Subaru Outback vs Forester: A comparison of Subaru crossovers known for long-term dependability and low cost of ownership.
Forester vs Outback Images
So you’ve decided on a new Subaru vehicle. Fantastic choice. One problem: Subaru has such an outstanding lineup of stylish, versatile and economical vehicles that it’s hard to decide which model is right for you. Now you’re stuck between the Subaru Forester vs. Subaru Outback. Both offer go-anywhere all-wheel-drive (AWD) and the long-term dependability that Subaru has built its reputation.
It’s a tough choice, but don’t sweat it; you really can’t go wrong with either model. After reading this comparison guide, use Reply! to connect with local dealers to find the lowest quotes on the Subaru Forester vs Outback.
Choosing a Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Forester
The Subaru Outback has been a favorite in the North American market for several decades, while the Forester is a relative newcomer. Each offers similar performance and handling capabilities, as well as fuel efficiency and cost of ownership. So, what are the biggest differences between the Subaru Forester vs Outback?
“The Forester is more utilitarian, no excess, just what you need,” said Sebati Oker, Sales Associate at Carr Subaru in Beaverton, OR.
“It’s basic, with less options and it’s about $4,000 cheaper model to model [with the Outback]. It’s also smaller, more maneuverable and nimble and meets more of the minimalist lifestyle that Subaru customers have. You can throw your muddy gear in the back, then hose off the interior when you’re done.”
The Outback, on the other hand is more flush with features to keep passengers comfortable.
“Outback drivers tend to have a family and also tend to like the more elegant features offered standard in the Outback,” said Oker. “It has a tighter and more ‘fit and finish’ ride, and is much quieter. It’s longer and wider to provide better handling, with confidence in the turns and a more solid feel at higher speeds.”
If you’re busy running errands and driving around town all week, but still hit the mountains and hiking trails on the weekend, the Outback might be right for you. If you just want outstanding AWD performance with no frills and a lower price tag, you might choose the Forester instead.
The Outback is Subaru's utility crossover wagon, and it was designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind. The elite sport wagon has standard features including roof rails with integrated cross bars, under-the-floor rear cargo storage, 65/35-split fold-down rear seats and a rollover sensor. Because the Outback has so much cargo capacity, it is a top choice for moms.
You can choose between a four-cylinder engine, which gives you up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway, and a six-cylinder engine, which allows you to take advantage of the Outback's 3,000-pound towing ability. Its ride is comfortable and smooth.
The Subaru Outback also has a lot of optional features for you to choose from. You can opt to include an SD-based navigation system, upgrade to a Harman Kardon audio system and add the EyeSight driver assist system to your new vehicle. This system uses adaptive cruise control and gives you a lane-departure warning. Other optional features for the new Subaru Outback include rear-vision camera, dual-zone climate control and Satellite radio.
Compare the Subaru Outback to other competing models:
The Subaru Forester is a good choice for people looking for a compact SUV. Like the Subaru Outback, the small crossover is designed for people who enjoy the great outdoors. It is also an outstanding car for commuters.
The Forester includes ample interior space and flexible cargo areas. The vehicle comes standard with 60/40-split fold-down rear seats, seven airbags, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an iPod/USB audio interface, raised roof rails and a four-cylinder SUBARU BOXER engine.
It also has all-wheel drive and approximately two more inches of ground clearance than other small crossover vehicles.
Some standard Forester models also have a moonroof and a power rear gate and come with an all-weather package. Depending on the type of Forester you choose, you should get between 28 and 32 mpg on the highway. Some of the optional features for the new Subaru Forester include EyeSight driver assist system, GPS navigation system and Keyless access.
Compare the Subaru Forester to other competing models:
- Forester vs. Honda CR-V
- Forester vs. Toyota RAV4
- Forester vs. Hyundai Santa Fe
- Forester vs Kia Sportage
Subaru Symmetrical AWD Explained
“AWD is more valuable on a Subaru than any other brand because cars like the Outback and Forester are built from the ground up to be AWD vehicles, while competing cars are built for 2WD and later adapted to AWD in performance packages,” said Oker. “The Subaru system is perfectly balanced, both in weight and power distribution.”
Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive comes standard on every single Subaru model for added traction, stability and performance efficiency. This, of course, includes the Subaru Outback vs. Forester. The AWD is symmetrical by mounting the engine in-line with the drivetrain for equal power to all four wheels.
Other models built on a 2WD system have to be configured with complex designs to provide equal power to all four wheels. A more convoluted system will make the vehicle operate less efficiently. And of course, more parts means it’s more likely something can break, which adds to maintenance costs.
“Subaru AWD provides more grip and more predictable handling. When it’s pouring rain on the freeway with low visibility, if you hit a huge puddle in the road, only the Subaru will be able to handle it. Cars with front-wheel drive are at risk of hydroplaning out of control.”
As power is distributed to all four wheels, Subaru AWD will and hold true to the path of a steep turn, and will never lose control in the rain. Front and rear-wheel drive cars can oversteer through corners, which may cause a slide out in the rain.
“Drivers may not need AWD all the time, but they’re confident in the traction AWD provides when they do.”
Subaru Outback vs Forester Tale of the Tape
Starting retail price
- Outback: 24,495
- Forester: 22,495
- Outback: 189” long, 107.9” wheelbase
- Forester: 179.5” long, 103” wheelbase
- Outback: 41” front head room, 42” rear head room
- Forester: 42” front head room, 40” rear head room
- Outback: 2.5-liter 173 horsepower base engine, 4x4 AWD
- Forester: 2.5-liter 170 horsepower base engine, 4x4 AWD
- Outback: 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway
- Forester: 21 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway
5-Year cost of ownership
- Outback: $17,907 based on depreciation, fuel costs, insurance, etc.
- Forester $14,780 based on depreciation, fuel costs, insurance, etc.
Whether you're looking for an everyday vehicle for your family or a small SUV that can handle the roughest terrain, both the Subaru Outback and the Subaru Forester fit the bill. Because both of the crossover vehicles are designed for avid outdoorsmen, you'll discover that both vehicles offer a variety of optional features and that the cost between the two doesn't differ much.
As you conduct your Subaru Forester vs. Subaru Outback comparison, you'll find that both vehicles are reliable, have plenty of safety features and get good gas mileage, making either one of them a good buy.