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Subaru Outback vs Honda CRV

This is a silver Honda CRV on display at a car show.

Choosing between getting two different car brands can be quite a difficult decision to make. That’s how it feels choosing between the Subaru Outback vs. Honda CRV; which one is better anyway? That’s why I decided to research to help you make your decision a bit easier.

The Outback has a higher clearance and comes standard with four-wheel drive than the CRV, making it more off-roader. The CRV is more of a daily driver, with its solid balance between comfort and spirited handling.  The Outback has more options than the CRV has, which makes it flexible.

Looking at both these cars as they come standard, the CRV does look like the better option. However, as soon as you introduce the other options of the Outback, the CRV starts to seem like it’s inferior to the Outback.

Outback vs. CRV

This is a white Subaru Outback on display at a car show.

The Outback has evolved from a station wagon to a more mid-sized SUV; however, it never left the style of a station wagon behind. The Outback drives like a sedan and has an SUV’s ground clearance to give a nifty height view. This design style makes the Outback a unique Subaru model, retaining its comfortability and versatility.

One can say that the Outback resembles a hiking boot, which makes sense if you’re the outdoors/ hiking enthusiasts who prefer Subaru for their trips. Who wouldn’t want a car that showcases your lifestyle both on-road and off-road!

The CRV, on the other hand, kept the classical SUV style but changed things up a bit by making it less bulky and more compact in design. Due to this, the CRV has less ground clearance than the Outback, making it not ideal for off-roading. The CRV still stays on par with its rivals with comfort and excellent handling on the road.

Unlike the Outback, the CRV does not come standard with all-wheel drive, and it will cost you extra to get your hands on that. All-wheel drive plays a vital role as it is considered the best attraction control and grip. 

The CR-V is one of the spaciest crossovers on the market, and the Outback still has a great amount of space for both passengers and luggage. Though the Honda CRV has a bigger cargo space than that of the Outback. To some people that have large luggage, bigger cargo space would certainly matter.

Size Comparison

This is a red Honda CRV at a desert road parked on the side.

The Outback and CRV are almost identical in shape and size. They both practically have the same width and height. The Outback, however, is 9 inches longer than the CRV, to be specific. According to Outback’s whole wagon look, this stands correct, looking a bit stretched out compared to the more compact CRV.

When it comes to the inside, you would be surprised by what the CRV can give in terms of space, even though it’s 9inches shorter. The CRV has larger cargo space than the Outback does. At the same time, the Outback has more legroom space between seats.

Both crossovers are five-seaters, and the CRV has 41.3 inches of legroom space in front compared to the Outback’s 42.8 inches of legroom space. A marginal difference between the two.  The back seat legroom for the CRV is 40.4 inches, a bit more than that of the Outback, which has 39.5 inches.

The most noticeable space difference can be seen in width and space for a person’s hips and shoulders. I’m petty sure no one wants to feel as if they are being cramped in between two metal walls.

The CRV has 57.9 inches front seat shoulder room, whereas the Outback has 58.1 inches of front seat shoulder room. The front seat hip room for the CRV is 55.1 inches, and the Outbacks is 55.5 inches. The same can be seen for the back seats, and the CRV is smaller in width.

The Honda CR-V has 39.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind its rear seats, and when the seats are laid down 75.8 cubic feet. The Outback has 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, and once the seats are laid down, 75.7 cubic feet.

Technology and Specs

This is a close look at the interior front seats and dashboard of the Subaru outback.

The Outback comes with a dual-screen setup with two 7-in screens, and it’s upgradable to a bigger, tablet-style 11.6-in screen. Compare that to the CR-V, and you get a standard 5-in screen that is upgradable to a 7-in unit. The Outback’s center console, with its larger size, is easier to use than the Hondas, in which a user interface needs an update.

Both crossovers come with similar safety technology that features automatic braking, lane assist, and cruise control.  Both crossovers have features that can be added with the upgraded or premium versions of the vehicle, but that would cost you additional costs.

Though Honda has a great safety rating, Subaru won in 2019 the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. Subaru’s brand takes safety very seriously to ensure that its drivers are safe on the road. Take into consideration the Outback has knee airbags, whereas the Honda doesn’t. Subaru even considered keeping your knees safe if you were in an accident!

Engine comparison

This is a close look at the engine of a Honda CRV.

The Honda CRV has:

  • 1.5-liter turbocharged inline-four; that makes 190 horsepower for 179 lb-ft of torque; that gives you fuel efficiency up to 28 mpg city/34 mpg on the highway.

The Subaru Outback has:

  • 2.5-liter flat-four; that makes 182 hp for 176 lb-ft of torque; that will give you an expected fuel efficiency of 25 mpg city and 33 mpg on the highway.
  • 2.4-liter turbocharged flat-four; that makes 260 hp for 277 lb-ft of torque; that will give you a fuel efficiency of 23 mpg city/30 mpg on the highway.

Honda wins in terms of fuel efficiency, making it the better choice for urban areas over the Outback. However, the turbocharged Outbacks engine outperforms the standard version of the Honda, making it ideal for off-road use or sub-urban area. Especially with its high ground clearance making even the standard edition capable of taking you off-road safely.


This is a Subaru Outback on a dirt road with mud.

It’s hard to decide between the two crossovers as they are designed for two different purposes. Overall it feels like the Subaru Outback takes the win due to its flexibility and capabilities to be used either in the city or on the dirt road.

However, the compact size and fuel efficiency of the Honda CRV make it one to choose over the Outback if you’re a person that lives in the city. It all comes down to your taste in the car’s aesthetic and what you will use it for mostly.


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