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2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester: Which is Better?

  • The Subaru Forester is all new for 2019.

  • The Honda CR-V received a full redesign for 2017.

  • Both offer humble 4-cylinder engines mated to continuously variable transmissions.

Editor’s note: You may want to read more of Autotrader’s model vs. model comparison car reviews as well as the 2019 Honda CR-V review, and the 2019 Subaru Forester review.

Two of the most commonly considered compact SUVs in the coming year are sure to be the 2019 Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester. The Forester is all new for 2019, while the CR-V was last fully redesigned for the 2017 model year. Both offer competitive cargo areas, great safety features, and modern technology. So which is better? Below we’ll compare the two to help answer that question.

Factoring in unavoidable extra fees, the 2019 Honda CR-V starts at $25,395 and tops out at around $35,000. The all-new Forester starts at $25,270 and tops out at just over $35,000 as well, again factoring in those extra fees.

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester

Basic Specs

The base level CR-V LX comes with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder making 184 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque, while all other trims get a 1.5-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder making 190 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. Any CR-V is available with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The turbo is good for two additional miles per gallon overall. With AWD, the base model CR-V earns 27 miles per gallon in combined driving, while examples equipped with the turbo earn 29. All CR-Vs come equipped with a continuously variable transmission (CVT)See the 2019 Honda CR-V models for sale near you

The 2019 Subaru Forester is offered with just one engine: a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder putting out 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. AWD is standard. Like the CR-V, the Forester’s only available transmission is a CVT. Given that they all come with the same engine, the same transmission, and AWD, every 2019 Forester returns 26 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/29 mpg combined. See the 2019 Subaru Forester models for sale near you

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester


The 2019 Honda CR-V measures 180.6 inches long, 73.0 inches wide and 66.5 inches tall, while the new Forester comes in at 182.1 inches long, 71.5 inches wide and 68.1 inches tall. The Forester offers slightly more ground clearance at 8.7 inches to the CR-V’s 8.2 inches.

Inside, the CR-V offers 40.1 inches of headroom and 41.3 inches of legroom in the front seat. In the second row, CR-V passengers get 39.2 inches of headroom and 40.4 inches of legroom. The Forester offers 41.2 inches of headroom and 43.3 inches of legroom up front, and 39.6 inches of headroom and 39.4 inches of legroom in its second row.

Overall, the Forester offers two additional inches of front seat legroom, while the CR-V offers an extra inch for legs in the second row.

In terms of cargo space, the CR-V is slightly larger than the Forester. Behind the second row, the CR-V offers 39 cu ft. to the Forester’s 35 cu ft. Fold their second rows and things even out, with both vehicles offering 76 cu ft.

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester


Base model CR-Vs get a smallish screen with no navigation, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. CR-V EX, EX-L and Touring models get a 7-in infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, which is good as Honda’s own infotainment software is said to be cumbersome to use. Navigation is only available on the top trim. The CR-V comes with four USB ports.

A 6.5-in infotainment screen comes standard on Base, Premium and Sport trims of the 2019 Forester, while Limited and Touring models get a larger 8.0-in unit, which is also optional on the Sport trim. Touring models get standard navigation, which is optional on the Limited trim. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay come standard on all trims. 4G LTE with Wi-Fi is also available. Like the CR-V, the 2019 Forester comes with four USB ports.

Overall, both of these vehicles offer competent infotainment systems, although the Subaru scores points for offering standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a larger screen on upper trims. Both lose points though for withholding navigation from all but the top trim levels in an era when this technology is no longer special.

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester tech

Technology & Features

The CR-V can be had with a foot-activated hands-free power lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, rain sensing windshield wipers, power driver and passenger seats, a heated steering wheel and LED headlights.

The redesigned Forester is available with many of the same features, including a panoramic sunroof, LED lighting and a heated steering wheel. Features unique to the Forester include a PIN-code access system, a premium audio system and different driver-selectable traction modes. The Forester offers a power lift gate, but it lacks the foot-activation feature offered on the CR-V.

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester safety


The 2019 Forester and the CR-V both earn Top Safety Pick designations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety due to their excellent crash test performance and array of active safety features.

Honda offers its full suite of active safety features on every CR-V except for the base LX model. CR-V EX, EX-L and Touring models all come with front automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning and lane keeping assist.

The 2019 Subaru Forester comes with Subaru’s full array of active safety features as standard on all trim levels. This means every 2019 Forester comes with pre-collision braking, pre-collision throttle management, lane-keeping assist with sway warning and adaptive cruise control. Automatic high beams, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, a driver distraction mitigation system and braking assist enter the picture with upper trims.

Altogether, both of these vehicles are extremely safe, but the CR-V’s inclusion of more active safety features at lower trims gives it a leg up.

2019 Honda CR-V vs. 2019 Subaru Forester relaibility


Modern Subaru and Honda vehicles are generally pretty reliable. Both companies offer a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, in line with the rest of the industry, but not as generous as the offerings from Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen.

Autotrader’s Advice

The new Subaru Forester is pretty evenly matched with the CR-V. Both vehicles offer similar exterior dimensions, interior room and cargo space. Additionally, as the new Forester does away with the turbocharged XT model offered in previous years, both vehicles offer very similar 4-cylinder powertrain options mated to a CVT. You might also say that the Forester earns a leg up for offering standard AWD, although this could be seen as a drawback by customers who have no use for it. Additionally, both vehicles score well in crash testing and offer excellent driver assistance safety features, although the CR-V offers more on lower trim levels.

Altogether, its difficult to call one of these vehicles objectively better than the other; the answer to the question of which is right for you probably lies within the nuances between the different trim levels. Find a Honda CR-V for sale or Find a Subaru Forester for sale

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