Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A tan 2017 used Subaru Forester is driving through the city in the rain.

Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Forester: Which Is Right for Me?

Subaru has made a name for itself as one of the most dependable brands on the market today. With a reputation of longevity and outstanding safety, the Subaru name is held in high regard, and its vehicles are a solid choice, new or used. If you’re shopping for a Subaru to add to your family’s fleet of cars, you may be considering two of its most popular options – the Outback and the Forester. Both of these compact SUVs offer loads of unique features, and depending on what your unique needs are, both can work perfectly with your lifestyle. As you stroll through the lot of your local car dealership, you may have your eye on a new or used Subaru Forester, wondering if it’s better suited for you than its big brother, the Outback. So, when it comes to comparing the Outback vs Forester, which is the right choice for you?

The Forester and the Outback

If you’re looking for a durable, versatile compact SUV, the Forester is a top choice. Perhaps what makes this SUV so popular is its roomy interior and loads of cargo space, making it an ideal family car that’s not too big, yet not too small. With a taller profile than the Outback, the Forester offers a touch more cargo space as well as all of Subaru’s safety and technology features. Extremely fuel-efficient, getting an average of 26 MPG city and 33 MPG highway, the Forester beats out most of the competition.

The Forester is often compared to Subaru’s other compact SUV option, the Outback. This costs a bit more and is about the same size, but it offers more luxury features as well as the option of a more powerful turbocharged engine. More technology and connectivity features are also available in the Outback, in addition to standard Subaru items, making the Outback the perfect choice if you’re looking for just a bit more. However, the Outback also offers a lower, more car-like profile, which could be good or bad depending on your needs.

A brown 2016 Subaru Outback is parked in front of a log cabin.

Why Buy a Forester?

Although the Outback is the pricier of the two SUVs, it’s the Forester that comes out on top with its impressive 76.1 cu.ft. of cargo space in the latest generation (which hit the market for 2019). Its roomy interior is due in part to its higher stance and 60/40 split-folding rear seats, which allow for optimal use of the Forester’s interior space. With seating for five, this compact SUV ensures that all are comfortable on their journey, and with Subaru’s trademark standard all-wheel drive, the Forester can hold its own on the trails, right along next to its big brother.

Upgraded trims heighten the allure of the Forester, offering up enhancements like leather-trimmed seating and an 8.0-inch touchscreen. Various perks, like 4G LTE WiFi, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and more make for a thoroughly modern vehicle if you are looking at a new or later-generation used vehicle. However, every Forester is an extremely safe vehicle, and this model has been named a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS every year since 2007. The latest models include Subaru EyeSight features standard to keep you safe and secure on the road. Advanced adaptive cruise control, lane centering, and more are available to help you keep your focus on the road.

Why Buy an Outback?

If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, the Outback can be your perfect companion either for a trip to the grocery store or sailing down the trails. Slightly larger than the Forester, the Outback offers a few more perks, like a longer body, bulkier frame, and two engine options to help you get the most power out of this midsize SUV. With the optional turbocharged engine in the latest model (2019 and on), you get 260 hp and can tow an impressive 3,500 lbs. The Outback also offers more luxurious interior options, like a larger touchscreen (depending on the model year), heated front seats, soft-touch materials, and an easy-to-use infotainment system. If you want to enjoy the best features that Subaru has to offer or if you need more power, then the Outback is the model for you.

A silver 2017 used Subaru Forester is driving through the snow in the mountains.

Why Choose a Subaru?

When you think of Subaru, what comes to your mind? For many, it’s loyalty. It’s true, Subaru owners are extremely loyal, and once you buy your first Subaru, you may find that you’ll never choose another brand again. Not only are Subaru vehicles made for safety, dependability, and functionality, the options that you can choose from feature some of the most versatile and stylish cars in the industry today. Yes, Subaru has created a name for itself as being a top producer of safe and reliable cars and SUVs designed for everyday life.

With standard all-wheel drive in every model, there is simply no manufacturer with a lineup better suited for handling bad weather conditions and back roads. However, Subaru’s unique features do not end there. Every model also makes use of a flat Boxer engine, which further improves safety by lowering the center of gravity and reducing the risk of injury in a frontal crash. And with the inclusion of standard EyeSight driver assistance technology in the latest models, there is simply no brand that puts greater attention on keeping you and your passengers safe.

As you find yourself staring at the number of options at your local Subaru dealership or used car lot, remember the perks of owning a Subaru. After all, you want a vehicle that you can depend on for years to come, one that has your back on the road and off, so why settle for anything less than the best? Explore the world of Subaru today and find the right car to make your life easier and fun. Life is meant to be enjoyed, and you’ll find that by traveling to new places in your Subaru, a world of opportunity will be opened up for you.

Which Subaru Should You Choose?

The key to choosing the right Subaru for you is going to be based on your individual needs. If you find yourself wanting an SUV that’s ready for anything, both the Forester and the Outback check that box, and if you want a safe and dependable ride, you can find it in both options. Both SUVs get impeccable gas mileage, offer impressive ground clearance, and are built tough so that you can get where you need to go safely and efficiently. Where the two differ is going to be cargo space, interior upgrades, and engine power.

The Forester offers up more cargo space, making it a real competitor for the Outback. However, the Outback is built to take on the outdoors with a wider, longer frame and a more powerful engine. If you’re looking for a meatier exterior, the Outback may be the perfect choice, but if you’re looking to get more bang for your buck, the Forester truly impresses with the space that it offers inside. In the end, your decision will come down to what’s more important: more space and a lower price or more power and luxury. Both options are excellent vehicles, which can make the decision a tough one.