Let’s Compare the 2023 Honda CR-V vs. 2023 Subaru Forester

The benefits of a compact crossover SUV are well-known. SUVs offer a car’s drivability and fuel efficiency while providing more power and space for passengers and cargo. The Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester are two of the most prominent players in the market. They both debuted in the same year, 1997, and we can draw obvious comparisons between these two long-lasting and dependable SUVs.

Both vehicles have plenty to offer you. But which one comes out on top in a side-by-side comparison? Keep reading to see how the characteristics and qualities of these two SUVs compare.


The 2023 Honda CR-V has five trim levels in its lineup; three are exclusively gas-powered, and two come with hybrid engines. The LX, EX, and EX-L trims come with a standard 190-horsepower turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, while the Sport and Sport Touring trims come with a 204-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid engine. Honda has paired both engines with a continuously variable transmission, and while the Sport Touring comes standard with all-wheel drive, all other trim levels have the option of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.

The 2023 Subaru Forester has six trim levels, all powered by the same 182-horsepower 2.5-liter flat-four-cylinder engine. The Forester also pairs its engine with a continuously variable transmission, and unlike the CR-V, all-wheel drive comes standard on all trim levels.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the gas-powered CR-V achieves 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which is very similar to the 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway that the Forester gets. However, the hybrid engine of the CR-V handily wins the fuel-efficiency battle, reaching 43 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway.


The Honda CR-V received a complete overhaul in 2023, resulting in dramatic improvements to its exterior styling, interior styling, and comfort level. The appealing interior design includes a honeycomb-textured insert that spans the length of the car from the steering wheel to the passenger window, providing camouflage for the air vents. A standard sunroof and heated seats add a luxurious touch to the redesigned CR-V. Your back-seat passengers will be pleased to see that Honda increased the CR-V’s back-seat legroom by 0.6 inches, and the reclining back seats are perfect for long road trips.

The interior of the Subaru Forester is a bit more down-to-business than the CR-V and lacks the CR-V’s sense of style. While some trim levels have the option of reclining rear seats and heated seats, they are not standard, as they are with the CR-V. In fact, most of the options that add a bit of flair to the interior styling are optional or only available on the higher trim levels, meaning you’ll need to pay more for the added sophistication and comfort.

If you’re looking for an SUV, chances are you expect to have a generous amount of cargo space. After all, that’s one of the perks of choosing an SUV over a car. The CR-V is slightly longer and wider than the Forester, which means it edges out the Forester in terms of cargo space. The CR-V has 39.3 cubic feet of cargo space or 76.5 cubic feet with the back seats folded. This edges out the Forester, which has 28.9 cubic feet or 74.2 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.


The CR-V has either a 7-inch or a 9-inch touch-screen infotainment system, depending on trim level. This system includes a physical knob for tuning and volume control, so you don’t have to navigate through menus for these essential functions. The Forester has Bluetooth capabilities, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. USB ports and a 12-volt power outlet ensure that your devices will always stay charged.

The Forester also has a nice variety of tech features. The Forester’s infotainment system is a bit smaller than that of the CR-V, starting with a 6.5-inch touch screen on the Base, Premium, and Sport trims and upgrading to an 8-inch touch screen on the Wilderness, Limited, and Touring trims. The Forester shares the same basic connectivity options as the CR-V, plus every model except the base model includes 4G LTE Wi-Fi capabilities.


Both SUVs have a variety of safety features to help you feel confident when driving around the Marion, Illinois, area or taking your family on an out-of-town excursion. The CR-V comes equipped with Honda Sensing driver assistance features, which include a collision-mitigating braking system, a road departure mitigating system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, traffic jam assist, and a traffic sign recognition system.

The Forester comes standard with Subaru’s EyeSight driver assistance technology, which includes a pre-collision braking system, pre-collision throttle management, lane departure and sway warning, and advanced adaptive cruise control with lane centering. While the standard safety features might not be as impressive as the CR-V’s, a few optional features, such as blind-spot monitoring with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, are included on higher trim levels and make the Subaru a bit more competitive with the Honda.


Both the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester are known to be dependable vehicles. However, their warranties ensure that either manufacturer will cover any issues you may experience. Both SUVs have a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. The CR-V takes it further by offering a free maintenance plan that covers oil changes, tire rotations, and routine maintenance for two years or 24,000 miles.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester are solid additions to the compact crossover SUV market. Both have the longevity to prove they’re worth the test of time, although the Forester is starting to get overshadowed by other competitors that lure customers with improved tech and safety features.

With the 2023 redesign of the CR-V, this SUV edges out the Forester and other SUVs in this market with the addition of the hybrid engine, elegant interior design, more cargo space, and enhanced driver assistance and technology features.

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