Comparison of 2022 Forester and 2022 Outback

What is the difference between Outback and Forester?

Executive Summary

"Should I buy a Forester or an Outback" is the most common question we hear at Planet.  

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 $2,000 more.  Many shorter drivers like the Forester's high perch; other drivers prefer the Outback's smoother ride and European handling. Both have the same base engine with the same fuel economy. Only Outback offers an optional go-go motor.   

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 corners of the vehicle cover a larger area and therefore bumps are less noticeable.

Forester was all-new for the 2019 model year, and "refreshed" for 2022. Outback was all new for 2020. Both are produced on Subaru's newest "Global Platform" that gives both cars remarkable handling and crash absorption abilities.
All 2022 Foresters and Outbacks come standard with Subaru's award-winning Eyesight suite of driver assistance technologies, including DriverFocus, and anti-distraction and convenience system. All Foresters and Outbacks have standard steering-responsive "swiveling" headlights that point in the direction you're going. Super cool.

Both offer a "multi-mode" version of X-Mode, that can be driver-selected to different terrains. Forester and Outback 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 with a 3 year/36,000 mile comprehensive warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.

Planet-exclusive video comparing Forester with Outback



Ground clearance is the same, at 8.7 inches, so both elude obstacles that snag mortal vehicles.
Outback is almost two inches wider.
Outback is almost 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'. Notice they have a similar amount of cubic volume, but the space is configured differently.

32.5 cubic ft: seats up

35.4 cubic ft: seats up

Two adult bicycles fit easily inside the Outback, flat with the wheels on. They would fit in a Forester, too, but would require tilting the front wheels or removing them. Forester's extra height pays off here.

75.7 cubic ft: seats down

76.1 cubic ft: seats down

Power Tailgate Option: Optional on both Outback and Forester. Watch our instructional video here.
Total People Space: Both offer about the same amount of people space.

109 cubic ft

107.8 cubic ft

Rear Legroom: given the Forester's shorter overall length, it's surprising to see a little more legroom in the Forester. Both benefit from ingenious scooping of front seats so there's more room for knees.

39.5 inches

39.4 inches

Price: comparably equipped, Outback is about $2,000 more, which buys you a bigger and even more substantial-feeling vehicle.

Outback models and prices

Forester models and prices

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

(3,500 pounds with optional turbo engine)

1500 pounds with two preset gear ranges
Airbags: Both have the six listed below
  • Two front airbags (deploy from steering wheel and dashboard);
  • Two torso airbags (deploy from the edge of the front seats);
  • Two curtain airbags (deploy downward from the roof protecting all four outboard occupants)
PLUS: To prevent "submarining," (sliding forward out of a safe position from under the seat belt) Forester offers a driver knee airbag. Outback gives both front seaters a cushion airbag in the flat part of the seats to hold you in place.

Eight total airbags

Outback uses two cushion airbags for driver and front passenger to prevent "submarining." (#4 above)

Seven total airbags

Forester uses knee airbag for driver to prevent "submarining." (#4 above)

Crash Tests: Both earn the highest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest "Top Safety Pick PLUS" ratings.

Outback Test Results

Forester Test Results

Subaru Eyesight System: Subaru Eyesight System includes pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise, and much more. Both have Subaru's latest, third-generation system, which includes Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Detection, and steering responsive headlights. Only Forester offers DriverFocus.
Optional Moonroof: only Forester offers an enormous panoramic moonroof big enough to eject unwelcome passengers.

 Regular Size

super Size

Engines and Fuel Economy: You get the same standard 2.5 liter mill in both cars. Both run regular unleaded. Both are available only with automatic transmission.

Continuously variable automatic transmission:

26 city, 33 highway

182 horsepower

Continuously variable automatic transmission:

26 city, 33 highway

182 horsepower

Fuel Tank and Max Range: Outback's huge tank gives it mammoth range.18.5 gallons, 610 miles15.9 gallons, 547 miles
Go-go motor option: most folks find the standard engine sufficiently potent, but we can oblige your power hunger.

Optional 260 horsepower 2.4 liter four cylinder turbo with high-torque Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission

23 city, 30 highway

Subaru no longer offers an optional 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder with high-torque Lineartronic Continuously Variable Transmission so if you need extra power you might want to look at a low-mileage used Forester XT model.

23 city, 28 highway.

Rooftop Cargo Solutions: Except on Touring model, 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.

Planet-exclusive high resolution photo galleries, videos, and much more...

Planet Outback Center

Planet Forester Center

Digital Brochures

For more information on other Subaru models, click here for a Planet-exclusive Comparisons Page.

Exclusive Planet Benefit:  Planet Passport Program

Just for fun, we included these pictures, taken from the same spot, of Greg White and his son picking up their new Forester in 2003,
and then picking up a used Outback for Nathaniel in 2020. We're reminded of that haunting quote from J.M. Barrie:
"Young boys should never be sent to bed. They always wake up a day older, and then before you know it, they're grown."

Search our huge inventory!
  • 0 Vehicles



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.

* Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this site, absolute accuracy cannot be guaranteed. This site, and all information and materials appearing on it, are presented to the user "as is" without warranty of any kind, either express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement. All vehicles are subject to prior sale. Price does not include applicable tax, title, and license. Not responsible for typographical errors.