Crosstrek vs Outback: Subaru Crossover Comparison

Crosstrek vs Outback: Subaru Crossover Comparison

As a brand, Subaru gives a signature look to their vehicles that's part utilitarian and part athletic, with just the right amount of sophistication to bring the aesthetics altogether. It makes for an auto that's practical yet pleasing to the eye and loads of fun to drive. 

However, it's undeniable that their lineup of crossovers looks strikingly similar from one model to the next, and mistaking one for another can easily happen to the untrained eye. Nevertheless, each of the Subaru siblings features its unique personality and benefits. Like twins, once you get to know them, you'll undeniably be able to tell them apart.

In this article, we compare the Subaru Crosstrek and Outback so you can learn the difference between them and pick a favorite.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback, performance

The Crosstrek is built on the same base as the Subaru Impreza and also shares the same powertrain. Therefore, it drives more like a car but offers the higher ground clearance and extra cargo space of an SUV. Its firm suspension makes the Crosstrek graceful over bumps, and its well-weighted steering makes it a pleasure to drive.

The first two trim levels of the Crosstrek come standard with a two-liter, four-cylinder engine. Drivers can expect an output of 152 horsepower and a fuel efficiency of 27 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. If you prefer a more instant acceleration, the top two trim models feature a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with a continuously variable transmission that delivers an increase in punchiness at 152 horsepower. This engine allows for a fuel efficiency of 27 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. 

The Outback offers a driving experience similar to that of a station wagon. However, with a sleek and sporty exterior, it's nothing like the stereotypical wagons of yesteryear. Featuring the same 8.7-inch ground clearance and all-wheel-drive as the Crosstrek, the Outback can handle any weather in the forecast, and rugged back roads feel less harsh thanks to its appropriately tuned suspension and wide stance.

Your options are vast, with eight trim models of the Outback. The first half of the lineup comes standard with the same beefier 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine found in the Crosstrek. This engine achieves an output of 182 horsepower and a fuel efficiency of 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The upper half of the lineup comes with a turbocharged 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with an output of 260 horsepower and a fuel efficiency of 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway in most models.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback, size comparison

The Crosstrek easily seats five people with 100.9 cubic feet of passenger space and ample room left over for cargo. This compact crossover features 20.8 cubic feet of trunk space behind the back seats, which fold down to create a max cargo volume of 55.3 cubic feet. The vehicle's cockpit is quite roomy, with 39.8 inches of headroom and 43.1 inches of legroom. Rear passengers can stretch out as well, with 38 inches of headroom and 36.5 inches of legroom.

The Outback seats five people with wiggle room at 109 cubic feet of passenger space. The midsize crossover also features an increased capacity for your gear with 32.5 cubic feet behind the back seats and a max cargo volume of 75.7 cubic feet with the seats down. The front seats are spacious, with 40.1 inches of headroom and 42.8 inches of legroom. Passengers in the rear seats will be comfortable with 39.1 inches of headroom and 39.5 inches of legroom.

Its extra space gives the Outback some size on the Crosstrek, with 14 extra inches in length and two inches extra in width. While the extra cargo and passenger space is convenient, so is the additional handling that comes with the compact body size of the Crosstrek.

Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback, interior, and tech

Both the Crosstrek and the Outback feature clean interiors that appear practical in style. However, both come standard with features like an automatic climate control system, among others, which add to their comfortable interiors. Each also enables a commanding view of the road from the elevated driver's seat and extra visibility thanks to their vast windscreens, thinner roof pillars, and low side mirrors.

The Crosstrek comes standard with a 6.5-inch touchscreen infotainment system in the base model. You can connect to the system via Bluetooth or integrate your Apple or Android smartphone for audio streaming and hands-free calling. It also comes with a four-speaker audio system that upgrades as you move up to the next trim model along with the infotainment unit.

The Outback features the same touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and Apple or Android integration. The base model starts with a seven-inch screen and four-speaker audio system and moves up to 11.6 inches and a six-speaker audio system in the following trim model.

2017 Subaru Outback Limited (from $25,950)

2017 Subaru Outback Limited (from $25,950)
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Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback, safety

Featured as a top safety pick of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for every model since its introduction in 2013, Crosstrek models have met their plus-level criteria for several years running. All models tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association hold five stars as well.

The Outback has met the IIHS's criteria to be a "top safety pick plus" for nearly a decade and has held the status of a "top safety pick" for even longer. Additionally, it boasts five stars from the NHTSA across many models over several years.

The Outback comes standard with a suite of driver-assist and safety tech, including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane-keep assist. The suite is optional in the first two trim models of the Crosstrek and standard in the rest. Both vehicles also come standard with a rear-vision camera for added safety and convenience.

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Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback, price

The Crosstrek's new price tag of $22,245 for the base model is seemingly attractive. However, you're likely to find a more loaded model within the same budget with used Crosstreks listed for as little as $21,950. 

The base model for a new Outback starts higher at $26,945, with the most elevated trim model listed starting at $39,950. However, with used Outbacks listed for as little as $12,950, you're likely to spot a model that's perfect for you, with some cash left over to put toward your next road trip.

2018 Subaru Crosstrek Limited (from $23,700)

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 2018 Subaru Crosstrek Limited (from $23,700)
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Safe travels with Subaru

Despite their similarities, the Crosstrek and the Outback are two very different vehicles in size and features. If you love these two, you might also be interested in reading about their sibling, the Forester.

Whether it's a Subaru or any other make and model of vehicle that catches your eye, Shift offers best-in-class service contracts at a fair price. They do it without the sales pressure that comes with walking into a dealership. Most importantly, you get the excellent price and value of a used car with the bumper-to-bumper protection of a new one. 

If you want to see for yourself which vehicle you prefer, why not book a test drive?

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Author
Shift Editorial Team