Subaru Outback vs Toyota RAV4


Subaru Outback Premium vs Toyota RAV4 XLE AWD


Planet's Executive Summary
The RAV4, a "small crossover," began life as a compact Corolla, with which it shares a platform.  The Outback grew from Subaru's midsize Legacy, so the Outback is a larger, more substantial vehicle.  The distance between the axles ("wheelbase") is over three inches longer on the Subaru, so the ride is smoother compared to the RAV4 with its closer-set axles.  Outback is significantly longer--nine inches. 

RAV4 typically competes with Subaru Forester or Honda CR-V, but we see people comparing it with the Outback, too.  With either the Outback or the RAV4, you can drive a practical vehicle with a great reputation for quality, value, and longevity for under $30,000.  Outback costs about $1,500 more but you get a lot more car.

Let's start with what they have in common:

Standard Features
  • Bluetooth phone connectivity
  • Steering wheel audio controls
  • Power windows, locks, mirrors
  • 3 year, 36,000 mile comprehensive warranty; 5/60 powertrain
Standard Safety:
  • Vehicle stability control to avoid skids
  • Brake override system
  • Anti-lock brakes with brake assist
  • Learn all about how these safety features work
  • Both are same width.
  • Outback is nine inches longer.
  • Outback is half an inch taller.


All Wheel Drive System

Outback was built from the ground up with all wheel drive; Toyota started with a front driver and bolted some extra hardware later. 


All wheel drive optional. 

Ground clearance
Subaru engineers keep mass low for good handling, but clearance high for better performance in the snow and off road. 

6.3 inches

8.7 inches

Cargo Space

RAV4 has slightly more volume but Outback swallows bicycles better because it is nine inches longer. 


73 cubic feet (seats down)
38 cubic feet (seats up)


73 cubic feet (seats down)
36 cubic feet (seats up)

Passenger Volume

Outback is larger inside, which is expected considering that Outback is a Midsize SUV rather than a Compact SUV.

101 Cubic Feet

108 cubic feet

Standard Engine and acceleration
Outback is heavier but accelerates more quickly and offers nearly double the towing capacity.

2.5 liter in-line four
cylinder with
176 horsepower

0-60mph:  9.1 seconds

1,500 pound towing capacity

2.5 liter four cylinder
Boxer engine
 with 175 horsepower

0-60mph:  8.8 seconds

2,700 pound towing capacity
Fuel Economy
Outback gets better mileage in large part because of its more advanced transmission.

Six speed automatic transmission

AWD: 22 city, 28 hwy

Continuously variable
auto transmission

AWD: 25 city, 32 hwy

Need some extra go-go?


Optional 2.5 liter
hybrid four cylinder:
34 city, 30 highway
194 horsepower

Optional 3.6 liter
six cylinder:
20 city, 27 highway
256 horsepower

Outward Visibility

Notice how narrow the rear windows are in the rear of the RAV4?  In the Outback, you see areas that are blind spots in the RAV4.  Outback has been recognized for outstanding visibility.






RAV4 keeps front seat passengers in place with knee airbags; Outback relies on seat cushion airbags that deploy from flat part of seat to prevent "submarining" under the seat belt.

  • Two front airbags that deploy from the steering wheel or dash;
  • Two torso airbags that deploy from the edge of the front seats;
  • Two curtain airbags that deploy from the roof
  • Two knee airbags for driver and front passenger.


  • Two front airbags that deploy from the steering wheel or dash;
  • Two torso airbags that deploy from the edge of the front seats;
  • Two curtain airbags that deploy from the roof
  • Two seat cushion airbags for driver and front passenger.

Purchase and Ownership Experience

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

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Toyota covers oil
changes for two
years or 25,000

Not available

Crash Tests by Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Both earn the highest rating, Top Safety Pick Plus, when equipped with optional driver assistance technology.

RAV4 test results

Outback test results

Search our inventory for your Outback:


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



If you're in the market for a Toyota RAV4 or a Subaru Outback and you live in Cambridge, Plymouth, Boston, Newton, or Arlington, then you owe it to yourself to visit Planet Subaru to learn about which one is the best for you.
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