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Compact SUV Wars, Honda CR-V Vs Subaru Forester

The 2019 Honda CR-V is the brand’s number one selling vehicle but how does it compare with the competition? See how it scores against the 2019 Subaru Forester.

The 2019 Honda CR-V is the hottest vehicle in the brand’s stable but how does it compare with the popular Subaru Forester SUV? American Honda has delivered 254,835 of their most popular vehicle through August 2019. Subaru of America has sold 118,026 Forester SUVs so far this year. That’s 136,809 more compact CR-V SUVs delivered to customers or more than double Forester sales. Is the CR-V that much better?

According to Car and Driver, they picked the 2019 Honda CR-V over the Forester because it has “more power and is satisfying to operate.” Subaru Corporation chose to drop the 2.0-liter turbo Boxer in favor of having one engine, the naturally aspirated 2.5-liter Boxer four-cylinder with 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque in the next generation 2019 Forester. We think it was a mistake and the brand needs to bring it back.

2019 Honda CR-V

The 2019 Honda CR-V upper trims come fitted with a 1.5-liter turbocharged VTEC four-cylinder engine producing 190-horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. That’s not a lot of difference but the CR-V’s turbo engine will deliver more power especially at altitude.

The one advantage the 2019 Subaru Forester has over the Honda CR-V is its ground clearance. Forester comes with 8.7-inches and CR-V has 7.8-inches. This is Subaru’s calling card and how they appeal to those using the vehicle for off-pavement adventures. But that is not important to the majority of CR-V buyers who are a bit older and looking for other things in a small SUV.

Watch the 2020 Honda CR-V's the most and least favorite things by the owners and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.

2019 Subaru Forester

According to J.D. Power, CR-V buyers avoid vehicles they think will have high maintenance costs, and quality of workmanship and reliability are the first considerations when choosing a new vehicle. The Forester is also reliable, but Honda has a strong reputation for reliability.

Honda has produced one of the best-selling crossover SUVs, the popular CR-V for almost 20 years and the compact SUV delivers the right blend of utility, value, and dependability for consumers.

It seems to be clear who the overall compact SUV winner is between the 2019 Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. With more than double the sales over Forester, CR-V buyers are voting with their pocketbooks.

You Might Also Like: Good News For Honda Civic, CR-V, Accord Shoppers, Prices Drop

Bookmark the TN Honda page and be sure to follow the latest 2020 CR-V model change reports on our Honda channels, FacebookTwitterInstagram, and tweet your news tips to us @Honda_Report and we'll give you a shout out! Check back tomorrow for more Honda news and updates.

Watch Honda's Solution to Civic and CR V Oil Dilution Problem If You Smell Gas video and subscribe to the Torque News Youtube channel for daily Honda and automotive news analysis.

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Photo credit: Honda USA, Subaru USA


Bill Carlson (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 12:15AM

In reply to by Denis Flierl

Style (the CR-V is horrendously butt-ugly), fun to drive, versatility, uniqueness, comfort, dependability, safety, and a touch of class... Isn't that what we all want?
Why do people flock to the CR-V? The Forester is equally reliable. Besides the CR-V being ugly, it's dull to drive and those flared up fenders as viewed from the inside are a major distraction.

Digitaldoc (not verified)    September 6, 2019 - 11:58AM

So a choice between the underpowered Forester, or the engine issues of the CR-V? Thank you, but they can keep them both. After test driving both of those vehicles, and a Hyundai along the way, I purchased a Mazda CX-5. Sales numbers do not always tell the whole story. The story also leaves out the RAV4, and volume seller as well.

Bonnie Miller (not verified)    September 6, 2019 - 8:44PM

My 2019 Subaru Forester Sport certainly has enough power for me. I'm not sure who you are questioning about or women?? My guess is mostly men. I don't seem to have any issues getting on the interstate or traveling around town...don't underestimate the power.

Digitaldoc (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 12:48PM

In reply to by Bonnie Miller (not verified)

The Forester has enough power for many, as it is selling reasonably well. However, it is hardly leading the class in terms of 0-60 times among other compact SUV's- including the CR-V, Mazda CX-5 (even the non-turbo), and the RAV4. I drive in NY, and just for getting on the highway, some extra power is quite welcome to merge into rush hour traffic. With Subaru's all new design, they had ample opportunity to upgrade the engine, and the base engine is middling objectively compared to other vehicles on the class, and the turbo option got dropped. Subaru can and should do better IMHO.

George (not verified)    September 6, 2019 - 10:41PM

The CR-V engine problems are vastly overblown. I had a 2015 Forester and when time to upgrade I throughly studied both the Forester and the CR-V in 2018. The extra .9 inch of clearance is meaningless to me and most CR-V owners. I did opt for the all wheel drive and the acceleration is much better than the Subaru although the mileage is about 1 MPG less at 75-79 freeway speeds. The engine is not a problem and it basically takes just a program update to fix it. I’m very happy I chose the CR-V.

Alfred Andresen (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 6:37AM

I owned 4 brand new recent year Crvs. They were everything but reliable. From starters to AWD system failures, to power lock motors. I bought a 2019 forester limited and I find the power more than adequate, and I'm a male. I'm impressed with the safety, and AWD capability. very happy with my Subaru.

Dave (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 7:17AM

Honestly, I have had three CR-Vs since 2001. I am done with the car. The cables reliability of the vehicle had not proven true for me. The timing belt went on the first one at 140,000 miles, destroying the engine. The second was okay. The third, my current vehicle, a 2010, developed the burning oil problem at 125,000 miles. I could not convince the dealership to help me with it I have to put in a quart of oil every 1000 or 1200 miles. I have had other small problems that I could overlook otherwise, but honestly, I am done with the CR-V.

asc (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 8:22AM

Two colleagues in my work unit have brand new 2018 Hondas and are each in process of obtaining remedy through the state Lemon Law because of unpredictable, inconsistent stalling and constellations of dash warning lights. Neither are happy with resorting to this option.

Chris (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 12:47PM

Let's just ignore the benefits of things like Subaru's full time AWD because sale numbers are all that matters, right?

Thomas M (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 4:44PM

Article totally biased and appear to be written by Honda Motor Corp.
I owned a 2019 Subaru Forester Sport and it is definitely not underpowered. The vehicle comes standard with 4WD and equipped with all the safety gadgets. Also, vehicle is very roomy. I have owned Hondas before, Odyssey, Pilots, and will never go back. Yes. The Hondas has more horsepower but comes with a price, transmission failures, engine valve cover gasket leaking after 5 or so years of usage. After some research, i went with Consumer Reports recommendation, the top rated Compact SUV, the 2019 Subaru Forester. Yes, it was rated higher than the 2019 Honda CRV.

JB (not verified)    September 7, 2019 - 5:36PM

Completely agree. Torque seems to be completely biased superficial and making money to write well about certain cars

Jim Eckler (not verified)    September 9, 2019 - 3:36PM

We are looking at both of these. I know about the CRV fuel/oil issue. I am concerned about the oil usage issue of newer Subarus. I also understand the boxer engine has head gasket problems. What are your experiences with these?

Larry Jensen (not verified)    September 9, 2019 - 11:59PM

In reply to by Jim Eckler (not verified)

My wife and I are looking at these two as well with trepidation over the CRV and its Oil Dilution and Subaru with its Head Gasket issue. We were ready to bag both and go with the Mazda CX5 until we read about their Cylinder Deactivation issue. We decided to wait until the 2020s to see how (and if) the new models improve.

Digitaldoc (not verified)    September 10, 2019 - 12:28PM

In reply to by Larry Jensen (not verified)

The Subaru head gasket issues appear to more solved than not, but it especially effected the 2.5L engine if that helps. There is a recall on the Mazda CX-5, with a software fix that supposedly addresses it. I own a 2018 CX-5 and have not experienced the cylinder deactivation issue, and have not gotten the recall done yet. The Honda issue is ongoing with the OGD, and there is no obvious end in sight on that one.

HW (not verified)    September 10, 2019 - 12:32PM

No head gasket issues on current Foresters starting with 2011 model year, when the the new FB25 engine was used for non-turbo Foresters. Oil consumption may still be a problem for some. My own 2012 Forester uses about 1 quart per 6k miles.

Larry Jensen (not verified)    September 11, 2019 - 9:48PM

Thanks. Apparently I misread the articles and forums that I was reading about the Forester and head gasket issues. I did see multiple places where oil consumption is still an issue though (although it seems that auto manufacturers don't see it as a problem since 2500 miles is "normal" for a quart of oil being consumed - at least that's what Honda just told me which is another reason why this CRV will probably be my last.)