 G’s, while the Forester 2.0XT Touring pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The CR-V LX executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Forester 2.5i Touring (27.7 seconds @ .62 average G’s vs. 28.6 seconds @ .55 average G’s).

Chassis

The front grille of the CR-V uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Forester doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

The CR-V uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Forester doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the CR-V Touring AWD is quieter than the Forester 2.5i Touring (40 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The CR-V has 1.2 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room and 2.4 inches more rear legroom than the Forester.

Cargo Capacity

The CR-V has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the Forester with its rear seat up (39.2 vs. 34.4 cubic feet). The CR-V has a much larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the Forester with its rear seat folded (75.8 vs. 74.7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over cargo hatch design makes loading and unloading the CR-V easier. The CR-V’s cargo hatch lift-over height is 26 inches, while the Forester’s liftover is 28.6 inches.

The CR-V’s cargo area is larger than the Forester’s in almost every dimension:

 

CR-V

Forester

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

37.5”/71”

34.3”/71.3”

Max Width

54”

51.5”

Min Width

41.5”

42.2”

Height

41”

34.8”

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the CR-V Touring’s liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Forester doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.

Servicing Ease

The CR-V has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Forester doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.

Ergonomics

The CR-V EX-L/Touring’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Forester doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

If the windows are left open on the CR-V the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Forester can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The CR-V Touring’s standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Forester’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The CR-V has a standard center folding armrest for the rear passengers. A center armrest helps make rear passengers more comfortable. The Forester Base doesn’t offer a rear seat center armrest.

Both the CR-V and the Forester offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the CR-V has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Forester doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

The CR-V is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Forester doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the CR-V is less expensive to operate than the Forester because it costs $522 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the CR-V than the Forester, including $198 less for a water pump, $24 less for front brake pads, $183 less for fuel injection, $105 less for front struts and $205 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

The Honda CR-V has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

CR-V

Forester

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

Top Pick

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

FALSE

J.D. Power and Associates rated the CR-V first among compact suvs in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Forester isn’t in the top three.

The CR-V was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Five/10Best Trucks” for 3 of the last 17 years. The Forester has never been a Car and Driver “Top Five/10Best Truck” pick.

Motor Trend selected the CR-V as their 2018 Sport Utility of the Year. The Forester was Sport Utility of the Year in 2014.

The Honda CR-V outsold the Subaru Forester by over two to one during the 2018 model year.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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