2021 Subaru Forester vs Honda CR-V Comparison : Which Is Better ?

By Max Anthony •  Updated: 03/07/21 •  4 min read

The 2021 Subaru Forester and the 2021 Honda CR-V are two of the best Japanese Crossover SUVs available today. Produced by two companies that are known for their build quality and reliability, both run head-to-head in competition. So, here’s a comparison of the 2021 Forester and the 2021 CR-V:

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2021 Subaru Forester vs Honda CR-V :

2021 Subaru Forester vs Honda CR-V
2021 Subaru Forester | Subaru

Engine and Performance

The 2021 Subaru Forester has one engine available, which is a four-cylinder that produces 182hp. The Forester’s CVT is sometimes slow to respond in case of needed added acceleration.

The Honda CR-V has a 190hp producing four-cylinder turbo, which is paired with a CVT, that is better than the one in the Subaru. The CR-V is also available with a hybrid powertrain; a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and two electric motors that combine for 212hp. Ride quality is smooth from both the SUVs.

Interior and Tech

Both the Forester and the CR-V have great interior quality, and have been designed well. The 2021 Subaru Forester has a better infotainment system than the CR-V. You’ll get automatic climate control, satellite and HD radios, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and two USB ports.

You get a 6.5-inch touchscreen but you can upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen, along with Wi-Fi hotspot capability, Bluetooth hands-free text messaging, navigation. 4 speakers are standard with an optional nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system. Other available upgrades include a panoramic moonroof, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Just like the Forester, the 2021 Honda CR-V has standard automatic climate control, a four-speaker audio system. However, the base CR-V has a terrible infotainment system with a 5-inch display, and only one USB port. Its controls are not user-friendly. On higher trim levels, a better 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, HD Radio, two USB ports for both rows of seats, are offered.

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Plus, there’s navigation, wireless charging, and choice of an eight or nine-speaker audio. Upgrades include dual-zone automatic climate control, a moonroof, proximity key entry, remote start, and ambient cabin lighting. 

Passenger and Cargo Space

The CR-V is more cargo-friendly than the Forester, offering 39.2 cubic feet of space and 75.8 cubic feet with the seats folded. It also has a low-load floor.

The most available space is in the base-trim Forester; 31.1 cubic feet, and 76.1 cubic feet with folded seats, as the figures go down with the upper trims. Powered lift gates are available in both the Forester and the CR-V.

Safety and Fuel Economy

The 2021 Honda CR-V is EPA rated to achieve 28mpg city and 34mpg highway with FWD, and 27mpg and 32mpg highway with AWD. The Subaru Forester consumes more, but is still decent with 26mpg city and 33mpg highway with AWD. 

The NHTSA has given both the 2021 Forester and the 2020 CR-V five out of a total five stars in front and side-impact tests, and four stars for rollover resistance. Both the Forester and the CR-V come standard with adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure and sway warning. The Forester also has a lead vehicle start.

Options are blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, and a driver attention monitor. Automatic high-beam headlights and rear-cross traffic alert are standard on the CR-V, but are optional on the Forester.

Price and Warranty

Prices have increased this year for both the Forester and the CR-V. The 2021 Forester starts from $25,845 in its base version, with the top variant Touring model going for $35,945. The base-trim 2021 CR-V starts higher at $25,050, going to $34,825 for its Touring trim, and to $37,525 for the Touring Hybrid. 

For the warranty, the Forester and the CR-V are the same. The Limited warranties for both cover 5 years or 60,000 miles, and the Powertrain ones cover 5 years or 60,000 miles. Both cars also don’t offer complimentary maintenance.

Our Verdict

The Subaru Forester. The 2021 CR-V is better for loading cargo, due to its design and cargo space. But the 2021 Subaru Forester is priced better, has a better sound and infotainment system, a slightly better ride, more standard safety features and AWD as standard. 

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Max Anthony

Max is a gizmo-savvy guy, who has a tendency to get pulled into the nitty gritty details of technology and cars. He attended UT Austin, where he studied Information Science. He’s married and has three kids, one dog and a GMC truck and a Porsche 911. With a large family, he still finds time to share tips and tricks on cars, trucks and more.