How Do You Pick Between the Subaru Outback and the Forester?

Comfort and functionally is the name of the game for the popular Subaru brand. Subaru has a variety of safe and reliable models in its lineup but the top-selling ones are the Outback and the Forester. Both of these models are similar and serve as alternatives to larger SUVs. But, there are key distinctions between the two. Which one best suits your needs?

Size and style matters

While the Outback and the Forester are alternative options to traditional SUVs, their body styles are classified differently. The Outback is technically a wagon and the Forester is considered as a crossover/compact  SUV. Technically, the Outback is bigger and heavier, but the Forester’s interior space is slightly more accommodating. The Forester also has room for more for cargo. Even so, both models are generally very comfortable and spacious.

Power and capability

Each variant of the Forester comes with the same 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that generates a 182 hp. The Forester doesn’t accelerate as quickly as the Outback, but it’s still a very satisfying ride. Plus, the Forester is versatile enough to appease outdoorsy folks and be considered as a great family-friendly crossover. 

Neither the Outback or Forester is known for having incredible power but a perk with Subaru is that you get standard all-wheel-drive. Between the two, the Outback is more capable. It features two four-cylinder options: a standard 182-hp 2.5-liter and an optional 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter. The Outback is also better for off-roading.

The Forester gets an excellent fuel economy rating with a combined 28 mpg while the Outback gets an average rating with a combined 24 mpg. 

Technology and safety

When it comes to infotainment, both the Outback and Forester have similar offerings. Although, the Outback’s infotainment display is a little fancier since it was redesigned for 2020; the Forester was redesigned for 2019. The base model Outbacks feature two 7-inch touchscreen displays and the higher trims include a large, vertical 11.6 touchscreen.

On the Forester’s base trims, a 6.5-inch touchscreen display is standard and an 8-inch touchscreen is available on the higher trims. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are standard on both the Outback and Forester. 

A wifi hotspot, built-in navigation system, and wireless charging are optional features on the Outback.  Built-in navigation is only available on the Forester’s Limited and Touring trims; a wifi hotspot is standard on each trim level except for the base model.

As far as safety goes, the Outback and Forester are great picks. Both models have earned high safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To help prevent crashes, both the Outback and Forester come with standard advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist.

Making your choice

If you’re looking for more power and capability, the Outback might be the better choice for you, plus it has a higher predicted reliability rating than the Forester. But, if you’re prioritizing sensibility and comfort, the Forester may be the better pick.