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Where I live, two of my neighbors drive two SUVs that you don’t realize are so similar in size until they park next to each other. The Lexus UX and the Subaru Outback cut a similar line in the parking lot, with similar-sized hatches, similar lengths, and when you look at the numbers, similar prices. But, the Outback has one trick up its sleeve that could make it a better luxury choice than the Lexus: the Limited Trim.

Is the 2023 Outback Limited that nice?

Subaru Outback interior | Subaru

Don’t let the Subaru name fool you, the 2023 Outback Limited SUV is that nice for $39,845. The Touring trim comes standard with leather upholstery, a moon roof, dual-zone climate control, a hands-free power rear gate, and 18-inch wheels. Heated and ventilated power seats in the front are standard, as is a giant touchscreen. The Outback was refreshed for 2023 with some new trim and new options, too.

But that’s not telling the full story. The Touring adds a leather-covered dash with contrast stitching, aluminum-look door panels, and lots of cubbies and pockets. Sure, the black plastic on the steering wheel column gives its roots away. But in Touring trim, you don’t notice it.

The Lexus UX has many of the same features

The back of a 2022 Lexus UX
2022 Lexus UX | Lexus

While the Subaru Outback Touring takes a utilitarian Subaru and dresses it up, Lexus designed the UX as a luxury SUV first. To that end, the Lexus UX comes standard with leather,

Also, while the Subaru takes more of a traditional leather-and-piano-black approach, Lexus took the tech approach to luxury. It has smartphone apps that connect you to the SUV and a voice-recognition system for most of the UX’s features. Lexus says the $35,925 UX is designed to appeal to younger buyers looking for their first luxury vehicle, and the tech reflects that as much as the Subaru’s cabin reflects its pet-loving, outdoor enthusiast core buyer.

These are both city SUVs

Sure, the Subaru has the rough stance of a go-anywhere SUV, and it looks good. But in Limited trim, it only has 8.7-inches of ground clearance. That’s enough to get through some mud or a light trail, but for more serious off-road ability look at the Wilderness trim, which adds about an inch of clearance.

The UX doesn’t make any off-road pretensions. It only has 6.3-inches of ground clearance. That’s Ok for city driving, to be sure, and it emphasizes sporty handling, especially with the F-Sport package, that the Subaru doesn’t. We’d sure hate to rip off that low-hanging grille on the first rock we see on a trail.

The Subaru outguns the UX under the hood, too

Safe and reliable SUV for teenagers include this Subaru Outback
The Subaru Outback SUV | Subaru

The UX only comes in one version for 2023, the UX250H. The hybrid drive system makes a total of 181 horsepower with all-wheel drive. It’s the luxury version of the Toyota C-HR runabout. Lexus discontinued the UX200 after 2022, but there are still some available at dealers. According to Car and Driver, you can get the hybrid as either a front-wheel drive SUV, or an all-wheel drive SUV.

The Subaru, like all Subarus, comes standard with all-wheel drive. The base motor makes 182 horsepower, while the 2023 Outback Limited gets the upgraded 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The Subaru and the Lexus both, however, have a continuously variable transmission, or CVT, that can be a deal breaker for many.


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