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2020 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Why Is It So Hard to Choose?

Subaru offers a variety of adventuresome vehicles, each with their own unique flair. While this a great thing, it can make choosing the right one for you more challenging. Take the 2020 Subaru Forester and the 2020 Subaru Outback, for example. For some, it might be hard to choose between the two because these vehicles are so similar. Although the Forester and the Outback present different advantages, we’re here to help highlight the differences. 

Which one is better for off-roading, the Forester, or the Outback?

2019 Subaru Forester Sport parked in front of mountains
Subaru Forester Sport | Subaru

Both the Forester and the Outback are capable of handling moderate off-road adventures. They also have the same ground clearance of 8.7 inches and are standard with all-wheel-drive. The Outback has an edge here, though. 

All Outbacks are standard with Subaru’s X-Mode function and hill descent control. The base Forester doesn’t come with the X-Mode and the hill descent control functions, but all upper trims do. Subaru’s performance features make the Forester and the Outback standouts in their respective classes. The Forester is the only compact SUV that’s standard with AWD; the Outback is both an excellent wagon and midsize SUV. 

The Outback presents more power 

2020 Subaru Outback Off Roading
2020 Subaru Outback | Subaru

RELATED: 3 Reasons To Pick the Subaru Forester Over the Jeep Cherokee

Foresters and Outbacks come with the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182-horsepower. This four-cylinder makes for a comfortable ride, and it’s pretty fuel-efficient too. The main critique here is that some reviewers find the base engine to be lackluster at times. Despite this criticism, the Forester is successful, even with one engine choice.

But if it’s more power you crave, the Outback is the way to go. Unlike the Forester, the Outback has an available 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that creates 260-hp. U.S. News notes that the Outback’s optional turbo-four is noticeably quicker than the four-cylinder. Some reviewers also think that the turbo-four pairs better with the continuously variable automatic transmission than the base engine. 

Both offer attractive interiors

2020 Subaru Outback interior fitted with Java Brown Nappa Leather.
2020 Touring Outback Interior | Subaru

RELATED: The 2017 Subaru Outback Is a Winning Wagon

Neither the Forester nor the Outback disappoints on the inside, especially if you’re a minimalist. These Subarus seat five people and offer generous space for other items that you need to haul. Cloth upholstery is standard on both, with amenities including leather available. 

In-car tech is also a highlight for the Forester and the Outback. Connectivity features, including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, are standard on both. However, there are a few differences. The Forester comes with a 6.5-inch touchscreen and has an 8-inch one available. A 7-inch touchscreen is standard on the Outback; an 11.6-inch display is optional. The Outback also has more infotainment upgrades than the Forester, including wireless device charging. 

Subaru’s EyeSight driver’s assistance suite is standard on the Forester and the Outback. These features include adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning. Subaru’s Eyesight already makes the brand a standout, and it’s placing a greater emphasis on safety for years to come. 

Making your decision 

The Forester and the Outback have earned loyal fans and solid reliability ratings. These models are also great on and off-road. Choosing between the two comes down to what your priorities are. The 2020 Forester starts at $24,495; the 2020 Outback begins at $26,645. The Forester is a great value buy while the Outback appeals to those who want a few more amenities.