When you compare a 4-door sedan versus a 4-door wagon, there are going to be some obvious differences. Even though the Outback looks car-like, the ride, the handling, and the mileage are going to make it more similar to an SUV. Both of these classes of vehicles are made for moving a good number of people around, being relatively cost-effective and easy to drive.
The Outback stays true to its name and offers goat-like sure-footedness with all-wheel drive and is a great all-around athletic vehicle with rewarding handling and capable performance, blended with surprising interior volume. The versatility and number of high-end options are a bonus. The Impala’s design is quite dated and unexciting, but the powertrain is smooth as ice and the simple layout and the truly excellent interior space help offset the design challenges making this a cushy highway ride.
The city fuel economy for both vehicles is less than exciting, with only 19 mpg city for the Outback and 18 mpg city for the Impala. While the highway mpg goes up to 30 for the big Impala cruiser and 27 for the Outback, neither are setting any records. The fuel tank capacity for the Outback is a generous 18.5 gallons, while the Impala lags with only a 17 gallon tank.
The Impala’s dowdy and anonymous interior is not helped by the fact that it’s lacking some must-have features like USB and navigation. The Outback has SUV-like styling that certainly won’t appeal to all tastes and also has somewhat basic equipment setups. However, the interior of both is spacious and comfy for the most part.
The Outback is unquestionably more SUV than wagon, while the Impala is all cruising sedan. The length of the Impala is surprisingly 20” longer than the Outback, making it a little tougher to turn, but the Outback is higher and offers more head clearance and is easier to get into and out of due to the height.
It’s when you get to the safety ratings that you start to see some real differences. You couldn’t consider either of these two vehicles top safety picks, between the two they are missing a significant number of stars: the Impala loses 3/5 stars for the side barrier driver rating while the Outback loses stars in nearly every category. Choosing between these two models may be difficult, but if you’re going for safety alone you might want to consider the Outback.