hamburger icon
Compare Articles

Subaru Forester vs. Outback

Most automakers have ditched wagons in favor of more popular SUVs, but Subaru is one of the few brands that sells both. Shoppers looking for a rugged vehicle from Subaru may find themselves cross-shopping the Forester to the Outback.

In this comparison, we’ll compare the compact Forester SUV to the Outback wagon to see how the two stack up to one another when it comes to price, performance, fuel economy, interior space, off-roading capability, safety, and reliability. We’ll name the winner that’s the better option for most shoppers.

Subaru Forester vs Outback Price

2025 Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester prices start at $31,090 for the base trim and the most expensive Subaru Forester is the Touring which costs $41,390. The cheapest Subaru Outback is the base trim which costs $30,290 and the most expensive Subaru Outback is Touring XT which carries a price tag of $44,190.

There’s a price difference of $800 between the Subaru Forester and Outback with the latter being the cheaper of the two. At the top of the range, the Outback costs $2,800 more than the Forester.

The Forester and Outback have similar lease and purchase deals.

Subaru Forester vs Outback Performance & Mileage

2024 Subaru Outback Engine

Subaru offers the Forester with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 180 hp. Subaru has confirmed that the Forester will be available with a hybrid powertrain for the 2026 model year, but information on that vehicle isn’t available yet.

The Subaru Outback is available with two different engines. The base powertrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that makes 182 hp. The wagon is available with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that’s rated at 260 hp.

When it comes to fuel economy, the Forester is rated at up to 29 mpg combined and the Outback is rated to get up to 28 mpg combined.

Subaru Forester vs Outback Interiors

2025 Subaru Forester Interior

The compact Subaru Forester is 183.3 inches long and provides passengers sitting in the back with 39.6 inches of headroom and 39.4 inches of legroom. In comparison, the Outback is 191.9 inches long and has 39.1 inches of rear headroom and 39.5 inches of rear legroom.

When it comes to cargo capacity, the Forester has 29.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 74.4 cubic feet of total cargo space. The Outback offers up to 32.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 75.6 cubic feet of cargo space.

The Forester and Outback share similar interior designs and come with similar tech features.

Subaru Forester vs Outback Off-Road Capability

2024 Subaru Outback Off Road

While Subaru offers the Forester in a rugged Wilderness trim, it’s based on the previous generation of the SUV. The current version of the Forester isn’t available in a rugged trim and we don’t know if Subaru will introduce a new Forester Wilderness.

The Outback Wilderness is the most capable trim in the Outback lineup. It features an upgraded all-wheel-drive system, all-terrain tires, special 17-inch wheels, heavy-duty skid plates, lifted suspension, upgraded front and rear bumpers, large fender flares, and 9.5 inches of ground clearance. The Outback may be a wagon, but its Wilderness trim delivers off-roading capability that beats some SUVs.

Subaru Forester vs Outback Safety and Reliability

2025 Subaru Forester Side View

Both the Subaru Forester and Outback were named Top Safety Picks by the Insurance Institute for Highway (IIHS) and earned similar crash-test scores in the organization’s tests.

Based on Consumer Reports’ data, the Forester is expected to be more reliable than the Outback. The 2025 Forester has not been tested yet, but has a predicted reliability score of 82 out of 100, which matches the 2024 model year. The Forester has a predicted satisfaction score of four out of five.

The Outback has a predicted reliability score of 50 out of 100 and a predicted owner satisfaction score of four out of five. The wagon’s reliability has gone down based on poor in-car electronics scores in the past few years.

Subaru Forester vs Outback: Which is Better?

We can scream and yell about how good the Subaru Outback is and how it wins in a comparison against the Forester, but most shoppers will purchase the Forester for the simple reason that it’s an SUV. Unfortunately, shoppers who do this are missing out on the better vehicle.

The Outback wins this comparison as it’s cheaper, offers better performance, has more cargo capacity, and offers far more off-roading capability. It may not be as reliable as the Forester, but it’s the better overall package.

    Item 1 of 0
      Item 1 of 0
      Author profile
      Joel Patel Automotive Editor

      Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

      Sign Up for Customized Deal Alerts

      Subscribe to receive emails of the latest deals. Select list to join:

      Related Articles

      related article preview image
      Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Subaru has recently doubled down on its rugged-forward character. The Japanese automaker endows all of its vehicles with standard all-wheel drive (...
      photo of author Meghan Carbary Meghan Carbary Automotive Content Editor Jun 10, 2024
      related article preview image
      Mazda CX-50 vs. Subaru Outback Subaru continues to be known for making vehicles that are ready to get dirty and for being one of the few automakers to stick with wagons. Consumer...
      photo of author Joel Patel Joel Patel Automotive Editor Apr 14, 2022
      related article preview image
      Subaru Forester vs. Honda CR-V The compact SUV has quickly become the do-it-all vehicle for the majority of shoppers. Comfortable, efficient, spacious, and safe, compact SUVs lik...
      photo of author Joel Patel Joel Patel Automotive Editor Jul 02, 2023
      related article preview image
      Subaru Outback vs. Honda CR-V The Subaru Outback and Honda CR-V are stalwarts of the crossover segment. The Outback’s rugged wagon roots are easily identifiable while the CR-V’s...
      photo of author Matthew Pilgrim Matthew Pilgrim Automotive Editor May 16, 2023
      related article preview image
      Subaru Solterra vs. Subaru Outback Subaru is renowned for its rugged vehicles that help owners tackle terrain beyond smooth tarmac. With the release of the all-electric 2023 Subaru S...
      photo of author Joel Patel Joel Patel Automotive Editor Jun 13, 2022
      See More Compare Articles >

      Sign Up for Customized Deal Alerts

      Subscribe to receive emails of the latest deals. Select list to join: