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2022 Subaru Outback vs Toyota RAV4

2022 Subaru Outback vs Toyota RAV4

2022 Outback vs RAV4 - How Do They Stack Up? Which is Better?

The Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Outback are both known as durable, practical SUVs that can handle a lot. They both have two rows of seats and plenty of space for gear, and they're made by well-established companies that have reputations for designing safe, reliable vehicles. The Outback and RAV4 have been around for a long time, and they've gained many fans. The 2022 versions of the vehicles are quite impressive. This overview will highlight what they to offer as well as outline ways in which the two SUVs differ from each other.

The Powertrain

Two options are available with the Subaru Outback. Trims in the first half of the lineup use 2.5-liter engines that deliver 182 horsepower and 176 pound-feet of torque. This engine gives the Outback a towing capacity of 2,700 pounds.

The top half of the Subaru lineup consists of the Onyx Edition XT, Wilderness, Limited XT, and Touring XT. Each of these is powered by a 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. It's much more powerful than the other one, coming with 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque. With this stronger engine, towing capacity is increased to 3,500 pounds.

With either engine, the Outback uses a Lineartronic continuously variable transmission. All-wheel drive is standard, and so is X-MODE. X-MODE enhances traction when the conditions are tough to deal with, such as when the vehicle is traveling through snow or mud. All Outbacks have hill descent control, a program that can be engaged when someone doesn't want to pick up too much speed when coming down from the mountains. Active torque vectoring and traction control are also standard components.

If anyone is planning on traversing through rugged terrain on a regular basis, then the Wilderness trim would probably the best choice out of all the Outbacks. It has 9.5 inches of ground clearance instead of 8.7 inches like the other trims have. It's been designed with more ideal approach and departure angles for clearing obstacles, and it comes standard with all-terrain tires and off-road wheels. Further, it has re-tuned gearing so that it can climb steep slopes with greater ease.

Toyota makes some trims of the RAV4 that are on the tougher side, too. The Adventure and TRD Off-Road trims, as well as a few others, come standard with dynamic torque vectoring all-wheel drive, which can send more power to either the left or right rear wheel if the situation calls for it. The TRD Off-Road has TRD-tuned suspension and all-terrain tires. These trims have a Multi-Terrain Select dial that allows people to choose from mud and sand, rock and dirt, snow, and normal modes. This is similar to the X-MODE on the Outback. Plus, many RAV4s have downhill assist control.

The Hybrid SE and Hybrid XSE get to have a different suspension from the rest of the trims. They have sport-tuned suspension, so they have better handling. The stiffer suspension is not as forgiving as a basic one, but some prefer it because it gives them a closer connection with the road and makes a difference when cornering at higher speeds. All RAV4s also have active cornering assist to help with this.

Since there are 12 RAV4 trims, there's a lot of variation in the lineup. When it comes to engines, though, there are two options. The standard one is a 2.5-liter engine that comes with 203 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, and the other is a 2.5-liter engine that works with a pair of electric motors to deliver a net horsepower of 219. Besides the available drive modes mentioned above as part of the Multi-Terrain Select feature, RAV4s have sport, eco, and normal drive modes. The hybrids have the addition of EV and trail mode.

The RAV4's standard engine is slightly more powerful than that of the Outback, and the alternate engines for the two vehicles offer different things. Whereas Subaru went with a turbocharged engine for some of its trims, Toyota decided to go a different route several years ago and started making hybrid versions of the RAV4.

There actually is a more powerful RAV4 available, and that's the plug-in hybrid called the RAV4 Prime. Thanks to its strong motor and robust battery, it has 302 horsepower. Since the RAV4 Prime is kind of in its own class, this overview will just concentrate on the regular RAV4 and the hybrid version.

If the RAV4 has the traditional engine, it could have front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The hybrids are all automatically equipped with electronic on-demand all-wheel drive. Hybrids sit 8.1 inches off the ground, and non-hybrids have a ground clearance of 8.6 inches.

Unfortunately, the RAV4 is not as capable as the Outback when it comes to towing. Its regular trims have a towing capacity of 1,500 pounds, and the hybrids can tow up to 1,750 pounds. This is half the amount that the turbocharged Outbacks can haul.

Fuel efficiency is an important area to discuss. The RAV4 does pretty well in this area. With front-wheel drive and the standard engine, the SUV can earn up to 27/35 (city/highway) miles per gallon. With all-wheel drive, fuel economy drops very slightly to 27/34 miles per gallon.

The Subaru Outbacks that use the regular 2.5-liter engines are in the same range, having a fuel economy of 26/33 miles per gallon. Remember that this is with all-wheel drive. The XT models that have turbocharged engines have a fuel economy of 23/30 miles per gallon, and the more powerful Wilderness trim can only achieve 22/26 miles per gallon.

The hybrid RAV4s really stand out in this regard. They're able to earn up to 41 miles per gallon in the city and 38 miles per gallon on the highway. Clearly, they are far superior to the others in terms of using less fuel.


These SUVs feel responsive and agile. They give the driver a fairly high stance from which she/he can see the road.

The Toyota RAV4 has a length of 180.9 inches and is roomy enough to fit three in its back seat. It has 37.8 inches of rear-seat leg room and 41 inches of space in its front row. Behind its rear seat, it has a cargo area that has a volume of nearly 38 cubic feet. That can be expanded to almost 70 cubic feet when the rear seatbacks have been folded down.

Note that the Outback is longer than the RAV4 is by just over ten inches. This may make a difference when parking in smaller spaces. The Outback is an inch shorter than the RAV4 is, but this doesn't make too much of an impact.

In the front seat of the Outback, there's 42.8 inches of leg room. Back-seat passengers will appreciate having 39.5 inches of leg room. The area behind the rear seats isn't as big as what the RAV4 has. This rear cargo capacity in the Outback measures 32.5 cubic feet. However, when the rear seats have been lowered, cargo volume expands to 75.7 cubic feet, which is more than what the Toyota SUV offers.

Amenities can play a major role in the overall driving experience. It can be nice to have power-adjustable front seats with heated and possible ventilation, and that's what both models offer. They can even be enhanced with heated rear seats and heated steering wheels. The Outback is the only model out of the two that has available leather upholstery. Instead, the top trims of the RAV4 have SofTex upholstery, which is a synthetic leather.

Accent lights, small storage compartments, and smart key entry with push button start can be found in both models. While the Outback can have up to four total USB ports, the RAV4 can have a total of five USB ports plus a wireless charging pad. Those who travel with more than one mobile device or with passengers who each have their own devices will be glad to hear about all of these charging options.

Both the Outback and RAV4 start out with seven-inch touchscreens that have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Bluetooth. SiriusXM is standard with the two vehicles, but only the RAV4 has Amazon Alexa. Wi-Fi compatibility is included with every RAV4 trim; for the Outback, it's included with every trim except for the entry-level one.

The entry-level Outback is actually the only trim that has the seven-inch touchscreen. All the rest have 11.6-inch touchscreens, with several having integrated navigation and premium Harman Kardon sound systems with 12 speakers.

Lower and mid-level RAV4 trims have seven-inch touchscreens with the equipment mentioned above. Select trims can have nine-inch touchscreens. That touchscreen can be upgraded with integrated navigation as well as 11-speaker JBL sound systems.


The industry has made great strides in regards to safety. The Outback and RAV4 have rear-view cameras and numerous monitoring and mitigation systems that can reduce the chances of being involved in certain types of accidents. With frontal collision warning, drivers are alerted when they're approaching other vehicles too quickly, and automatic emergency braking is ready to engage at any point.

These vehicles are set up with adaptive cruise control, which can be useful on long stretches of road. Adaptive cruise control can hold a set speed and can adjust that speed if necessary. These models also have the ability to turn their high beams on and off, depending on whether other lights are detected, and they can keep themselves center in their positions.

Higher trims get to have more equipment, including blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. The RAV4 is available with a bird's eye view camera that gives a 360-degree perspective of the vehicle when it's making maneuvers at low speed. In comparison, the Outback is available with a 180-degree front-view monitor. This can help drivers see obstacles in the road ahead. Other available features on the Outback are the DriverFocus distraction mitigation system and reverse automatic braking, and the RAV4 can be set up with front and rear parking assist with automatic braking.

Which Has the Best Value?

These vehicles have reasonable prices, at least when looking at the lower trims. The base trim of the Outback costs $27,645, and the next trim is priced just below $30,000. Three RAV4 trims - the LE, Hybrid LE, and the XLE - are priced under that mark, with the LE being the most affordable at $26,975. This cost, though, applies to a model with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive costs a bit extra for the Toyota but is already factored into the cost of the Subaru.

The nicer trims start to have more expensive price tags. For example, the fully decked out Subaru Touring costs more than $38,000, and the Touring XT with the turbocharged engine costs a little more than $40,000. That turbocharged engine may be worth it to some buyers, especially those who love to accelerate quickly and/or have plans on towing cargo.

Toyota has managed to cap the price of the RAV4 at $38,075. That's what it costs to get a Hybrid Limited. The regular Limited is priced at $35,475, which isn't too bad considering all of the high-tech equipment and more upscale amenities that it has.

In reality, both vehicles have great value, though the RAV4 is more affordable. It might not have the same wow factor that the nicest trims of the Outback have. For instance, it doesn't have leather seats or a touchscreen that's as large as the one on the Outback.

Which is Better?

With eight Outback trims and 12 RAV4 trims, potential buyers have a lot to consider. It's great that there is such a wide range of options. Those who want to keep their budgets low can be satisfied, and customers who feel like treating themselves to something special can feel free to do so.

There are specialized trims in both lineups. That being said, since the Outback has a higher ground clearance, a greater maximum cargo capacity, and standard all-wheel drive, it seems like the more adventurous vehicle. The Outback Wilderness is perfectly suited for off-roading escapades, and all vehicles can tow more than a decent amount. The available turbocharged engine makes for quite a thrilling experience, too.

The RAV4 can be at home in both the city and the backwoods, and the fact that it comes as a hybrid is a huge benefit. Anyone wanting to save money on gas will likely lean towards the RAV4. It's spacious enough to be very practical, and it has a solid engine under its hood.

With its taller stance and more traditional SUV frame, the RAV4 might have a more widespread appeal than the Outback. The Outback will attract a specific type of buyer, one who needs all-wheel drive and more interior space.

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2021 Subaru Outback VS Toyota RAV4
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