Outback vs. Forester: How Do They Compare

Are you looking for a new set of wheels? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Your Subaru Portland dealership has an excellent selection of new and used vehicles. But with so many great options, how do you choose? We’re here to help you with that too.

A couple of our most popular cars are the Subaru Forester and the Subaru Outback. In fact, both of them made it on Consumer Reports’ top ten list of most popular cars.

It’s great to have peace of mind knowing that you’re purchasing a quality vehicle. Even so, we’re sure you want to make the right choice to suit your particular needs. Here, we’ll compare these two top-notch cars and help you determine which driver’s seat is the right fit.


For many people, value is an important factor to consider when shopping for a new car. While both the Outback and Forester are priced competitively, the Forester slightly edges out the Outback in this category. Our 2018 Forester models start out at just under $23,000, while our 2018 Outback models are just under $26,000. Even so, you really can’t go wrong with either. When it comes to price, for instance, our Outback models have the competitive edge when compared to luxury wagon rivals.

Vehicle Interior 

Both vehicles provide superior seating comfort and quality. Both also seat five people and have high-end options that include leather upholstery, heated front seats, and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. While both vehicles will provide you and your passengers a smooth ride, we have to give the Outback a slight edge when it comes to the interior features category.

If you’re looking for high-tech features, you’ll find that both the Forester and Outback come equipped with Bluetooth, a USB port, a rear view camera, and a touch screen. But the Outback doesn’t stop there.

In addition to these features, the Outback comes packed with the latest technology. The STARLINK Multimedia system, which comes standard on the 2018 Outback, includes Apple CarPlay,  Android Auto, and TomTom navigation. With STARLINK, you’ll be able to retrieve messages, get directions, or access your favorite playlist on voice command.

Fuel Economy 

Like price, finding out how many miles you can get per gallon of gas is an important factor when selecting a new vehicle. After all, you don’t want to burn through fuel so quickly that you find yourself at the gas pump all the time. When it comes to fuel efficiency, both cars perform well. But we’ll give the Forester the edge here.

When looking at the base models of each vehicle, the fuel efficiency is nearly identical. However, when you compare the turbocharged four-cylinder Forester with the six-cylinder Outback, you’ll begin to see the difference.

The Forester will get 23 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. By comparison, the Outback will get the same mpg on the highway, but only 20 mpg in the city. Therefore, when comparing the high-performance engine options of each vehicle, the Forester wins out. Selecting the Forester will save you money upfront as well as at the gas pump.


When it comes to safety, both the Subaru Forester and Outback are first-rate. In fact, both the Forester and Outback received accolades from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Forester earned a Top Safety Pick award, while the Outback earned a Top Safety Pick+ Award. Just 15 vehicles were selected for this top honor and the Outback was among them. This award represents vehicles that offer a superior level of safety.

In addition to these top honors, both the Forester and the Outback have earned the highest possible overall rating (five out of five stars) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Looking at the breakdown, you can see that both vehicles earned five stars in side crash testing and four stars in rollover testing. However, the Outback slightly bests the Forester with a perfect five out of five rating in frontal crash testing compared to the Forester’s four out of five stars.

So what earns these vehicles a perfect five out of five star overall rating? To start, both vehicles come equipped with a rearview camera. Additional options are available through the Subaru Eyesight suite. Its many features include adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and pre-collision throttle management. Additionally, the Outback offers LED steering responsive headlights and high beam assist. It’s one of the safest vehicles you’ll find on the roadways today.

Other Areas 

In many other respects, the Forester and Outback are nearly identical. Both come with all-wheel drive and professional test drivers have found both to provide a comfortable ride with responsive handling. Both provide excellent cargo space and come with premium audio as well.

The Forester and Outback are also incredibly reliable vehicles. An overwhelming majority (98%) of Subaru vehicles sold in the last ten years are still on the road today. That means you can be assured that you’re getting your money’s worth when you ride with us. In fact, the Outback is the longest-lasting vehicle in its class, setting itself apart from its competitors.

As you can see, the Forester and Outback go head to head with each other in many categories. But each has a clear advantage in others. Ultimately, the best choice for you will depend on your priorities and needs. The good news is that you really can’t go wrong with either of these vehicles.

But if you need a little more guidance, we can help steer you toward the right choice. Stop by your local Subaru Portland dealership, tour the showroom, and take one for a test drive. We’ll make sure you ride off into the sunset with just the right ride!

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