I just finished researching small SUVs for my wife, and we settled on the Forester after looking at Honda CR-V.
I believe we made the right choice, because the build quality seems to be about the same and reliability and resale value are also similar; but, the Forester provides a more comfortable ride and seating.
To put it bluntly, the CR-V has austere seats, especially in the mid- and lower-range models.
I would add that the Forester has amenities the CR-V does not, unless you buy the high-end model CR-V.
It is true that the Forester is not as "pretty" as the CR-V, but my wife and I favor function over form so that dropped out immediately as a consideration.
Best of all: She loves it!
We live in Buffalo, New York.
What more need I say?
All Wheel Drive!
Subaru has the Mojo!
Great visibility, as in "terrific."
A "moon roof" large enough to fit Mount Palomar.
Comfortable seats (unlike the CR-V).
Automatic with manual shift capability.
Numerous creature comforts at a reasonable price, and available only on the high-end model CR-V.
Nice handling and small turning radius.
Heat comes up somewhat slowly, but is good once it kicks in.
Engine noise is slightly loud, but then, my wife's last ride was a Camry . . . and this is an SUV.
I'm not sure about raw power, but where we live there are few mountains to climb and roads are paved.
We only need enough power to get through snowbanks or to take a few hills.
What we have is more than sufficient.
I think the Forester is far more attractive than the CR-V.
The CR-V is somewhat like a van and shaped like a big bubble.
I really think it's unattractive.
I will not be buying a new Forester for various reasons :(, but I crossed the CR-V off my list early on.
I have an old Forester, and every time I see it far off in the parking lot, I absolutely LOVE the way it looks.
The shape of it, the small size.
It's similar to some of the jeep models, except Subaru is reliable.
(I'm still looking for a new car, but I didn't buy a Forester because the gas mileage wasn't much improved, the cloth upholstery looked pretty cheap - I won't buy leather -, and I they make you buy a sunroof on the Premium model, which is the highest end model you can get w/o leather seats and that has lumbar support.
What a bummer.
My old Subie has decent upholstery, lumbar support, and no sunroof.
Times have changed.
It is subjective for the appearence of both of these fine suv s. We had an 04 Forester and shopped the new Forester and the CRV.
Got he CRV and not disappointed at all. The seats are great, they sit van like with armrest and the seat adjusts quite high so my wife can see over the dash and hood which was a problem with the Forester.
Gas mpg varies between 22 mostly city to 25 to 27 combined and 31 plus on the highway driving 65 mph. They are both roomy and comfortable and reliable, and edge to the honda over the long haul , ( Honda engine perfect ), but in the end it is what feels good to you they are both good choices.