Honda CR-V vs Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback vs Honda CR-V: A comparison of crossover cars with plenty of cargo space.

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In recent years, a distinctive niche in the new car marketplace has emerged as a popular one with drivers and a lucrative one for carmakers. Crossbreed the old family station wagon of yore with the bulky camping classics like a Jeep Wagoneer and you get what’s casually referred to today as a crossover or compact SUV. A crossover is the ideal choice when you need more room than what a sedan offers without the large size of a traditional SUV. The Subaru Outback and the Honda CR-V have both distinguished themselves in this field. Conducting a Honda CR-V vs. Subaru Outback comparison will show you that each model has its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing between one over the other may come down to your specific personal needs and your driving style. It might also just come down to style, like in the old days of people being Ford or Chevy lovers exclusively.

In addition to this guide, you should take some time to read other reviews and check car rankings before you decide on purchasing any particular model. Once you're done researching use Reply! to connect with local dealers, set up test drives and receive competitive price quotes.

2014 Honda CR-V: an overview

honda crv vs subaru outback1The CR-V comes in three distinct finish/option packages: the LX, the EX and the EX-L. Each of these three models also comes with the option of choosing a two-wheel (front-wheel) drive train or an all-wheel drive train (AWD). With each successive model, you will have more standard features, but you will also pay a little more for them. All three models (in fact, all six options) comes with a 16-valve, i-VTEC, inline 4-cylinder engine delivering 185-hp.

All three models also come with Honda’s standard 5-speed automatic transmission and a bevy of safety features including vehicle stability assist, front and side airbags, anti-lock braking and tire pressure monitoring.

The big differences between the base models and the more advanced ones can be found in features like in-car DVD players and sound and navigation systems. The top-end X-L models can come equipped with Honda’s DVD rear section entertainment systems and can be further upgraded to feature Honda’s satellite-linked navigation system, complete with in-dash LED display and hands-free communications options.

Adding features to your CR-V selection won’t have much of an impact on your fuel efficiency as each model relies on that very thrifty 4-cylinder engine. You will notice some differences stepping up to any AWD version of whatever model/trim package you select. For example, the fuel efficiency ratings for the base level, 2WD LX register at 23-mpg in the city and 31-mpg on highways. Load your selections up and take the top-of-the-line AWD EX-L and you still get an impressive 22-mpg in the city and 30-mpg on the highway.

2014 Honda CR-V awards

Not only is the CR-V a hit with drivers and Honda fans, it has accumulated an impressive case of trophies and awards during its tenure, and 2014 has been no different.

U.S. News & World Report named the 2014 CR-V “Best Compact SUV for the Money” in its annual survey. Kelley Blue Book named the 2014 CR-V to its list of the 10 Best Resale Value Award winners as well as to its list of the 12 Best Family Cars for the year.

2014 Honda CR-V prices

For all its features and performance specs, the CR0-V isn’t to hard on the family budget or your personal pocketbook. For 2014, the MSRP for the CR-V ranges from the base entry-level 2WD LX that starts at $23,120 to the fully loaded, top end AWD EX-L with rear space DVD entertainment system and Honda’s satellite-linked navigation system starting at $30,620.

2014 Subaru Outback: an overview

honda cr-v vs subaru outback2The 2014 Subaru Outback is available in four separate models: the 2.5i, the 2.5i Premium, the 2.5i Limited and the 3.6R Limited. As the names suggest, these models are geared around (mostly) the size and power of the engine: the first three featuring a 2.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine delivering 173-hp; and the last in line offering a 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder engine delivering 256-hp. All four feature all-wheel driver trains.

The 2.5i and the 2.5i Premium models give you an option of a 5-speed, continuously variable automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual. The 2.5i Limited and the 3.6R Limited are only available in the 5-speed automatic.

All four models have a full array of safety features including: ABS braking systems; front, side, and even overhead airbags; electronic stability; and anti-theft systems.

2014 Subaru Outback awards

The versatile range of models in Subaru’s Outback stable garners a fervent following, with drivers and critics. In 2014, the Outback brought its fair share of accolade to Subaru including a top safety rating for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

ConsumerReports also had the Outback at the top of its list in 2014 for Top Picks by its readers and reviewers.

2014 Subaru Outback prices

If your primary motivation for buying a car is price only, you’re going to be challenged deciding between these two crossover SUV titans. In 2014, the MSRP for your Subaru Outback ranges from the low end on the entry-level 2.5i starting at $23,495, to the starting MSRP for the 3.6R Limited at $32,095. One case to be made for that slightly higher MSRP on the higher end Outback is that you do get the V-6 engine and noticeably more horsepower.

Pros and cons

honda cr-v vs subaru outback3With so many variables, you can probably find a review out there to support any position you would be inclined to take when completing a Honda CR-V vs Subaru Outback comparison. We’re going to try and make it as simple for you as possible and stack up the entry level models of each against one another and suggest where one outshines the other. We’ve also thrown in a few general categories where there are differences between the makes and models overall:

Honda CR-V advantages

  • Higher safety ratings
  • Greater horsepower
  • Standard automatic transmission
  • More rear seat legroom
  • Exceptional cargo space for size
  • Standard rearview camera
  • Option for 60/40 split fold-down backseat

Subaru Outback advantages

  • Choice of engines (4-cylindeer or 6-cylinder)
  • Standard all-wheel drive
  • Better performance and handling
  • Greater towing capacity
  • More torque
  • More head and legroom
  • Unique exterior styling

honda cr-v vs subaru outbackThe 2014 Honda CR-V and the 2014 Subaru Outback have nearly identical warranties, and the two are almost indistinguishable when making comparisons on which one holds its value best and longest.

Toss a coin!

In reality, there is very little (on paper) that separates these two cars. The Subaru Outback, it can be argued, is actually in a class by itself, although it compares in capacity and other features to more pricey mid-size crossovers. The Outback retains a bit of the styling of classic old station wagons, albeit in an eye-catching modern format. The Honda CR-V follows the traditional style for a subcompact SUV and is attractive, although it does not particularly stand out in a crowd.

Learn more about the Honda CR-V

Both cars seat five passengers comfortably, although the Subaru has noticeably more legroom. With all seats in place, the Honda CR-V actually has more cargo capacity than the Outback, and even with the seats removed, the cargo capacities of the two remain nearly the same. If towing is important to you and your family, the heavier, longer Subaru Outback truly excels when compared to the Honda CR-V. The CR-V is limited to towing up to 1,500 pounds, whereas the Outback has a towing capacity of 2,700 pounds.

Learn more about the Subaru Outback

In short, if you want a car for family driving, either the Honda CR-V or the Subaru Outback will suit your needs. If towing capacity is important to you, the Outback is your choice, and the Outback offers higher performance with its larger engine. There is only a minimal difference in price between the two cars, and both are reliable, but the CR-V has a lower cost of ownership thanks to its better fuel economy. In many ways, this is truly a Coke vs. Pepsi debate: it all boils down to personal taste.

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Check a reliable auto buyer's guide for more information about each of these two cars and any other crossover or subcompact SUV that you may be considering. Before you decide between the CR-V and the Outback, you'll want to conduct a hands-on Honda CR-V vs. Subaru Outback comparison by test-driving each car, and then you'll want to shop around online and locally to get the best price for whichever car you choose.
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