2016’s Best Used Crossovers

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As today’s families become more mobile, that is, they need to get around to destinations beyond work or school, finding suitable and adaptable transportation becomes more important. Once you realize you can’t fit Mom, Dad, two kids, the family dog, and all their stuff in a Honda Civic for a weekend trip to the mountains, the beach, or Grandma’s, what other options are there? Don’t get us wrong, the Honda Civic is a great little car, as efficient and reliable as they come, but space is a premium in such a small vehicle. On the other hand, just because you have occasional trip out of town, this doesn’t mean that you have to buy a second vehicle.

Perhaps something in between would be more suitable? Enter the compact sports utility vehicle (SUV), also known as crossover SUV, which offers more space and capability without sacrificing fuel economy and daily reliability. Many crossovers come with four-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) and small efficient four-cylinder engines, but are still easy enough to get around town. A used crossover SUV could be the perfect replacement for the compact sedan that you’re driving right now.

Japanese Used SUVs

We really like Japanese used cars, especially used SUVs, and not because we sell Japanese cars, but because they’re consistently ranked as the most reliable used cars on the road. They last a long time, are very reliable, and don’t incur excessive maintenance and repair costs. The top ten most reliable used cars, for example, include a single each of American and Korean brands, the top five being solid Japanese brands, including Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Suzuki, and Subaru. Luxury brands, such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi, on the other hand, don’t even rank in the top twenty, which might mean they’re well worth avoiding if you’re looking for a reliable and low-running-cost used SUV.

Taking a look at a couple of these most-reliable Japanese used cars, specifically the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester, how do these two used crossover SUVs compare? All things considered, even a used Honda CR-V or used Subaru Forester, both of which can be had from our stock for less than $3,000, has a lot to offer the modern family on the go, but there are a couple of things that set these two vehicles apart.

Comfort and Size

Don’t let anyone tell you differently, but size does matter. Both the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V are practically the same size regarding wheelbase and overall length and width, which make them exceptionally manoeuvrable, but the way that each vehicle makes use of this space differs.

Regarding driver and passenger comfort, the Subaru Forester offers greater interior dimensions, adding two or three inches over the Honda CR-V, for extra legroom, headroom, and shoulder room. Tall people and five-member families will really appreciate the spaciousness those extra couple extra inches offer. The higher stance and tall windows offer a better view of your surroundings, as helpful in navigating a parking lot as a forest trail.

On the other hand, whereas the Honda CR-V seems to have sacrificed a little driver and passenger room, it really capitalizes on cargo space. With the rear seats occupied, the CR-V’s 37.2 ft3 is nearly 6 ft3 more than the Forester. Even with the rear seats folded down, the CR-V still holds nearly 3 ft3 more cargo than the Forester. On the other hand, unless you go for the top of the line CR-V, you can’t get a factory roof rack for extra gear, which is standard on all Forester trim levels.

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AWD vs 4WD

Where the Subaru Forester really shines is in its full-time symmetrical AWD system, as compared to the Honda CR-V’s FWD-based (front-wheel drive) 4WD system. While the Forester’s drivetrain has been designed from the ground up as an AWD system, the CR-V’s is essentially a FWD system with an added transfer case and rear drive axle, which leads to some differences in how the two drivetrains react to differing traction conditions.

The basic difference between these two systems is that Subaru AWD is “always on,” powering all four wheels all the time. Honda’s 4WD system doesn’t kick in until loss of traction is detected, by which time it may already be too late. True, you may never notice this difference driving around town, but the CR-V might get you stuck, while the Forester would have powered through a bad patch of road or beach. Also, the Subaru Forester offers a few more inches of ground clearance, very helpful in navigating even moderate off-road conditions and enhancing overall visibility.

Powertrain Offerings

Another slight difference between these two used SUVs might be, such as engine and transmission offerings. The Honda CR-V typically only comes with a single engine and transmission pairing, the manual transmission model being a very rare find, indeed. The Subaru Forester, on the other hand, comes with at least two engine and transmission pairings, including a turbocharged option and a manual transmission option. Both cars are exceptionally frugal when it comes to fuel consumption, but certain drivers may appreciate the extra punch that the Subaru’s optional turbocharged engine offers when paired with a manual gearbox.

Overall

These are two great used SUVs, the Honda CR-V and the Subaru Forester, and you couldn’t go wrong with either of them, really. Both are highly reliable and, even if they need repairs, they’re plentiful enough that spare parts can easily be found. Just be sure to keep up with maintenance, and you can enjoy years of trouble-free performance without unexpected repair costs.

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