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2022 Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander

2022 Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander
Reviewed & fact checked by
James Murdoch

2022 Outback vs Highlander - How Do They Stack Up? Which is Better?

Both the 2022 Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander boast exceptional capability, comfort in their cabins, advanced technology features, as well as a competitive price tag. With different powertrain options available on both vehicles to choose from however; it can be difficult for consumers to make an informed decision between them.

The Powertrain

Subaru and Toyota have provided SUV drivers with an array of robust engine options. For those seeking a powerful yet economical drive, the 2.5-liter or turbocharged 2.4-liter offerings from Subaru might fit the bill; alternatively, for more heft under the hood, Toyota's 3.5L V6 provides plenty of torque without sacrificing fuel efficiency through its hybrid system option.

The Subaru Outback shows true strength and power with its range of engine options. Its 2.5-liter base model is no slouch, producing 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque - more than enough to take on everyday driving needs. But if you're after some serious acceleration capability, the turbocharged offering packs a punch that'll make your heart race: With an impressive 260 horses under the hood combined with 277 foot pounds of torque roaring out from beneath the bonnet.

The turbocharged engine on this SUV gives it the muscle to pack a real punch when it comes to hauling; boasting an impressive 3,500 pounds of tow capacity. Even with just the standard engine you can rest assured that 2,700 pound load won't be too much for her – easily surpassing what many other SUVs are capable of.

Subaru put the same type of transmission in both engines. They call it Lineartronic continuously variable transmission, and it comes with an eight-speed manual mode.

As many people may already know, the Outback standard comes with all-wheel drive. This system can determine how best to send power to the front and rear wheels, and it's always ready to make adjustments. X-MODE is another standard component. It strengthens all-wheel-drive capability, and it can be useful when dealing with snowy or muddy conditions.

The 2022 Outback's standard and turbocharged engine models offer impressive fuel efficiency to satisfy any driver. With an estimated 26 miles per gallon in the city, it can reach up to 33 on the highway - making for a respectable overall average of 29 mpg combined. For those who choose the sporty turbocharge option, expect cities roads yielding 23 mpg with highways granting 30; still well above many similar cars in its class.

The Outback Wilderness trim is the ultimate adventure vehicle, featuring an impressive turbocharged engine that's been optimized for climbing over more challenging terrain. With its enhanced X-MODE system and all-terrain tires, you'll never be held back no matter what kind of environment you find yourself in - it can even handle extreme conditions like deep snow and mud! On top of this formidable capability comes a 22/26 city/highway MPG rating to keep your explorations going further than ever before.

The Highlander Hybrid is a powerhouse of efficiency and torque. Combining its 2.5-liter engine with electric motors, the hybrid enables 243 net horsepower – powerful enough to deliver an impressive 3,500 pounds of reliable towing capacity. On top of that incredible performance comes outstanding fuel economy; 35 miles per gallon in city driving and 36 on highways mean you can cover great distances without wasting gas or money! Additionally, both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) & All Wheel Drive (AWD) options are available for maximum control over slippery surfaces.

You can choose a regular type of engine for the SUV which is called a traditional powertrain. This engine is 3.5 liters in size and has six cylinders (called a V6). It can make the SUV go fast with 295 horsepower and move heavy things with 263 pound-feet of force. It can also pull things that weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

When it comes to the Highlander, drivers can choose between front-wheel and all-wheel drive. But with added capability of all wheel drive, you'll also get an extra bonus: a Multi-Terrain Select dial that gives you access to Mud & Sand mode for those soft surfaces or Rock & Dirt for navigating rougher terrain. While Hybrid Highlanders are enabled with Trail Mode instead of selecting from these modes individually, non hybrids still have Sport , Eco and Normal Modes as well as Snow Mode in case they find themselves driving through wintry weather conditions.

With its efficient V6 engine, the 2022 Highlander can deliver impressive fuel economy: up to 21 MPG in cities and 29 MPG on highways when equipped with front-wheel drive. Models that feature all-wheel drive provide a slight decrease in performance but still offer an admirable 20/27 city highway rating respectively.

Toyota has equipped its Highlanders with a transmission designed to maximize driving performance and efficiency. Non-hybrid models feature an 8-speed direct shift automatic while hybrids are fitted with electronically controlled continuously variable transmissions - ensuring that all drivers experience smooth, seamless shifts regardless of their powertrain choice.

What may be noticeable is the upgraded suspension that some Highlanders have. The XSE trim has a sport-tuned suspension. It discloses better handling with its stiffer suspension, and driving enthusiasts may prefer the way it feels. An XSE with all-wheel-drive, like a few other trims, also has a special system called Dynamic Torque Vectoring AWD. It can send power to each rear wheel, independent of the other, and this can be very useful when cornering or when facing slippery surfaces.


These vehicles are powerful, so people can drive them confidently in difficult terrains. Even if the vehicle is loaded down with a full cabin or when hauling cargo, these SUVs feel strong and robust.

For those needing extra space, the Highlander offers maximum versatility. It fits up to eight passengers in three rows of seating – perfect for large families or groups of friends getting around town together! Adequate legroom is provided with 42 and 41 inches on the first and second row respectively; ensuring even your tallest companion stays comfortable during journeys. The third-row seat still provides 27.7" legroom but could be suitable especially when smaller individuals are taking a ride back there!

The Highlander offers two different seating setups you can choose from. The first option has two bucket seats in the front and bench seats in the second and third rows. The benches can fit three people each, so you can bring along plenty of passengers. The second option is available in selective versions (mid-level and higher trims) of the Highlander, and it swaps out the middle bench for a pair of captain's chairs. This makes the cabin feel more spacious and makes it easier for people to get in and out of the third row. However, this option reduces the number of seats to seven in total.

The Subaru Outback maximizes its space, offering up ample legroom for the first and second row occupants with 42.8 inches in front and 39.5 inches at the back respectively; creating a comfortable ride for five passengers to enjoy on their journey together. In addition, it provides optimal storage solutions as well - 32 cubic feet of cargo behind each seat or 76 when both rows are folded down.

The Highlander is the leader in cargo capacity. With all rear seats folded down, 84 cubic feet of space can provide plenty for any hauling mission- well over double what is offered with other models such as its 16 cubic foot stock third row option and 48.4 behind that! As an additional bonus, each side of the rear bench folds independently so smart drivers know they can keep one seat up if maximum storage area isn't necessary; every inch matters when carrying gear on longer trips.

The Highlander and Outback may seem similar in size by looks alone, but the Highlander has a significant edge - an extra six inches. This additional length gives it enough wiggle room to fit one more row of seats over its smaller counterpart's capacity, making the highlander perfect for larger families who need those few extra spots Nailing down that last available seat!

The Highlander has a ground clearance of eight inches, while the Outback has a ground clearance of 8.7 inches. The Wilderness trim rides even higher, having a ground clearance of 9.5 inches.

Both SUVs have many features that drivers will appreciate, apart from their sizes. The Subaru Outback, for example, has automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control, and automatic climate control as standard features. In many versions, the climate control has two zones, and there are push-button start and hands-free power rear gates. At the top of the lineup, the Outback also offers heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel too.

The Highlander is a feature-packed ride, boasting many high-tech options. From the smart key system and push button start on even its entry level trim to advanced tech like digital rearview mirror, head up display and bird's eye view all around monitor in every model - it has something for everyone! And if you're looking for a little extra comfort? You'll appreciate heating elements in both the second row seats and steering wheel as well as heated AND ventilated front seats.

To keep everyone's devices charged, these vehicles can have several charging ports. All trims of the Highlander have a total of five USB ports, and select models have wireless charging pads, too. Wireless charging is not available in the Outback at this point. The Outback's base trim has two USB ports in the front row, and all the others have two front USB ports as well as two USB ports in the back row.

Outback drivers can up their tech game with a variety of options. From the entry-level trim's 7" touchscreen to higher trims' 11.6", each comes equipped for Wi-Fi access, and some even feature built-in navigation capability - though that can be added on almost every other model too! Those wanting extra audio quality will appreciate the advanced set ups using Harman Kardon speakers, available in 4, 6, or 12 speaker configurations.

The Highlander trims stand out from the competition with their interactive 8-inch touchscreen featuring Amazon Alexa. This advanced infotainment system provides a unique touch to Toyota vehicles - making them truly one of a kind.

Every Highlander has state-of-the art Wi-Fi Connect so you're always connected, no matter where the journey takes you. At more premium levels of the lineup, navigation and sound systems come standard - with Platinum models featuring 11 speakers for maximum audiophile satisfaction as well as a 12.3" touchscreen to give your setup that true tech edge.


Toyota has more available safety components, since it can come with the 360-degree camera and heads-up display, as mentioned above. Every Highlander has a full set of driver-assist technologies. They include pre-collision braking and pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and the corresponding steering mitigation system, and road sign assist. All trims, expect the first one, have blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Automatic high beams are standard as well.

With advanced safety features such as automatic high beams and emergency braking, the Outback provides drivers with enhanced security on their journeys. Additionally, its lane keep assist technology keeps cars smoothly within their lanes while a warning system alerts when drifting begins to occur.

However, the Outback doesn't have road sign assist. Blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alert aren't offered on the first trim and are optional on the second; they become standard with the Limited trim, which is the third one in the lineup. The Limited trim is also the level at which reverse automatic braking becomes standard.

The Highlander is designed for convenience and safety - with the available Parking Assist program, drivers can rest assured that even at slow speeds their SUV will be ready to intervene if an imminent accident or collision appears. With Automatic Braking engaged in these situations, drivers have one less worry on the roadway.

Which Has the Best Value?

The Highlander range of vehicles begins at the affordable price point of $35,855. Adventurous thrill-seekers can upgrade to an AWD drivetrain for a modest extra fee while eco-friendly savvy drivers will love the hybrid options available on several trims that add around only $1,500 in additional costs. For those who simply want it all, Toyota's Hybrid Platinum tops off their lineup with near luxury features for just under 50K.

With eight trims available, the 2022 Outback offers excellent value for those looking to save a few bucks. Starting at just $27,645 and including all-wheel drive as standard makes it an attractive proposition - but beware of their pricier turbocharged engine options which can set you back up to $40,645.

After weighing the options, it's clear that the 2022 Highlander is a better buy for those looking to get more bang for their buck. With its deluxe features and spacious interior design, this vehicle has all of your needs covered – providing capabilities sure to outperform any similar class car!

Which is Better?

The biggest question the prospective buyer should ask himself/herself is, whether he/she needs the power and seating that the Highlander offers. If the answer is yes, then it would be a good fit. Otherwise, the capable and relatively spacious Outback could be the smart choice.

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2021 Subaru Outback VS Toyota Highlander