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Subaru has long been a fairly singularly focused carmaker. The idea always centers around getting families outside. The spacious design of many of the brand’s vehicles and the phenomenal AWD system make a clear throughline. While many love this about Subaru, the throughline ran pretty parallel for the Subaru Crosstrek and the Subaru Outback. So much so that it can be hard to tell them apart for many customers. So, what’s the difference between the Subaru Crosstrek and the Subaru Outback? 

Is the Subaru Outback bigger than the Subaru Crosstrek?

Desert Khaki 2023 Subaru Crosstrek driving on a dirt road
2023 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru

Although these two look very similar, the Outback is a slightly beefier version of the Crosstrek. That might be a bit overly simplified. Let’s take a look.  

The best way to think about them is that the Subaru Crosstrek is basically an off-road station wagon. The Subaru Outback looks like a station wagon, but the increased size pushes it over the edge into something that feels more SUV-like than an adventure wagon. This difference can be hard to see unless you have both models side by side. Even still, it’s tricky.

A pale green 2022 Subaru Outback driving on the beach.
2022 Subaru Outback | Subaru

The differences are small until they all come together. The Outback is only 2-inches wider and 14-inches longer than the Crosstrek. Both SUVs stand with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. However, the Outback’s roofline sits 2 inches taller than the Crosstrek. When the rubber hits the road, the Outback can hold over 20 cubic feet of storage, more than the Crosstrek. While these numbers are only different by a few inches, the overall difference in useable space is pretty significant. 

Which Subaru has the best gas mileage? 

A white Subaru Crosstrek subcompact SUV is parked outdoors.
The 2023 Subaru Crosstrek | Subaru

Thanks to the hybrid powertrain and smaller size, the Crosstrek Hybrid is the most fuel-efficient Subaru of them all. Aside from the hybrid Crosstrek, the normal Crosstrek still beats the bigger Outback by one mpg. 

Considering the difference in storage space between the two, the negligible difference in fuel economy isn’t all that important unless you go with the hybrid. 

Do the Outback and Crosstrek have the same engine? 

The 2022 Subaru Outback comes with only one engine option, the 2.4-liter six-cylinder boxer making 260 hp. Meanwhile, the 2022 Subaru Crosstrek comes standard with the 152-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder boxer. But unlike the Subaru Outback, the Crosstrek has two other engine choices, the 2.0-liter hybrid and the 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer making 182 hp. Lastly, with the standard 2.0-liter gas engine, Subaru gives us a six-speed manual option. 

Which Subaru is best for you? 

While the Subaru Outback and Subaru Crosstrek look similar from the outside, the reality is these two wagon crossovers serve pretty different functions while both being keenly committed to getting families out to the more wild places in the world.