In 2017 the Honda CR-V received Car and Driver’s Best Compact SUV award and little has changed with the 2018 model. The 2017 Subaru Outback received numerous awards as well, but was edged out by the CR-V in head to head comparisons.
Well, it is now 2018 and while Honda was resting on its laurels, Subaru has been adding a few new touches to its class leading wagon. We thought it would be a good time to compare these models once again to see if the new Outback has upped its game enough to beat out the CR-V.
Let’s face it, pricing is an important consideration for any new car purchase and with all the different trim levels available on these two models, comparing price can be a little tricky.
The CR-V is available in four trim levels (LX, EX, EX-L, and Touring) and comes with both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive configurations. For this comparison we will be evaluating the all-wheel-drive versions which range in price from $25,550 for the base model LX to $34,050 for the top-of-the-line Touring trim.
The 2018 Outback comes in six different trims (2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited, and 3.6R Touring). All-wheel-drive is standard. A base model 2.5i starts at $25,895 while the top-end 6-cylinder Touring trim will run you $38,690.
Honda and Subaru are both known for producing safe vehicles and these two 2018 models are no exception.
The 2018 Subaru Outback received the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award with top ratings in all crash tests and an ‘acceptable’ rating on the headlights test. The NHTSA gave the Outback a 5-Star rating in side impact tests and a 4-Star rollover rating (other tests are pending).
Subaru’s EyeSight safety suite is available on all but the base model and boasts advanced safety features like forward collision warning, automatic front and rear emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure and sway warning, and lane keep assist. Automatic high beams as well as blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert and lane change assist also come bundled with the EyeSight suite.
The 2018 Honda CR-V is no slouch either with 5-Star ratings from NHTSA and top ratings on all IIHS crash tests. Like the Subaru, the 2018 CR-V earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ Award.
On EX trims and higher Honda Sensing Safety and driver assist technologies are standard and include adaptive cruise control, front automated emergency braking, blind spot monitor, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, automatic high-beams, back-up camera, a rear cross-traffic alert, and a driver-attention monitor.
While the 2018 CR-V has one of the most impressive interiors in its class, with high-quality materials, excellent fit and finish, and large cargo space, it falls short in standard features on the base model. The few features that come standard include a four-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, a USB port, and a 5-inch audio display screen and rear view camera.
Step up to the EX trim and you get a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Honda Sensing safety suite, heated front seats, power driver’s seat, power moonroof and remote start.
EX-L and Touring models feature leather trimmed seats and steering wheel, power adjustable front passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview mirror, 8-speaker audio system, a power tailgate, and available Honda Satellite Linked Navigation System.
The redesigned 2018 Subaru Outback has a greatly improved interior, boasting better grade materials and better fit and finish than previous models. Like the Honda however, you’ll need to step up to a higher trim level to get the features you want.
Standard features on the base model include a 6.5-inch Starlink multimedia screen with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, rear-vision camera, tire pressure monitoring system, traction control, keyless entry, and anti-theft security system.
Premium trims add a standard 8-inch touch screen, heated front seats, power adjusted driver’s seat, dual front and rear seat USB ports, and dual zone climate control.
Limited models boast leather-trimmed upholstery and steering wheel, heated rear seats, power tailgate, keyless access, and push button start. You’ll also get a premium Harmon Kardon audio system, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, updated Starlink multimedia, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Step up to the Touring level and you get an upgraded multi-media system with two USB ports, TomTom navigation, and the ability to receive over-the-air updates using Wi-Fi. Touring models also receive reverse automatic braking and Eyesight Driver Assist Technology which includes Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision Braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and Lane Keep Assist.
If you are looking for performance, the Subaru is the only contender in this comparison that offers a V-6 which delivers 256hp. The base model 2.5l delivers 174hp The CR-V is available with a either a 2.4l V-Tec engine delivering 174hp or a 1.5l turbocharged engine that delivers 190hp.
If towing capacity is a concern, the Subaru is the clear winner with a towing capacity of 2700 pounds compared to the Hondas 1500 pound capacity.
While both vehicles are fairly capable off-road, the Subaru has higher ground clearance and standard all-wheel-drive. In order to get the advantage of all-wheel-drive in the CR-V you’ll need to pony up another $1400.00.
The reality is that both of these vehicles have proven themselves in terms of safety, drivability, and longevity, and they are very comparable with regard to creature comforts and interior space.
Our recommendation? Go drive them both for a real world comparison and make your decision from there.