• Subaru

Planet Subaru

596 Washington Street
Hanover, MA 02339

  • Sales: (888) 691-9568
  • Service: (888) 690-5839
  • Parts: (888) 607-1391

your undealership

Comparison of Forester and Outback

Planet Subaru compares the all new Forester versus Outback. 
Shopping used?  See a prior generation Forester/Outback comparison.


Five minute video


Executive Summary

"What is the difference between the Forester and the Outback" is the most common question we hear at Planet.  Outback is Subaru's number one seller, and Forester number two. 

Outback is a longer, more substantial vehicle--a "midsize crossover" where Forester is a "compact crossover."  Outback looks and feels more like a wagon, Forester looks and feels more like a small sport utility vehicle.  Comparably equipped, Outback is about $1,500 more.  Many shorter drivers like the Forester's high perch; other drivers prefer the Outback's smoother ride and European handling. 

Both won 2014 "Top Safety Pick Plus" awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.  Both also won Motor Trend's "Sport Utility of the Year" award in crowded fields. They offer the utility and all-weather prowess of a sport utility vehicle with the lower cost, higher fuel economy, better ride, and superior outward visibility of a car.  They boast many safety features, including full-time symmetrical all wheel drive (with no buttons to push).  They both come 3 year/36,000 mile comprehensive warranty and 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Outback left..........Forester right

Ride Quality
Outback has the longer wheelbase (the distance between the axles is four inches longer than the Forester).  Lengthening the distance between the axles provides an even smoother ride because the vehicle platform covers more square area and therefore bumps are less noticeable.  However, even with a wheelbase shorter than an Outback, Forester is much smoother than its competitors.

You're looking at the front axles, with the rear
axles lined up, out of sight.  Outback, on left;

axles are farther apart.

Ground clearance

is the same, at almost nine inches, so both vehicles elude obstacles that snag mortal vehicles.


utback is one inch wider.

utback is eight inches longer.


Forester is two inches taller.






Outward Visibility
Both have a "command driving position" allowing you to see over traffic in front of you.   Forester and Outback were ranked #1 and #3 for best outward visibility among all vehicles
See the graphic.


Dawg (and cargo) Space

See how Blue
can stand up better in Forester because it's a little taller.  He can lounge better in the Outback because it's longer.  So you could say he prefers the waggin'.  


34.3 cubic feet: seats up.

34.4 cubic feet: seats up

Two adult bicycles fit easily inside the Outback, flat with the wheels on (though one in this picture is a kid's dirt bike). They would fit in a Forester, too, but would require tilting the front wheels or removing them.

71.3 cubic feet:
seats down

74.7 cubic feet:
seats down

Power Tailgate Option

Not available on Outback, but standard on Forester Limited and Touring.  Watch our instructional video here.



Total People Space

Outback is slightly larger inside.

105.4 cubic feet

103.3 cubic feet

Rear Legroom

About the same; both benefit from ingenious scooping of front seats so there's more room for knees.

37.8 inches

38.0 inches


Comparably equipped, Outback is about $1,500 more, which buys you a bigger and even more substantial-feeling vehicle.


Image Perception

Outback looks more like a
station wagon; Forester more like a sport utility vehicle.  We have determined that there are Outback people and there are Forester people.  Which one are you?



Towing Capacity
Forester can tow a small utility trailer but for a sailboat you'll need the Outback.

2700 pounds with
six preset gear ranges

1500 pounds with
two preset gear ranges

Both have the six listed below; Forester gets a bonus
airbag that deploys below the steering wheel to protect the driver's knees. 
  • Two front airbags (deploy from the steering wheel or dashboard);
  • Two torso airbags (deploy from the edge of the seats);
  • Two curtain airbags (deploy downward from the roof protecting all four outboard occupants)

Both cars have the
 six here (the
passenger side curtain
airbag is not pictured)

At some point, we expect
Subaru to invent the

Packing Peanuts Personal Protection Package, which
will fill the entire interior
packing peanuts in
an accident. Note extra
knee airbag deploying
from lower dash.

Optional Moonroof

Only Forester offers an enormous panoramic moonroof big enough to eject unwelcome passengers.


Regular Size


super Size

Engines and Fuel Economy
Standard mills in both cars produce about 170 horsepower and displace 2.5 liters.  Both run regular unleaded. 

Continuously variable
automatic transmission:

24 city, 30 highway

Six-speed manual:
21 city, 28 highway

0-60mph:  8.8 seconds

Continuously variable
automatic transmission:

 24 city, 32 highway

Six-speed manual:
22 city, 29 highway

0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds

Fuel Tank and Max Range

18.5 gallons, 555 miles
15.9 gallons, 508 miles

Go-go motor option

Most folks find the standard engine sufficiently potent, but we can oblige your power hunger. 

Optional 3.6 liter
six cylinder with
five speed
 automatic transmission:
18 city, 25 highway

0-60mph:  7.1 seconds

Optional 2.0 liter turbocharged
four cylinder with

Continuously variable
automatic transmission:
23 city, 28 highway.

0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
Typical Competitors
Of course we don't think a Subaru has any competition.  But the nice folks who buy cars here say that they drove these vehicles before they bought a Planet Subaru.  Click on any of the blue links for a dedicated comparison.

Rooftop Cargo Solutions

Outback offers standard roof rails (the bars that run front to back) and integrated crossbars (the bars that run side to side).  Rails are standard on all Foresters except base model; crossbars optional on all Forester models. 

Integrated crossbars are
posed partially open to
show how they work.

Optional crossbars (not shown)
are easily bolted on to the rails
shown here

Exclusive Planet Videos

Dave's Three
Favorite Things about the

Pre-loved Outbacks

Pre-loved Foresters



If you're in the communities of Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Plymouth, or Somerville, Planet is your best bet to buy or lease your Subaru Forester or Subaru Outback.
Subaru Stellar Performer Subaaru Eco-Friendly