Skip to main content

Let’s face it, sometimes it’s hard to figure out which Subaru SUV is which unless you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Subie fan. But, for SUV buyers looking for a Subaru SUV guide, the company’s gas-powered SUVs come in four flavors; small, medium, extra medium, and large.

The Crosstrek, Forester, Outback, and Ascent all have a few things in common. They’re all all-wheel drive. They can tackle mild off-road situations. They look, and drive, like tall station wagons instead of trucks with back seats. That’s not a bad thing. They all have four-cylinder engines that have a unique Subaru bark to them. They

For 2023 the all-electric Solterra will join the Subaru lineup and have many of the same traits that have made Subaru’s popular, including the all-wheel drive. The Solterra will be a five-passenger SUV that, in size at least, will slot between the Forester and the Outback.

Crosstrek: the smallest Subaru SUV

A white 2022 Subaru Crosstrek in a green field with a barn behind it that is a part of the car sales industry.
2022 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru of America, Inc.

EPA Classification: Small SUV

Length: 176.5

Seats five


The Crosstrek may be the smallest, and least expensive, Subaru SUV. But it comes standard with one thing that the others don’t: a manual transmission. A CVT is optional. You can order a Crosstrek as a hybrid, but it only comes fully loaded and is more than $36,000. It’s a bit smaller on the inside than a Forester, but it does get better gas mileage and is rated at 34 mpg on the highway. It has the same engine as the Forester. The Crosstrek is a bit more carlike and feels more nimble around town.

Forester: a roomier step up

The 2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness compact SUV parked on a leaf-covered path within a forest
2022 Subaru Forester Wilderness | Subaru of America

EPA Classification: Small SUV

Length: 182.7 inches

Seats five

Cargo Area 69.9 inches


The Forester was updated for 2022 with a mild makeover that gave it a tougher appearance. The new cladding on the front makes it look like it can tackle the fun stuff. However, the Forester comes with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine that is mated to a fun-sapping CVT. It may be fuel efficient, but it’s not quick. That being said, the Forester competes very well against other small SUVs and unlike the Honda’s CRV, it has all-wheel-drive. The Forester isn’t much bigger on the outside, but it’s a lot bigger on the inside than the Crosstrek.

Outback: the hot rod

EPA Classification: Small SUV

Length: 191.3 inches

Seats five


The Outback combines the more powerful engine from the Ascent with a smaller package. The optional 260-horsepower four-cylinder scoots the Outback to 60 miles per hour in less than 6 seconds. It’s also more of an SUV than a Crosstrek or Forester, if only because of its sharp edges and lifted stance. The Outback is the style of Subaru that made the company’s cars popular in the 1980s. In its premium Touring XL trim the Outback can get expensive, topping $42,000. With the Wilderness trim, the Outback gets a lift and more off-road prowess. In this Subaru SUV guide, it’s the right-sized Subie.

Ascent: the largest Subaru ever

Front angle view of black 2022 Subaru Ascent, a car that is a big waste of money
2022 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

EPA Classification: Standard SUV

Length: 196.8 inches.

Seats eight


The Ascent is the biggest Subaru SUV. Ever. Again, it has a CVT. But, if you can get over the droning of the company’s gearless transmission you’ll be rewarded with a flexible interior (in certain trims). The Ascent can be ordered as an eight-passenger SUV, or a seven-passenger that has a pair of captain’s chairs in the middle row. The third-row seats aren’t as large as some of its competitors. The Ascent comes with Subie’s 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, gets a five-star crash rating from the NHTSA, and has several driver safety aids standard.