As an aside that would otherwise go unheard, I’m putting out blogs of my work versus my own thoughts, as they are two different things.
Though not given credit, this was my first assignment at CarsDirect.
Original text (before edited):
With the third largest market behind the midsized and compact car classes, the compact CUV causes quite a clamor for car companies trying to keep their footing. Starting in 1996 with the Toyota Rav4, competition stacked up rapidly with the Honda CR-V in 1997, and the Subaru Forester in 1998. Here in 2013 model year, the CR-V is still among the top selling of the modern day CUV’s, but has a lot more competition, including a yet-again fresh Forester for 2014.
As Subaru has offered since the 1990’s, the Forester is still an all-wheel drive-only deal. And what Subaru would be complete without the unique horizontally-opposed Boxer engines that give such a unique chuffing sound?
Looking at the ’14 Forester, it takes nit-picking beyond the greenhouse and ’09 Elantra-esque headlamps to see what’s changed since the ’13. Surprisingly it’s almost completely new aside from the 2.5L Boxer engine. Subaru now offers a CVT instead of the begroaned four-speed automatic of last years model, putting the engine to better use by holding the power right where it needs to be. Unlike the CR-V, the Forester offers a manual transmission (six speeds, up from five), as well as another engine to choose from if the 2.5L’s 170hp isn’t enough: a brand-new 2.0L turbo-charged, direct injected four-cylinder good for 250hp. Forester also has a better turning radius for U-turns and tight lots.
While the Honda CR-V may only have a five-speed automatic and just the one 2.4L, 185hp engine against the Foresters wider range, and weigh 200 lbs more than the Subaru, the CR-V matches the performance of the non-turbo Subaru. The CR-V does struggle a little more in EPA fuel ratings, however, with city/highway/combined mpg sitting at 22/30/25 with AWD while the Subaru ratings are consistently 2mpg ahead in all three categories. Shaving the AWD on the CRV still has the Honda stepping up 1mpg in all three. The Subaru does have 174lbft of torque—11 more than the Honda— at lower, more accessible RPM.
With that said, the CR-V does pull a gas-can out of a hat and gets better road-test mileage in the real world than the Subaru. Furthermore, the Honda has a smaller interior volume overall, yet has more cargo and rear-seat space than the Subaru. Both the Forester and CR-V are strong CUV veterans, but the Honda does hold stronger resale value, and all while being a fresher-looking package.
Where my opinion really stood:
I’m not a fan of CUV’s and SUV’s, so neither really floats my boat as a whole, and genuinely meant it when stating the Subaru looked like a refresh instead of a new model. The Subaru held many advantages to me: manual transmission, turbo option, tighter turning circle, and of course better MPG. Subaru is also noted for being better off-road. As long as that Subaru has a turbo model, that’d probably be my choice.
With that said, the Honda genuinely did have some surprises, like the larger interior and (to a lesser shock) better economy. The styling could be worse, too.