Subaru Outback vs. Honda CR-V

By

Automotive Editor

Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia, but now calls Detroit home. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new food, wrenching on his car, and watching movies.


, Automotive Editor - May 25, 2018

The SUV craze may have hit an all-time high recently, but there are a few automakers that continue to make alternatives to the high-riding machines. Subaru, which practically carved a niche in the segment with its all-wheel-drive wagons, still has the Outback in its lineup. And just like it always has, the Outback continues to offer the same versatility as a SUV in a more agile body. When it comes to SUVs, the Honda CR-V is one of the more popular vehicles on the road and continues to be a strong competitor thanks to its wide-reaching character. But how does the SUV compare to the shapely wagon?

See a side-by-side comparison of the Outback & CR-V »

What the Honda CR-V Gets Right

While it may be hard to believe, it's the taller CR-V that gets better fuel economy figures. The EPA rates the SUV to get up to 28 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway, and 30 combined. The Outback isn't too far off with a combined rating of 28 mpg – 25 city and 32 highway. The noticeable difference can be traced back to the CR-V being fitted with front-wheel drive as standard, while the Outback sends its power to all four wheels.

Another area where the CR-V pulls ahead of the Outback is cargo capacity. With its taller body, the SUV can hold 39.2 cubic feet with the second row in place and a total of 75.8 cubic feet. Those numbers are a little bit better than what the Outback can hold – 35.5 cubic feet behind the second row and 73.3 cubic feet behind the first row.

The CR-V is also the cheaper option, with a starting price of $25,245 (including destination) for 2018 models, which is $1,565 less than the entry-level 2018 Outback. Despite its lower price tag, the CR-V has the more powerful standard engine. The SUV is fitted with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder motor that's rated at 184 horsepower as standard. The Outback comes with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine that makes 175 hp.

What the Subaru Outback Gets Right

With Subaru's iconic Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive system as standard, the Outback is ready to get dirty and tackle inclement weather straight from the dealer. The CR-V does offer all-wheel drive as an option, but it's an additional $1,400. While the CR-V may look like it's the better alternative for light off roading, the Outback's ground clearance of 8.7 inches is better than the CR-V's 7.8 inches.

The Outback's base engine may not be as powerful as the CR-V's, but its available 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine is more powerful than the Honda's optional engine. The Outback's six-cylinder is rated to make 256 hp, while the CR-V's 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder generates 190 hp.

Towing capacity is more impressive with the Outback, too. The wagon is rated to tow 2,700 pounds, while the CR-V can only pull 1,500 lbs.

Can the Subaru Make Wagons Cool Again?

Wagons haven't been desirable since the ‘70s, but the Outback isn't an old-school station wagon. It represents a new generation of wagons that can go off roading and are more enjoyable to drive than SUVs. Thanks to the traditional body style, the trade off in cargo space and fuel economy isn't that obvious. Sure, SUVs have it all, but the Outback proves that wagons can be just as good.

Our Verdict: Subaru Outback

The Subaru is the more enjoyable vehicle to drive, has a more powerful six-cylinder option, and can tow more cargo than the CR-V. While the CR-V will be more than enough for the majority of consumers, the Outback is the more versatile machine.

Take a closer look at the Subaru Outback »

Take a closer look at the Honda CR-V »

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Editor

Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia, but now calls Detroit home. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new food, wrenching on his car, and watching movies.