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2022 Subaru Outback vs Forester

2022 Subaru Outback vs Forester

2022 Outback vs Forester - How Do They Stack Up? What are the differences?

Subarus have gained a lot of fans over the years, thanks in part to their durability, practicality, and capability. The Outback and Forester are two of the company's well-known models. They're both SUVs that have two rows of seating, a good amount of cargo space, and standard all-wheel drive. If they seem very similar to each other, that's because they are. However, there are some differences that this overview will highlight.

Size and Styling

Size is an area in which there are some distinctions between the two vehicles. The Outback is the longer and wider vehicle, with the Forester being taller by a slim margin of about one and a half inches. That margin is the same when it comes to width, but in this case, the Outback has the advantage. The Outback's overall length is 191.3 inches, which puts it nearly nine inches longer than its counterpart.

The Forester has a more traditional SUV appearance. It sits upright and is fairly tall, and it looks athletic. With its slightly different shape, the Outback is more of a wagon. Anyone who has to park either vehicle will definitely notice the additional length of the Outback.

The two vehicles have the same ground clearance of 8.7 inches. The exceptions are the Wilderness trims, which made their debut as part of the 2022 model year. The Outback Wilderness sits 9.5 inches off the ground, while the Forester Wilderness has a ground clearance of 9.2 inches. With more clearance, these trims look more imposing and can do a better job of clearing obstacles and dealing with uneven terrain.

In regards to interior space, both models offer an impressive amount of room. The Forester comes with 43.3 inches of leg room in its first row and 39.4 inches of leg room in its second row. The Outback is in the same range, having 42.8 and 39.5 inches of first- and second-row leg room, respectively. Both have more than 100 cubic feet of passenger volume, which is something that many customers will appreciate.

Cargo volume is another area in which these Subarus shine. Behind their rear seats, they have plenty of room. Cargo volume is 32.5 cubic feet in the Outback and 28.9 cubic feet in the Forester. Lowering the seats down results in even more capacity. In this case, the Outback could have up to 75.7 cubic feet of space, and the Forester could have up to 74.2 cubic feet of space. As seen by these numbers, the Outback is the one that can hold more cargo, so this may be a key factor for some prospective buyers.

Subaru has gone with LED steering responsive headlights for both vehicles. These headlights can adjust their angle when the vehicle is turning, so they can light up dark roads very well. The Outback gets to have standard LED fog lights, while these are found on almost all trims of the Forester except for the base model.

Their side mirrors are mostly the same. Base models have black folding mirrors, while mid-level and upper trims can have mirrors with integrated turn signals. The color of these mirrors depends on the trim. For instance, a trim could have body-color, black, or satin chrome mirrors. A difference is that two of the Outback trims can be upgraded with mirrors that have a power-folding feature. Those two trims also have chrome inserts on their door handles, so it's evident that they're providing a more upscale experience.

Subaru has given customers the option of getting Outbacks or Foresters with moonroofs. All trims of the Forester, except the base model, come with panoramic power moonroofs. The Outback has a regular-sized moonroof, which is optional on select trims and standard on three of them. Many people feel that bigger means better when it comes to moonroofs.

The Outback does have one additional exterior feature that people might want to have. Nearly all of its trims have de-icers built into their front and rear wipers. This can really come in handy when the temperatures drop and ice could otherwise start to build up.

These vehicles have the same type of stylings, with rounded edges as opposed to more angular ones like some competitors may have. They can ride on 17- or 18-inch wheels. The base trim of the Forester starts off with steel wheels, but the most affordable Outback has aluminum-alloy wheels. Otherwise, all the other trims have aluminum-alloy wheels, with many of them having a black finish.

The Wilderness trims of both models have beefed-up exteriors. They have special Wilderness badging, stronger roof rails, and black and copper accents. The Geyser Blue exterior paint color is exclusive to this line of vehicles. They also have matte-black hood accents that block sun glare and serve to these vehicles look more sporty.


A 2.5-liter engine can be found in both vehicles, but a significant distinction is that the Outback can be upgraded with a turbocharged engine. That turbo engine has a displacement of 2.4 liters and can crank out 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. This is much more than the 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque that the 2.5-liter engine can generate. It's something to consider if any prospective customer is someone who wants a more powerful vehicle.

The Outback is the stronger model in terms of towing, too. If it has a turbocharged engine, it can tow an impressive 3,500 pounds. Even if it has the regular engine, it can tow up to 2,700 pounds. Even though the Forester has that same standard engine, it can't haul as much weight. It just has't been designed with that in mind, as its towing capacity is a fairly standard 1,500 pounds. An exception is the Forester Wilderness, which can haul up to 3,000 pounds.

Subaru has paired the engines of these vehicles with Lineartronic continuously variable transmissions. Across the Outback lineup, all trims have an eight-speed manual mode that drivers can use, if they wish. The Forester Wilderness has an eight-speed manual mode as well, with several other trims having a seven-speed manual mode. The first two Forester trims don't have this option.

As mentioned, and as many prospective customers are already aware of, the Outback and Forester have standard symmetrical all-wheel drive. In addition, they can have X-MODE, which can enhance their traction when they're facing difficult conditions. X-MODE is standard in all trims of the Outback and all but one trim of the Forester. Any trim that has X-MODE would also have Hill Descent Control. This program can be engaged whenever a driver wants to limit speed when descending.

Fuel economy isn't an area in which these vehicles stand out. They do fine, but obviously they could do better if they had hybrid options. Most trims of the Forester have an estimated fuel efficiency of 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway. The Wilderness trim has an estimated mileage of 25/28 (city/highway) miles per gallon.

The Outback Wilderness doesn't even hit that mark. It has an estimated fuel economy of 22/26 miles per gallon. The Outback XT trims, which are the ones at the top of the lineup that have turbocharged engines, can earn 23/30 miles per gallon. The ones with the regular engines can achieve 26/33 miles per gallon, which matches what the Forester can do.

Comfort, Options and Performance

These SUVs are definitely comfortable. They start out with manually adjustable front seats, but most of their lineup has power-adjustable driver's seats. Along with this, they can have power-adjustable front-passenger's seats. Most trims, in addition, have heated front seats.

Some higher trims of the Outback are upgraded with ventilation in their front seats. This, unfortunately, is not an option with the Forester. As touched on before, there are trims of the Outback that take things a bit further in regards to luxury. Those are the Touring and Touring XT trims. These two trims have heated steering wheels on top of their ventilated and heated front seats. There is one additional Outback trim that has a heated steering wheel, and the Touring trim of the Forester has that feature, too.

Rear-seat passengers can potentially get to enjoy some extra warmth in the winter. The Forester Touring has heated rear outboard seats, and so do six out of the eight Outback trims.

Choices for seating material are slightly different between the two Subarus. Their lower trims have cloth upholstery. Mid-level Foresters can have sport cloth seats with orange stitching or StarTex, which is a water-repellent upholstery. The top two Foresters have leather seats.

Mid-level Outbacks get to have leather upholstery. The Onyx Edition XT and Wilderness have StarTex material on their seats, and the Touring and Touring XT are set up with more sophisticated Nappa leather seats.

It makes sense that there are some similar amenities in these models. They both have an available keyless access system, and they both have automatic climate control, with dual-zone climate control being found on most trims. The Outback can be enhanced with a cargo-area cover as well as an auto-dimming mirror that has a compass and HomeLink technology. Its driver's seat and side mirrors can be programmed to remember two different positions, and it can be enhanced with a hands-free power rear gate.

While the Forester can have a memory system for its driver's seat and side mirrors, it doesn't have some of those other features just mentioned. It can have a power rear gate, but it's not a hands-free type. Its mirror doesn't have the auto-dimming function either.

The Forester does have two USB ports in its front row, which is very convenient. It can have two more in its back row. The same is true for the Outback.

A bigger contrast pops up when taking a close look at the multimedia system. The base trim of the Outback has a seven-inch touchscreen, which isn't too far off of the 6.5-inch touchscreen found in the first two Forester trims. However, the other Outbacks have 11.6-inch screens while the other Foresters have eight-inch touchscreens.

Three out of the eight Outbacks have navigation, and only one Forester has this function. Navigation is optional on several other trims in both lineups.

Wi-Fi capability is included on all Outbacks and Foresters except for their entry-level trims. Those first trims have four speakers, with others having six. Higher trims of both types of vehicle can have Harman Kardon sound systems. That premium sound system on the Outback offers 12 speakers, but the Forester only gets to have nine Harman Kardon speakers.


Customers will be pleased to hear that Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package is included with all Outbacks and Foresters. That package includes pre-collision warning and automatic emergency braking, and it comes with adaptive cruise control. On the Forester, the safety suite has lane departure warning, while on the Outback, it has lane keep assist. This program can warn drivers when they're veering out of position and can help them correct steering.

Automatic high beams are integrated into both vehicles, so that people don't have to worry about remembering to turn them on or off. Higher trims of these models have blind-spot detection and lane change assist. These can be useful since it's not always easy to know when other vehicles are in someone's blind spot. They can also have rear cross-traffic alert and reverse automatic braking. These two things may be utilized more than people expect, especially in busy parking lots.

The Forester Wilderness has a 180-degree front-view monitor. Four Outback trims have this type of monitor. It can provide assistance when it's hard to see obstacles or trace an exact path when going off-roading.

Which Model to Choose?

There is more variation in the Outback lineup, since there are eight total trims. The lineup starts off with the base model, which costs $27,645. There are four trims that have the standard 2.5-liter engine, and then there are four that have the turbocharged engine. The range of prices amongst the turbocharged Outbacks is between $35,845 and $40,645. The Outback seems like a very practical vehicle, but many of its models aren't cheap.

With a base price of under $26,000, the Forester is the more economical choice. It has six total trims, with four of them costing more than $30,000. The two most expensive are the Wilderness, which costs about $33,500, and the Touring, which has a price of just about $36,000.

Is the turbocharged engine in the Outback worth its extra cost? Some might be happier with it, especially if they plan to tow cargo or head into rugged terrain. In that case, it's an obvious choice to go with the Outback.

For most situations, though, the Forester will be perfectly adequate, and its all-wheel drive will be helpful at times. It might not have as much interior space and high-end amenities as the Outback, but it's a solid option and will keep most people satisfied. If anyone prefers something extra, then that customer should probably go with the Outback for its larger touchscreen, nicer amenities, and bigger cabin.

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2021 Subaru Outback VS Forester
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