When you need to get there in style and possibly by crossing a rocky creek or mountain path, the mid-size SUV/crossover is the vehicle of choice. These semi-large people-movers provide a lot of range and a lot of space, but without the super-high price tag of the larger SUVs. A good interim step between a large family sedan and a mid-size SUV or van, these vehicles are multi-purpose and can be a lot of fun to drive.
The Subaru Forester and the Subaru Outback are very similar models, with the main difference being the few extra options that the Outback offers and a little bit of a different look. The Outback is slightly more expensive in the base model, but again – it’s nothing to make most consumers pause before taking an extra look.
Many people could be drawn to the heated front seats that come standard on the Outback as well as the heated seatback, and the slightly more generous rear seat bench split of 65/35 instead of 60/40 in the Forester, but these changes are small. Both vehicles offer cloth seats and a standard CD player, but the entertainment system in the Outback wins hands-down with the option for a 2nd row LCD screen and the installed DVD player to keep the kids quiet on long road trips.
Stay Safe and Secure
The Outback and the Forester could be the same vehicle if you’re looking strictly at the safety and security features: both come with curtain 1st and 2nd row airbags standard, ABS and driveline traction control, height adjustable seatbelts, halogen headlights, standard daytime running lights and standard rear child safety door locks – everything that you would expect in a higher-end vehicle.
While many things are similar, when you compare the exterior options you will see where the Outback earns its extra dollars. The heated door mirrors, standard roof rack and rails make it a sportier option; the two vehicles both have 16” steel tires, mud flaps and fixed interval rear window wipers to keep the view clean.
Both the Subaru Forester and the Subaru Outback provide reasonable fuel economy with 21 and 19 mpg respectively for city and the same 27 mpg highway driving. There is little difference in their ¼ mile time or speed and while the Outback has a slightly higher curb weight, the difference is minimal.
Either of these two options will provide a solid entry into the mid-size SUV class – with high-quality interiors, good safety features and basic entertainment options even in the base model.