How Does the Toyota 4Runner Stack Up Against the Subaru Outback?

Many of today’s midsize SUVs are gentle cruisers, but there are also a few rugged options to consider. Two of the most adventurous midsize SUVs are the Toyota 4Runner and the Subaru Outback. How do these models stack up against each other?

What the 2021 Toyota 4Runner has to offer 

2021 Toyota 4Runner on display with new lunar paint color
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

Unlike the RAV4 and the Highlander, Toyota’s 4Runner is an off-road-oriented SUV. That said, the 4Runner is a truck-based model that’s impressive on the trails than on city streets. The 2021 4Runner returns with the same old-school 270-hp, 4.0-liter V6 engine and a five-speed automatic transmission.

The 4Runner is standard with 9.6 inches of ground clearance, which contributes to its exceptional off-roading ability. If you plan on doing extreme adventures, you’ll want to consider the TRD trims. The TRD trims replace the 4Runner’s standard rear-wheel drive system with four-wheel drive; these models also come with more performance equipment. 

2020 Toyota 4Runner interior
2020 Toyota 4Runner interior | Toyota

Even though Toyota hasn’t updated the 4Runner’s powertrain in a while, the carmaker has made its interior more modern. The 4Runner seats up to five in its standard configuration; seven if you opt for the available third-row. Overall, this SUV is spacious and comes with desirable in-car tech.

Critics, including U.S. News especially, appreciate the 4Runner for its easy to see and easy to reach infotainment system. Standard infotainment features for the 4Runner include an 8-inch touchscreen, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa, and a wifi hotspot. The SUV also comes with advanced safety equipment such as forward-collision warning and pedestrian detection.

What the 2021 Subaru Outback has to offer 

A Subaru Outback on display at an auto show
A Subaru Outback | David McNew/Getty Images

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Subaru’s Outback is one of the most beloved cars in today’s current market. This Subie blends the best qualities of a wagon and a midsize SUV. Highlights of the Outback include its fuel economy and standard all-wheel-drive. The Outback doesn’t have the same off-road chops as the 4Runner, but it’s still capable on the trails. In addition to its AWD system, the Outback has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and an X-mode off-road setting. 

Base Outbacks will have a 182-hp, 2.50liter four-cylinder and a continuously variable automatic. The base engine is suitable for everyday driving situations, but the optional one earns more praise. For more power, go up to the Outback’s XT trim, which has a turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 260-hp. No matter which one you choose, the Outback is a comfortable ride and is more impressive on cement than the 4Runner.

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

The Outback impresses with its upscale interior too. It can seat up to five people comfortably and offers convenient storage spaces. Furthermore, safety is also a highlight of the Outback.

This wagon comes with Subaru’s advanced safety features, such as forward automatic emergency braking. Like the 4Runner, the Outback provides connectivity features, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the Outback’s infotainment interface isn’t as user friendly.

Deciding between the 4Runner and Outback

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A 2021 4Runner begins at 36,340, and a 2021 Outback starts at $26,795. The Outback is obviously more affordable and well-rounded. But if your priorities are off-roading, the 4Runner is the better pick.