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2022 Subaru Outback vs Forester

2022 Subaru Outback vs Forester
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

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

Subarus have earned devoted fans throughout the years, all due to the persistence, feasibility, and performance of their vehicles. The most well-known models of the company are the Outback and Forester, both of which are popular SUVs with two rows of seats, ample storage capacity, and all-wheel drive as a standard feature. While these vehicles share many similarities, there are also key differences that we will explore in this overview.

Size and Styling

The two vehicles exhibit variations in size. The Forester is moderately taller by approximately 1.5 inches, whereas the Outback surpasses it in both length and width. Despite having a similar difference in width, the Outback prevails due to its overall length, measuring approximately 191.3 inches, which is nearly nine inches longer than the Forester.

The Forester boasts a classic SUV appearance, standing tall and upright, with a sporty look. In contrast, the Outback takes on a more wagon-like shape, distinguishing itself with a slightly different design. If you need to park either vehicle, you'll quickly notice the Outback's extra length.

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.

The Subaru Forester and Outback offer plenty of room for passengers: with 43.3 and 42.8 inches, respectively, in the first row alone - more than enough to give everyone a comfortable ride! If that weren't enough both cars boast impressive interior volumes; at over 100 cubic feet there's no shortage of space inside either SUV model.

Subarus boast exceptional cargo volume capabilities. Behind the rear seats, Outback models offer 32.5 cubic feet of space and Forester models provide 28.9 cubic feet – but when those backseats are folded down, capacity skyrockets to 75.7 in the former model and 74.2 for the latter - making them ideal vehicles for buyers who prioritize storage potential along with their other needs.

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 a body color i.e black, or satin chrome mirror. Another functionality 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 offer an additional exterior feature that people might find useful. The majority of its trims come equipped with de-icers built into their front and rear wipers. Which can prove to be handy during a drop in temperature which could lead to ice formation in the front and rear glasses.

These vehicles have the same type of styling i.e, rounded edges as opposed to more angular ones as 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. Likely, 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.


With the Outback, you have access to an upgrade that brings superior strength. The turbocharged engine can pump out as much as 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque - more than enough power for those who crave it in a vehicle. Meanwhile, its counterpart offers only 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque by comparison. If serious performance is your priority when making a decision between these two cars, then this should be taken into consideration.

If towing power is what you're after, the Outback is a more fitting choice. It boasts a maximum towing capacity of 2,700 pounds with the standard engine and up to 3,500 pounds with a turbocharged engine. In contrast, despite sharing the same standard engine as the Outback, the Forester can only manage a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 pounds due to design constraints. Nevertheless, the Forester Wilderness model is an exception, capable of towing 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 which has turbocharged engines, can earn 23/30 miles per gallon. The ones with 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.

The Outback cars in the middle range have seats made of leather upholstery. However, the Onyx Edition XT and Wilderness models have seats made of a special material called StarTex. The Touring and Touring XT cars have really pleasant seats made of prime Nappa leather for a splendid feel inside.

It makes sense that there are some similar utilities in these models. They both possess 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 Home Link 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 that's not hands-free. Its mirror doesn't possess the auto-dimming function either.

The Forester and the Outback both have these features in common i.e two USB ports in the front row, allowing you to easily and comfortably use your devices. In addition, if you need even more ports, you can choose to have two additional ones in the back row too.

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.


Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package is equipped in both the Outback and Forester, which is great news for customers. This package encompasses features like a pre-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. In addition, Forester's safety suite includes a lane departure warning, while the Outback's includes lane keep assistance. The program is basically designed to alert drivers when they are diverging off track and can assist in correcting 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 exists 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 trims that have the turbocharged engine. The range of prices amongst the turbocharged Outback is between $35,845 and $40,645. Although The Outback seems like a very practical vehicle, many of its models aren't cheap.

Delivering premium features at an affordable cost, the Forester is a great choice for any budget. Offering six trims ranging from $26,000 to just over $33K it caters to those who want superior performance without breaking the bank. For added luxury and power in one sleek package, customers can opt for either the Wilderness or Touring trim - both priced around a respective $33k and $36K.

For those individuals looking to take their car on an adventure and conquer bouncy, rough terrains - along with the task of towing cargo – investing in a turbocharged engine via the Outback might be your best bet. Though it comes at extra cost, making this decision can be easy as pie.

Boasting robust all-wheel drive capabilities, the Forester makes an excellent choice for those seeking reliable performance. Despite lacking some of the luxurious features and spaciousness inside as its counterpart - Outback - it still offers a solid option to satisfy most needs. Of course, if you are after opulence then look no further than the Outback with its larger touchscreen display, deluxe inclusions, and roomy interior cabin.
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2021 Subaru Outback VS Forester