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The Forester and Outback are popular Subaru SUVs, but owners rate the smaller crossover higher in two key areas than the larger model. So, how does the compact 2024 Subaru Forester outperform the midsize Outback? And is there anything owners like more in the Outback than in the Forester?

2024 Subaru Forester owners are more satisfied than Outback owners in 2 areas

2024 Subaru Outback (shown) versus 2024 Subaru Forester
2024 Subaru Outback | Subaru

Every year, J.D. Power collects survey responses from vehicle owners and tabulates the results in four key areas. The four categories are Quality & Reliability, Driving Experience, Resale, and Dealership Experience. After compiling the data, the market research firm assigns ratings in each category on a 100-point scale. 

The Quality & Reliability score examines the number of defects, malfunctions, and design flaws reported by verified owners. All aspects of the vehicle come under review in this section, from powertrains to infotainment systems. A higher score indicates fewer problems. 

The Driving Experience rating involves owner feedback on the vehicle’s design, performance, comfort, functionality, safety, and technology. Models with advanced tech features and recent updates typically receive higher scores in this area. 

Meanwhile, the Resale score is J.D. Power’s estimate of a car’s depreciation over the next three years. Vehicles with low predicted depreciation get the highest Resale scores. 

Last, Dealership Experience rates the owner’s experience with the dealer when purchasing their vehicle or receiving service. Critical metrics for this category include customer service, dealership facilities, and the quality of work performed. 

Survey results show that the 2024 Subaru Forester scored higher than the 2024 Subaru Outback in two key areas: Quality & Reliability and Driving Experience. The Forester scored 84 points for Quality & Reliability and 81 points for Driving Experience, for a “great” rating in each category. In contrast, the Outback received an “average” rating in each category with scores of 80 and 77, respectively. J.D. Power awarded both Subies an 86 in Resale and 87 in Dealership Experience. 

Other than size, are these 2 Subaru SUVs all that different?

Let’s compare the 2024 Subaru Outback and 2024 Subaru Forester to help you decide which SUV is better for you.

Both models share Subaru’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, 8.7-inch minimum ground clearance, advanced safety features, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. 

Though the Outback is larger, the Forester is taller, and some consumers appreciate its elevated driving position and more compact body. Other owners report satisfaction with the Outback’s smoother ride due to its longer wheelbase and increased weight. 

Both models pack the same 182-hp Subaru Boxer engine as the standard powerplant for their base trims. However, the Outback offers a 260-hp turbocharged option in some of its higher trim levels. This engine gives the Outback up to a 3,500-pound towing capacity, compared to the typical Forester’s 1,500-pound limit. The sole Forester exception to that 1,500-pound towing limit is the Wilderness trim, with a 3,000-pound capacity. 

Most 2024 Forester and Outback trims have identical 8.7-inch ground clearance. However, if you need the maximum clearance, the Outback Wilderness provides the most with 9.5 inches. Compare that to the Forester Wilderness, with 9.2 inches. 

Though you might assume the midsize Outback provides more interior space, the measurements are closer than expected. The Forester has the lead in cubic feet of passenger room and boasts more headroom. However, the longer, wider Outback has more functional space, especially for oversized cargo. 

Comparing prices for the two models gives the 2024 Subaru Forester a slight lead. For example, Subaru starts the standard 2024 Forester at $27,095 and the Outback base model at $28,895. The range-topping Forester trim starts at $37,395, whereas the top-tier Outback has a $42,795 starting MSRP. 

If you’re considering these two Subaru SUVs, the choice will likely involve finding the one that fits you best. Would you prefer the smaller, nimbler Forester with its higher driving position? Or does the Outback’s longer, heavier body provide the smooth ride and cargo space you desire?