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2021 Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander

2021 Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander

2021 Outback vs Highlander - How do they stack up? Which is Better?

Looking for a reliable car that won't let you down? Consider the 2021 Subaru Outback or Toyota Highlander! Both offer great features and are top picks in their respective classes. The Outback stands out with its standard all-wheel drive and practicality, while the Highlander is known for affordability and safety.

Although each model has distinct differences such as seating capacity - two rows on the Outback vs three on the Highlander - both provide many similarities worth exploring before making your ultimate decision. So get informed today to make sure you're getting exactly what's right for you.


The Powertrain

The Subaru Outback offers two available powertrains with its range of SUVs. Its standard 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine delivers 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque for a reliable performance that is sure to please many drivers out on the road. Even more impressive are the XT trims which come equipped with turbocharged 2.4 liter four cylinder engines boasting 260hp and 277 lb.-ft allowing them to excel in acceleration, hill climbs or when carrying extra passengers around town.

All trims have symmetrical all-wheel drive to enhance their traction. They also have X-Mode. This is a program that can improve control when conditions are really difficult. Some models have snow, mud/sand, and rock/dirt driving modes that would be very handy if dealing with tough trails.

The Subaru is designed to provide safe and seamless travel down steep inclines. Using Hill Descent Control, drivers can relax as the vehicle's speed is automatically limited – freeing them up to focus on navigating turns for a hassle-free journey. And this same feature exists in the Highlander too.

With a choice of two engines, Subaru Outback trims come equipped with Lineartronic continuously variable transmissions to ensure optimal performance. Drivers unable to take advantage of manual shift mode won't be disappointed – the smaller engine offers impressive torque-power for up 2,700 lbs in tow weight and an even more robust capacity when powered by its larger counterpart allowing 3,500 lbs worth pulling power.

Toyota's Highlander SUV brings the thunder with two powerful and fuel-efficient engine choices. The 2.5L hybrid offers an impressive 243 HP, while still coming close to matching even a turbocharged Outback model! For those seeking extra oomph, there’s also a 3.5 L V6 that has 295HP of torque - perfect for cruising in style & comfort backed by either 8-speed automatic or continuously variable transmissions depending on your preference. A good choice if you're looking to shake up the status quo.

The Toyota Highlander allows for unbeatable on-road traction, with no extra effort necessary! Drivers can choose to equip their vehicle with an all-wheel drive system - whether traditional or electronic. Either way, it ensures that no matter the terrain encountered during your journey you’ll be able to stay firmly in control of any situation as instantaneous adjustments are made if needed.

The XSE trim of the Highlander is built for a sportier experience, equipped with an advanced dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive system and tuned suspension to sharpen handling. Whether you're looking for powerful powertrain performance or are needing something that can tow heavier loads than most other SUVs – this may be your go-to car. Featuring up to 5,000 pounds when powered by its V6 engine and 3,500 lbs max using hybrid technology; it seems like no job will be too tough for the Highlander.

Hybrid Highlander owners can look forward to significantly boosting their fuel efficiency, with many car models offering up to 36 miles per gallon in the city and 35 on the highway. The Outback turbocharged model steps it up even further- an estimated 23/30 (city/highway) – while trims featuring 2.5 liter engines offer a remarkable 26/33 MPG boost.


With ferocious dimensions, the Highlander is a beast of an SUV. While its size may be intimidating for drivers unaccustomed to such vehicles, it ultimately provides greater comfort and space than that of its competition like the Outback. A whopping 194.9 inches in length means plenty of room - 42-41 inches in rows one and two provide superior legroom while row three should primarily accommodate children with 27+ inches at their disposal.

In the middle row of the Toyota, there could either be a bench seat or captain's chairs. Captain's chairs are ideal if customers only need seven total seating positions and want to have easier access to the third row. The bench seats are typically found in the lower trims.

Behind the seats in the Highlander, there's a cargo area that has a volume of 16 cubic feet. Lowering the third row brings the cargo capacity to 48.4 cubic feet, and folding down the second and third rows gives the cabin a maximum cargo capacity of 84.3 cubic feet.

The Subaru Outback is the ideal car for families on the go! It's shorter than your typical SUV, yet still offers 2 spacious rows of seating with plenty of legroom in both - great news if you have tall passengers. Plus, it has an impressive 8.7 inches of ground clearance and a maximum cargo capacity at 75 cubic feet which makes transporting larger items or extra passengers easy-peasy. Pack up and hit the road without worry thanks to this trusty companion from Subaru.

Drivers can stay connected wherever the roads take them with Subaru's Outback, equipped with modern technology like touchscreen displays and Wi-Fi capability. For entertainment on long trips, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and SiriusXM provide plenty of choices for music or news. Upgrade to a select trim for integrated navigation that gets drivers from point A to B—and enjoy it all in high definition sound courtesy of Harman Kardon's premium audio system featuring 12 speakers.

The Toyota Highlander SUV offers the most up-to-date infotainment technology with its touchscreen features that allow you to access built in navigation as well as Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and satellite radio. Stay connected while driving with handsfree calling or music streaming plus voice activation of Alexa for traffic updates - all backed by an impressive 11 speaker JBL audio system.


From Subaru's EyeSight to Toyota's Safety Sense 2.5+, the last few years have seen a tremendous leap forward in safety technology for SUVs – equipping vehicles with advanced components and systems designed to monitor their environments, alert drivers of potential dangers, and take corrective action as needed. This armory of features promises optimal protection behind every wheel.

Subaru's package consists of adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency braking and collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. Further, every Outback has automatic high beams. Many trims have blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear automatic braking. Some trims could have a driver attention mitigation system that keeps people focused on their most important job when they're behind the wheel. Select trims could also have a 180-degree front-view camera in addition to the standard rear-view camera. This would make parking and maneuvering a lot easier.

Rather than having a front-view camera, the Toyota Highlander has an available 360-degree camera that gives a bird's eye view perspective of the SUV. Another advanced system that is available is parking assist with automatic braking. All Highlander trims have pre-collision warning and mitigation, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane departure alert, and lane tracing assist. All Highlanders have automatic high beams to help with driving at night in more rural areas.

The Highlander's Road Sign Assist feature is like having a virtual co-pilot! It keeps drivers informed every step of the way, helping them remember speed limits and other important road regulations. Whether it’s a stop sign or yield symbol, this innovative SUV has got you covered - making sure that your journey stays safe and hassle free.

Which Has the Best Value

The Subaru Outback is a great option for those looking to take advantage of generous features without breaking the bank. An affordable base model starting at only $26,795 leads into top-of-the line trims such as its Touring edition, with prices reaching up to just shy of forty grand ($37,495). If that's not enough power and luxury for you though don't despair; three turbocharged versions are also available ranging from mid-$30k all the way ahead to nearly 40k.

The Highlander offers an array of distinct trim levels, ranging from the affordable $34,910 base L model to the luxurious Platinum Hybrid at a price tag of just under $50k. Not only are there various gasoline and hybrid options available- each increasing in luxuriance - but also with all wheel drive being offered as an additional feature for most trims you'll be sure to find one that fits your needs.

The Highlander Platinum offers the ultimate in luxury and technology, with leather seats for a smooth ride, heated front row seating to keep you warm on chilly days, an intercom so everyone can stay connected even on the go AND energy-saving LED headlights & taillights. Of course no luxurious experience is complete without 20" wheels and a power panoramic moonroof.

The Outback shines when it comes to exterior details, with 18-inch wheels and signature LED headlights. Its limited moonroof offers a classic look but can still let in plenty of light. Drivers will be comfortable no matter the temperature outside -- Nappa leather upholstery provides style while heated/ventilated front seats, rear heating and a warm steering wheel get everyone cozy during drives! While luxurious touches abound throughout its lineup, the Highlander ultimately proves more upscale than even this Subaru's top trims.


Which is Better?

The Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander may have some similar traits, but that doesn't mean they're identical. When it comes to seating capacity and cargo room the Highlander definitely has an edge - perfect for large families or road trips with plenty of luggage! But don't worry – even though this extra space takes away from its horsepower, the hybrid option is sure to make up for a little lackluster performance in power-hungry drivers' eyes.

The Highlander and its competitor boast impressive amenities, safety features, and modern technology. However, what really makes the Highlander stand out is the combination of their high-end components which deliver an unparalleled overall experience for those willing to spend a bit more. For anyone looking for ultimate comfort on four wheels - splurging on one of these luxurious models could be your best bet.

The Outback and Highlander are the perfect examples of having to choose what features you want versus practicality. When it comes down to choosing between them, folks have to ask themselves if third-row seating is a true need? How much money do they feel comfortable spending on an automobile? Does one provide more extra amenities than the other for their buck? Ultimately though, Subaru's signature ride stands out - safe, reliable and great value.

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