2023 Honda CR-V Vs Subaru Forester: A Comparison

Honda CR-V Vs Subaru Forester

Table of Contents

As the compact SUV market becomes increasingly crowded, two enduring favorites stand out: the 2023 Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. With their reputation for reliability, practicality, and top-notch safety features, both vehicles have captured the hearts of drivers everywhere. But when it comes to choosing between the two, the decision can be quite challenging. 

In this detailed comparison, we’ll dive into the key aspects of these popular SUVs to help you decide which one is the perfect fit for your needs and lifestyle.

Exterior Design

The 2023 Honda CR-V features a sleek, modern design with sharp lines and bold features. The redesigned front fascia features a new, more aggressive grille flanked by slim LED headlights. A contoured hood and streamlined body create a dynamic, athletic appearance. The rear of the CR-V also features sculpted taillights and a clean, uncluttered design.

The Subaru Forester maintains its iconic rugged and outdoorsy appeal with its distinctive boxy shape and high ground clearance. The 2023 model features a redesigned front fascia, giving it a more aggressive and modern look. New LED headlights and C-shaped taillights provide enhanced visibility and visual flair. The raised roof rails contribute to the Forester’s adventurous spirit.

Interior Design

The interior of the 2023 Honda CR-V emphasizes comfort, functionality, and space. High-quality materials, including soft-touch surfaces, are present throughout the cabin. The intuitive layout of the dashboard ensures all controls are within easy reach. A redesigned center console offers a mix of open and closed storage, and the available leather-trimmed seating adds a touch of luxury.

The Forester’s interior focuses on practicality and usability. Its clean, uncluttered design features durable materials that can withstand the rigors of daily use. The well-organized dashboard features large knobs and buttons for easy operation, even while wearing gloves. The Forester also offers optional leather-trimmed seating and a panoramic sunroof for an elevated driving experience.


The CR-V provides spacious seating for up to five passengers, with ample legroom and headroom in both rows. The front seats offer excellent support and cushioning, while the rear seats can recline for added comfort. An available 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory function and heated front seats further enhance the CR-V’s appeal.

The Forester also accommodates five passengers comfortably, with a slight edge in rear legroom compared to the CR-V. The wide-opening rear doors make it easy to access the second row, and the supportive seats ensure a comfortable ride. Available features like power-adjustable front seats, heated front and rear seats, and a heated steering wheel enhance passenger comfort.


The CR-V shines in the storage department, offering a generous 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Folding down the 60/40 split rear seats increases the cargo capacity to a maximum of 75.8 cubic feet. The low load floor and wide rear opening make it easy to load and unload bulky items.

The Forester is no slouch when it comes to cargo space, providing 35.4 cubic feet behind the rear seats and up to 76.1 cubic feet with the seats folded down. The Forester’s boxy shape allows for taller items to fit more easily, and the available power liftgate simplifies loading and unloading.


The CR-V comes standard with a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque. Paired with a continuously variable transmission (CVT), the CR-V delivers smooth, responsive acceleration. Drivers can choose between front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) configurations, depending on their preferences and driving conditions. The CR-V’s suspension is tuned for comfort, ensuring a composed ride even on rough surfaces.

The Forester is equipped with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine, generating 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. It comes standard with Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT and the renowned symmetrical all-wheel drive system, providing excellent traction and stability. 

The Subaru Forester also boasts an off-road-ready X-MODE feature, optimizing engine output and transmission ratios for maximum performance in challenging terrain. The Forester’s suspension delivers a comfortable ride with minimal body roll, making it suitable for both city and off-road adventures.

Fuel Efficiency

The CR-V is relatively fuel-efficient for its class, with the FWD model achieving an EPA-estimated 28 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The AWD model’s fuel efficiency is only slightly lower, with EPA estimates of 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway.

The Forester’s standard AWD configuration delivers impressive fuel efficiency, with EPA ratings of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. Its BOXER engine and Lineartronic CVT contribute to the vehicle’s respectable fuel economy.


The CR-V is known for its excellent safety ratings and advanced driver assistance features. The 2023 model is no exception, with the Honda Sensing suite of safety features coming standard on all trims. This includes forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking system, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and more. Additionally, the CR-V has received top safety ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

The Forester is also highly regarded for its safety features and crash test ratings. It comes standard with the Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keeping assist. The Forester has also earned top ratings from both NHTSA and IIHS, further solidifying its reputation for safety.

Trim Levels

The Honda CR-V is available in four trim levels: LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring. Each trim offers a variety of standard and available features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a touchscreen infotainment system, a premium audio system, and more.

The Forester comes in five trim levels for 2023: Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring. Each trim offers a range of features, such as a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, premium audio systems, and unique exterior and interior styling elements.


The base LX trim of the 2023 Honda CR-V starts at around $26,000, with higher trims increasing in price accordingly. The top-of-the-line Touring trim can reach upwards of $35,000 when fully equipped with optional features.

The 2023 Subaru Forester starts at a slightly lower price point than the CR-V, with the Base trim priced at approximately $25,000. The range-topping Touring trim can reach prices around $35,000 with all available options included.

Key Differences

While both the 2023 Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester are outstanding compact SUVs with plenty to offer, there are several key differences that may influence your decision. Here are the main factors that set these two vehicles apart:

Standard Drivetrain & Off-Road Capability: 

The CR-V comes with front-wheel drive as standard, while all Forester models come equipped with Subaru’s symmetrical all-wheel drive system.

The Forester also has a distinct advantage in off-road performance, thanks to its standard AWD, increased ground clearance, and the available X-MODE feature.

Engine Options & Fuel Efficiency: 

The CR-V features a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine, providing quicker acceleration and slightly more torque. On the other hand, the Forester comes with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine that prioritizes efficiency and reliability.

The CR-V’s FWD and AWD models achieve slightly better fuel efficiency than the Forester’s standard AWD model. However, the difference is minimal, and both vehicles are considered fuel-efficient in their class.

Trim Levels: 

The CR-V is available in four trim levels (LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring), while the Forester comes in five (Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring), offering more variety in customization and features.

Final Thoughts: 

The 2023 Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester are exceptional compact SUVs, offering a unique blend of comfort, practicality, and performance. The CR-V’s sleek design, fuel efficiency, and cargo space make it a popular choice for families and city dwellers, while the Forester’s off-road capabilities, standard AWD, and rugged appeal cater to adventure-seekers and those in need of a reliable all-weather vehicle. 

When it comes to safety, reliability, and features, both SUVs deliver in spades. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your specific preferences and requirements, but rest assured that whichever model you choose, you’ll be driving a highly-rated, versatile SUV that’s ready to take on life’s challenges.

Features Breakdown:

2023 Honda CR-V Features:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Sleek, modern design with sharp lines
    • Aggressive grille and slim LED headlights
    • Contoured hood and streamlined body
    • Sculpted taillights and clean rear design
  • Interior Design:
    • Comfortable, spacious, and functional cabin
    • High-quality materials and soft-touch surfaces
    • Intuitive dashboard layout
    • Redesigned center console with storage options
    • Available leather-trimmed seating
  • Seating:
    • Accommodates five passengers
    • Ample legroom and headroom in both rows
    • Reclining rear seats
    • 12-way power-adjustable driver’s seat (available)
    • Heated front seats (available)
  • Storage:
    • 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind rear seats
    • Maximum cargo capacity of 75.8 cubic feet
    • Low load floor and wide rear opening
  • Performance:
    • 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine
    • 190 horsepower and 179 lb-ft of torque
    • Continuously variable transmission (CVT)
    • Front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) options
    • Comfort-tuned suspension
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • FWD: 28 mpg city / 34 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
    • AWD: 27 mpg city / 32 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
  • Safety:
    • Honda Sensing suite of safety features
    • Top safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • Trim Levels:
    • LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring
  • Pricing:
    • Base LX trim starting at around $26,000
    • Top-of-the-line Touring trim up to $35,000 with optional features

2023 Subaru Forester Features:

  • Exterior Design:
    • Rugged, boxy shape with high ground clearance
    • Redesigned front fascia
    • New LED headlights and C-shaped taillights
    • Raised roof rails
  • Interior Design:
    • Practical and durable cabin
    • Clean, uncluttered design with well-organized dashboard
    • Large knobs and buttons for easy operation
    • Optional leather-trimmed seating and panoramic sunroof
  • Seating:
    • Accommodates five passengers
    • Slightly more rear legroom than CR-V
    • Wide-opening rear doors for easy access
    • Power-adjustable front seats (available)
    • Heated front and rear seats (available)
    • Heated steering wheel (available)
  • Storage:
    • 35.4 cubic feet of cargo space behind rear seats
    • Maximum cargo capacity of 76.1 cubic feet
    • Boxy shape accommodates taller items
    • Available power liftgate
  • Performance:
    • 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine
    • 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque
    • Lineartronic CVT
    • Standard symmetrical all-wheel drive system
    • Off-road-ready X-MODE feature
    • Comfortable suspension with minimal body roll
  • Fuel Efficiency:
    • AWD: 26 mpg city / 33 mpg highway (EPA-estimated)
  • Safety:
    • Subaru EyeSight Driver Assist Technology suite
    • Top safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • Trim Levels:
    • Base, Premium, Sport, Limited, and Touring
  • Pricing:
    • Base trim starting at around $25,000
    • Top-of-the-line Touring

About Marcus The Car Guy

I've been in car sales and finance for over 20 years, working at the highest volume dealerships in the nation including Fletcher Jones, DCH and more. Want to pick my brain on finding cars, negotiating cars, and structuring car deals?

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