Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback

By

Automotive Content Editor

Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.

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, Automotive Content Editor - June 10, 2024
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness front view

Subaru has recently doubled down on its rugged-forward character. The Japanese automaker endows all of its vehicles with standard all-wheel drive (AWD), a comprehensive suite of safety features, a rugged design, and outdoor-oriented features that help its vehicles stand out.

If you're looking to purchase a Subaru, you may be confused by the automaker’s lineup since the majority of their SUVs are similar in style and capabilities. The smallest SUV in Subaru’s lineup is the subcompact Crosstrek SUV. There's also the midsized Subaru Outback, which is considered a wagon. Subaru is one of the few automakers left to carry a wagon-style vehicle.

On the outside though, these two vehicles look very similar. So, in this brief comparison, we’ll look at how the Crosstrek compares to the Outback regarding pricing, size, specs, engine options, and fuel economy. In the end, we’ll name a winner to help you choose between the two vehicles.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Price

2023 Subaru Outback

Subaru Crosstrek prices start at $26,540 for the Base trim. The most expensive Subaru Crosstrek is the Wilderness trim that is priced at $33,540. The cheapest Subaru Outback costs $30,290, while the most expensive Subaru Outback is priced at $44,190.

There’s a price difference of $3,750 when you compare the base Crosstrek to the entry-level Outback. Looking at the range-topping models of both vehicles reveals a price difference of $10,650. The Crosstrek is far more affordable than the Outback.

Lease deals for the Crosstrek tend to be more affordable than ones offered for the Outback simply based on starting MSRP. However, shoppers looking to purchase one of these vehicles will find the financing rates can fluctuate quite a bit. For example, when a new model year drops, the remaining inventory of last year's stock is typically discounted to make way for incoming models. Since these two vehicles don't typically arrive at the same time of year, you may find times when it's more affordable to finance an Outback over a Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Size

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Interior

As a compact SUV, the Subaru Crosstrek is far smaller than the Outback, which is considered a midsize vehicle. The Crosstrek is 176.4 inches in length, 70.9 inches in width, and 62.8 inches in height. The Outback is much larger, as it’s 15.5 inches longer, 3.3 inches wider, and 3.6 inches taller. Its dimensions measure 191.9 inches long, 74.2 inches wide, and 66.4 inches tall.

For shoppers looking to go off-roading, both the Crosstrek and Outback are available in rugged Wilderness trims which give you more ground clearance than a normal edition, both of which have a standard 8.7 inches. The Crosstrek Wilderness has 9.3 inches of ground clearance, while the Outback Wilderness has 9.5 inches of ground clearance.

The Outback has more front and rear headroom, rear legroom, front and rear shoulder room, and rear hip room, than the Crosstrek, too. The 2025 Outback has 40.1 inches of headroom in front, and 39.1 inches in the back, while legroom measures 42.8 and 39.5 respectively. The Outback’s size is readily apparent in the back where it has an extra inch of headroom and three extra inches of legroom compared to the Crosstrek's 38 and 36.5 inches.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Specs

2023 Subaru Outback Cargo

In terms of overall specifications, the Outback is the larger vehicle all around, since it's considered a midsize wagon. The 2025 Outback can hold much more cargo than a Crosstrek because of this. It has 32.6 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats and a total of 75.6 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded. The compact Crosstrek holds 19.9 cubic feet of cargo behind the rear seat and 54.7 cubic feet of total gear with it folded.

The latest version of the Outback can also tow more than the Crosstrek. The 2025 Outback is rated to tow between 2,700 and 3,500 pounds, depending on engine type and configuration. The 2024 Crosstrek can pull up to 1,500 lbs when properly equipped. The Wilderness trim allows you to tow a lot more, since it has a larger engine than the standard base trim, upping the towing capacity to 3,500 lbs. This is pretty impressive for a compact SUV.

Subaru Outback vs. Crosstrek Engine Options

2024 Subaru Crosstrek Engine

Subaru offers the Crosstrek and Outback with two engine options. The Crosstrek comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 152 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine is available. It’s rated at 182 hp and 178 lb-ft of torque.

The larger Outback comes with more powerful engines. The base engine in the Outback is the Crosstrek’s upgraded motor. In the Outback, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine makes 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. Subaru offers the Outback with a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Gas Mileage

When it comes to fuel economy, the Subaru Crosstrek can get up to 29 mpg combined (27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway) with the standard engine. The larger 2.5-liter engine can also get up to 29 mpg combined, but gets one mpg lower in the city and on the highway. The rugged Wilderness trim is the least efficient model in the Crosstrek lineup and can get up to 27 mpg combined.

The larger, more powerful Outback gets nearly the same fuel economy as the Crosstrek. The Outback’s 2.5-liter engine can get up to 28 mpg combined, which breaks down to 26 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. The turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder is rated at up to 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city and 29 mpg highway). The go-anywhere Outback Wilderness can get up to 23 mpg combined.

Crosstrek vs. Outback: Which Subaru Is Better?

The Outback continues to be an anomaly. It’s one of the few wagons on sale and it delivers true SUV capability and versatility in a package that’s far more enjoyable to drive. For shoppers who want a wagon with a generous amount of space, a roomy cargo area, a peppy turbocharged engine, and excellent off-roading capability, the Outback delivers. We’re happy to see the Subaru Outback continue to be in the automaker’s lineup, and if you have the extra money to spend, it's the clear winner in the competition.

However, we suspect that most shoppers will be happy with the cheaper, smaller, and more fuel-efficient Crosstrek. If you don't need the amount of cargo capacity that you get with the Outback and are looking for a rugged and willing compact SUV the Crosstrek is definitely one to look at.

Side-by-side comparison of features, pricing, photos and more!

, Automotive Content Editor

Meghan Carbary has been writing professionally for nearly 20 years. A published journalist in three states, Meghan honed her skills as a feature writer and sports editor. She has now expanded her skill-set into the automotive industry as a content writer for Auto Credit Express, where she contributes to several automotive and auto finance blogs.

Follow On: LinkedIn

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