Note: we made this comparison before Subaru introduced its own three-row large SUV, the Subaru Ascent, that competes directly with Pilot and Highlander. See that comparison.

We no longer update this page, but it's still good for comparing these vehicles from 2015 through 2019 model years.


Subaru Outback AWD

Toyota Highlander AWD


Honda Pilot AWD



All are considered "midsized crossovers," which mean they began life on unibody car frames rather than heavy duty pickup truck platforms.  Highlander and Pilot seat up to eight by offering functional third row seating big enough for adults. If you can live without the third row, you'll prefer the nimbler handling of the Outback over the more wallowy Toyota and Honda. (You pay a steep handling penalty for the extra girth in the Highlander and Pilot).  

Highlander and Pilot are significantly more expensive.  You get a larger vehicle, but you don't get much more content.  Outback enjoys much better fuel economy without sacrificing competent acceleration.   

Pilot was all new for 2016.  Its boxy predecessor had languished with little revision since looked like Honda abducted Volvo engineers from the 1970's who never met a right angle they didn't like.  Now, though, it looks like a polished Acura.  Outback looks rugged and Highlander aggressive.

All three have a 3 year/36,000 mile comprehensive warranty and 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty.  All three have Bluetooth hands-free phone and audio connectivity, air conditioning, keyless entry, power windows, power mirrors, and much more.  All three boast an enviable reputation for quality.  



Premium AWD

LE Plus 4WD


Exterior Dimensions
Pilot is the largest, then Highlander, then Outback.

Length: 189"
Width: 72"
Height: 66"

Length: 191"
Width: 76"
Height: 68"

Length: 195"
Width: 79"
Height: 70"

Total Interior Space and
Front Leg Room
Boxy Pilot has a huge greenhouse.  Highlander and Pilot are better for big people and big families.  Notice that space for front seat passengers is comparable.

144 cubic feet
inches legroom

159 Cubic Feet
44 inches legroom

172 Cubic Feet
41 inches legroom


Cargo Area Cubic Feet
Highlander and Pilot drink gas and cost a lot more, but deliver big payoff in space.  Outback can still swallow two bikes without taking the wheels off.

2nd row down: 73
2nd row up:  36

2nd row down:
2nd row up:  79

2nd + 3rd Row up: 10

2nd row down: 84
2nd row up:  47
2nd + 3rd Row up: 17
Third Row Seating
This is a huge advantage for the Pilot and Highlander, but their only significant one over the Outback.  To get this capability, you sacrifice a lot of cost, fuel economy, and handling.  Your kids might not fit in the back of an Outback, but a big old dawg will.  

Third row not available.

Eight passenger

Eight(!) Passenger


Engines and Fuel Economy
Only Outback offers four cylinder with all wheel drive.  Highlander offers four banger only with front wheel drive.  Only Outback offers
Boxer engine.  Outback will save you a small fortune at the pump.

2.5 Liter Boxer Engine
Continuously variable 
automatic transmission

175 horsepower

  25 city, 32 highway 

3.5 Liter V6
6 speed automatic

270 horsepower

 17 city, 22 highway

3.5 Liter V6
6 Speed automatic transmission

280 horsepower

18 city, 26 highway

Fuel tank and range
You can drive by a lot of gas stations in the Outback.

18.5 gallons

Range:  591 miles

Range:  460 miles

19.5 gallons
Range:  507 miles


Optional Engines 
Pilot offers only one engine.  Nobody does Hybrids like Toyota, achieving almost 30mpg combined, but a loaded Hybrid Highlander can cost over $50,000! 

Optional 3.6 liter
Boxer six cylinder

20 city, 27 highway
256 horsepower

0-60 mph 7.1 seconds

Optional 3.5 liter
hybrid six cylinder

28 city, 28 highway
280 horsepower

0-60 mph 7.6 seconds
No other
engines available


All Wheel Drive

Subaru is best known for its legendary Symmetrical All Wheel Drive.  Outback was designed from the ground up with all wheel drive.  Honda and Toyota engineers started with front drivers and bolted on additional hardware later.

     Subaru system sends
varying power to all four
wheels all the time,
without pushing any
buttons.  All four wheels,
all the time, at any speed.

Normally, Highlander
system delivers power
only to the front wheels
until slippage is detected.
 To power all four wheels, "Locking mode" can be engaged with a button but turns off over 25mph.

Honda system is similar
to a traditional pickup
 truck 4WD drive system
but applied to a
drive platform.

Outback and Highlander can pull small trailers; Pilot can tow a small house!


(3,000 pounds with optional
3.6 liter, six cylinder engine)



Crash Tests


Subaru offers tremendous value, which is one reason why its sales have increased seven years in a row--unique in the industry. 


Outback Models
and Prices


Comes with
two years/25,000 miles
free maintenance


Purchase and Ownership Experience

You can buy a new Subaru at Planet, but not a new Honda or Toyota.

Exclusive Planet Benefit:  Planet Passport Program


Search our inventory for your Outback:


...Or look at our nice Honda and Toyota trades...

 Used Honda
 Used Toyota





When comparing the Subaru Outback with the Toyota Highlander and the Honda Pilot, you see why Planet is the best choice for finding the reviews you need, especially if you hail from Boston, Charlestown, Chelsea, Somerville, or the North Shore.