Subaru Outback VS. Subaru Forester

Subaru Outback VS Subaru Forester: Which Is The Best Fit For You?


Subaru Outback VS Subaru Forester: Which Is The Best Fit For You?

Subaru Outback VS Subaru Forester: Finding Your Fit

Stuck between the Subaru Outback and Subaru Forester? Luckily, we're comparing the two to help you find the best fit for you in this post.

You've seen them on the road, and maybe even off the road. The Subaru Outback and Forester seem to be everywhere you look. And for good reason.

Not many other vehicles are as practical and versatile as a Subaru. But you've known this for quite awhile now. Your time has come, though. You're finally ready to get one of your own. But where do you begin?

You're unsure if you want to get into a station wagon, and you might need more room than what a crossover can offer. If you're feeling stuck, that's okay. We're here to help. 

In this post, we'll examine the differences between the Subaru Outback and the Forester to help you come to a well-informed decision.

Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Forester

The Subaru Outback and the Subaru Forester are some of the most versatile and dependable vehicles around.

Both vehicles boast Subaru's very own Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, the Boxer Engine, and enough cargo space for any adventure. But how do you decide which one is the best fit for your needs? We're here to help.

While both are highly versatile, one might be better suited than the other. Use the guide below to help make your own informed decision! But first, let's go through a brief overview of each model.

Subaru Outback

If there ever was a car to bring the popularity of the station wagon back, it's the Subaru Outback. Interestingly, though, the car is actually based on the Subaru Legacy sedan.

The name itself refers to the desolate desert regions of Austrailia, alluding to the vehicle's ability to navigate off-road terrains. The model has been a hallmark of the brand since the Subaru Outback debuted in 1996.

Since then the model has undergone a few changes, but those changes were made mostly to the vehicle's ground clearance and exterior styling. Despite the changes, though, the Subaru Outback has remained popular. In fact, Kelley Blue Book has named it one of the 12 Best Family Cars multiple times.

Subaru Forester

If you can't bring yourself to go full station wagon, the Subaru Forester is an excellent compromise. However, the vehicle isn't quite a Sports Utility Vehicle, either. It's actually referred to as a "compact crossover station wagon."

The Forester has been in production since 1997. During that time, this crossover vehicle was named Motor Trend's SUV of the Year in 2009 and 2014.

The vehicle is now in its fourth generation. The current rendition of the vehicle boasts increased fuel economy, an improved sports suspension, the option for a turbocharger, and a few other minor tweaks and overall improvements. Additionally, the Forester was named as a Top Safety Pick+ by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Now that we have the general overviews out of the way, let's get into the details.


The price of a new car is, unfortunately, often one of the most important deciding factors when it comes to a purchasing decision.

In this category, the Subaru Outback is bested by the Forester. But not by much.

According to the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price for the Subaru Outback, the most basic model can be had for about $25,645. Alternatively, the Subaru Forester has a suggested retail price beginning at about $22,795.

Depending on which model of Outback you want, the MSRP could be as high as $38,195. That is, however, the list price for the top-of-the-line, 3.6R Touring model. For comparison, the top of the line Forester model, the 2.0XT Touring Forester, will run you about $36,090.


Don't let your preconceptions about station wagons get in the way of your decision. While the Subaru Outback is indeed considered a station wagon, it's more than meets the eye. Quite literally, in fact.

The interior of the Outback is quite spacious and larger than the interior of the Forester. The interior of the Outback measures about 108 cubic feet compared to the roughly 103 cubic feet found in the Forester.

The Outback is also longer than the Forester. However, the Forester is taller. When trying to decide between the two, take a careful look at your needs. Will you be transporting numerous people? Or will you be traveling with lots of hiking and other adventure gear? 

If you answered yes, you might want to go with the Outback because it has more seating and storage space. On the other hand, if you don't plan on transporting many people, or if you need a couple more inches of headroom (for your large-breed dog, perhaps), the Forester is your best bets as it's taller than the Outback. 

Ride Quality

If ride quality is a concern, look no further than the Subaru Outback. The main difference between the two vehicles is that the wheelbase of the Outback is about four inches longer than what's found on the Forester. This translates into a smoother ride because there is a greater distance between the axles. As such, any bumps in the road are less noticeable. 

Although the ride in the Outback might be slightly better, the Forester still features an impressive suspension setup that is in no way considered harsh. First and foremost, and unlike the Outback, the Forester has an SUV style suspension which places the wheels and axles closer together.

In fact, the ride quality is considered much better than its competitor vehicles. Additionally, the latest generation of the Forester features improved interior insulation and higher quality materials. This makes for a more pleasant and ultimately quieter ride overall.

However, the Outback also features improved interior materials. Once again, if ride quality is the main concern for you, look no further than the Outback. It's larger footprint combined with improved suspension and interior materials make the Outback the clear winner in this category.

Ground Clearance

Any Subaru owner will tell you the joys of being able to take their vehicle off the beaten path. The company even encourages adventure! So when trying to whether the Subaru Outback or the Forester is right for you, it's important to ask yourself where you'll be going and exactly how you want to get there.

The Outback has long been considered to offer one of the best ground clearance in its class of vehicles. So don't let the term "station wagon" fool you, the Outback is an incredibly versatile and capable vehicle.

In this category, there isn't much to compare between the two vehicles. Both the Outback and the Forester feature 8.7 inches of ground clearance, more than some SUVs. The ground clearance makes it possible for both vehicles to traverse rocky terrain with ease. However, take care when approaching steep inclines and other obstacles. Both vehicles have a longer front end that can be easily damaged by the terrain if one doesn't take the necessary precautions.

However, take care when approaching steep inclines and other obstacles. Both vehicles have a longer front end that can be easily damaged by the terrain if one doesn't take the necessary precautions.

The ground clearance of both vehicles makes them attractive vehicles for any outdoor enthusiast. One might not be better than the other in this section, so consider what your other priorities are before jumping to a conclusion. 


The main points of this area might boil down to personal preference. Both the Subaru Outback and the Forester are sleek and sporty in their own right, but there are some differences.

The Outback, for example, is both longer and wider than the Forester, giving it more of a low profile look. With its low and sleek design, the Outback brings functionality to the table. For example, the roof racks are easier to access than on the Forester because it's shorter. 

But, that's also a concern for some potential buyers. The low and sleek design reminds them too much of the faux wood panel station wagons of yesterday. The Forester, on the other hand, does indeed look more like an SUV than the Outback, which is more attractive to some buyers. The Forester features a sporty style that is more typical of an SUV vehicle, unlike the family friendly appearance of the Outback.

While there are slight differences in style, one is no less functional than the other. Both vehicles feature ample cargo space for your family and pets, as well as equipment for your outdoor adventures.


What comes to mind when you think of a Subaru? Is it the sleek station wagon styling of the Outback? Or is it the star constellation featured on the logo? 

Chances are good the first thing that comes to mind is the all-wheel drive transmission. As one of the main selling points of these cars, the versatility of the vehicles' all wheel drive capabilities can't be emphasized enough. 

Both the Outback and the Forester feature the Subaru Lineartronic CVT transmission. CVT stands for continuously variable transmission (CVT). Interestingly, this transmission has no moving gears like a more conventional transmission. 

Rather, the transmission utilizes a steel belt which travels along a cone-shaped component. The larger part of the cone is used for speed while the more narrow part is used for power and torque.

The Forester has included the Lineartronic CVT transmission since 2014, and the Outback has featured it since 2010. The transmission includes a host of special modes, as well. These modes include Adaptive Control, Hill Holder, six-speed manual shifting mode (which utilizes paddle shifters), and even an incline start assist mode. These features vary depending on the trim model, however, so take care when choosing the right model for your garage.


This area might be the most fun and rewarding consideration to make when deciding between an Outback and a Forester. But don't worry, there is no wrong decision when it comes to selecting a Subaru engine.

Both vehicles come with the trademarked Subaru Boxer engine. These engines are unique to the automotive world in that they are horizontally opposed. This means that the cylinders are situated to fire horizontally instead of the typical vertical layout found on vehicles from other manufacturers. This horizontal layout creates a lower center of gravity which makes for a more stable and more responsive ride. 

The base models of both the Outback and the Forester feature a fuel efficient four cylinder engine with 175 horsepower. The higher end models, though, pack more of a punch. The 2.0XT Forester, for example, features a 250 horsepower turbocharged engine. Alternatively, the 3.6R Outback has a six cylinder engine with 256 horsepower.


The safety rating of a new car can make the world of difference when the unexpected occurs. Thankfully, both the Subaru Outback and the Forester boast excellent crash test scores.

As previously mentioned, the 2017 Forester was granted the Top Safety Pick+ rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Additionally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave it an overall rating of five stars. But, when it came time for the frontal crash and rollover testing, the NHTSA gave the Forester only four of the five total stars.

The 2017 Subaru Outback, on the other hand, came out ahead of its younger sibling. The NHTSA granted the Outback an overall rating of five stars, just like the Forester. Both vehicles were given five-star side crash ratings. Also, both scored four stars for their rollover crash rating. But when it comes time for the front impact testing, the Outback received five stars compared to the Forester's four-star rating.

While both vehicles were granted excellent safety ratings, the numbers don't lie. If safety is your number one priority, the Subaru Outback is the sure thing.

Which Is Right For You?

Choosing between two vehicles is never an easy decision. Especially when it's between a Subaru Outback and a Forester. Both have their own features that make them especially comfortable, as well as versatile.

The two vehicles stand apart from the market. They are both highly capable, and highly reliable vehicles which don't depreciate as quickly as similar vehicles. 

You can't make a final decision until you've taken both out on the road, though. To get the real Subaru experience, visit us at Subaru of Twin Falls and take one of our Outbacks or Foresters for a test today!

Categories: New Inventory
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