The Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Which Should You Take Off-Roading?

Genevieve Fraser
Dec 1, 2021 · 5 min read
"Should I purchase the Subaru Forester or Outback for off-road adventures?" This is a question that many Subaru fans might find themselves asking, and it's understandable. The two crossover SUVs have excellent features and similar pricing.
To give you a better idea of the subtle differences in performance, amenities, and off-road abilities in the 2021 Subaru Forester vs. the Outback, let’s take a closer look at the two models.
A dark blue 2021 Subaru Forester driving down a road with grass-covered hills on either side
The 2021 Subaru Forester offers a smooth ride and user-friendly tech.

Performance and towing capacity in the 2021 Subaru Forester vs. Outback

When it comes to a 2021 Subaru Forester vs. Outback comparison, performance is comparable but there are some key differences in options.
According to Motor Biscuit, both vehicles come standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that offers 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is respectable at 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway.
Each vehicle is equipped with an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), according to Planet Subaru.
If you’re seeking a little extra power, there is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder turbo option for the 2021 Outback, offering 260 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque according to Motor Biscuit. It gets 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, according to Planet Subaru.
Although a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder used to be available for the Forester, it is no longer an option for 2021. Planet Subaru suggests a used Forester XT as an alternative.
The Outback is a little quicker to accelerate than the Forester, going from zero to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds, according to Motor Biscuit. The Forester clocked in at 9.3 seconds.
The Outback and Forester both handle well and steering is responsive, according to Motor Biscuit. However, the Forester has the edge, with a sportier overall feel, more responsive steering, braking, and handling, and a smoother ride on bumpy terrain—important features in a good off-roader.
Wind noise is a little bothersome as speeds increase, but for off-roading, this isn’t likely to be an issue.
The models differ substantially when it comes to towing capacity. The Outback outshines the Forester in this metric, towing a maximum of 2,700 lbs (or 3,500 lbs with the upgraded turbo engine). The Subaru Forester, on the other hand, can tow 1,500 lbs maximum.

The Forester vs. Outback: storage and tech options

There are only slight differences in the 2021 Forester vs. Outback when it comes to storage space, but both have plenty of room for all your outdoor gear.
The Outback has a little more space behind the second row. As indicated by Motor Biscuit, you get 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space compared to the Forester's 31.1 cubic feet.
The trend continues when the seats are down, with the Outback getting a total of 75.7 cubic feet and the Forester getting 74.3 cubic feet.
Interior space is critical to ensure that passengers enjoy a comfortable off-roading experience. In this area, the Forester trumps the Outback. According to Subaru’s comparison tool, passenger volumes for the 2021 Forester vs. Outback are 111.9 and 109 cubic feet, respectively.
The Forester offers more headroom and front legroom than the Outback, but rear legroom and overall shoulder room are pretty much on par for both vehicles.
Subaru demonstrated its commitment to guaranteeing Forester and Outback drivers top-notch safety on the road. Both models received the highest “Top Safety Pick PLUS” ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), according to Planet Subaru.
Tech-wise, the Outback has larger standard and optional display screens. The Outback comes standard with two seven-inch screens, while the Forester comes with one 6.5-inch screen. These can be upgraded to an 11.5-inch vertical display for the Outback and an eight-inch display for the Forester.
Despite its smaller size, the Forester’s tech is superior when it comes to user experience. Motor Biscuit noted that the Forester system is less complicated, with better graphics and improved voice recognition.
USB ports, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are all included, so you can stay connected on the go.

Choosing the best Subaru SUV for off-road adventures

Considering the Subaru Forester vs. the Outback overall for your off-roading adventures, both of these all-wheel drives have positive attributes.
With the optional turbocharged engine, the Outback offers a little more power. Plus, its towing capacity and cargo space ensure that you can haul your off-roading gear comfortably.
Yet, the Forester has a sporty feel, more user-friendly tech, and handles bumpy terrain without sacrificing a smooth ride. According to Subaru, the Forester is also a bit cheaper, starting at $24,795 compared to $26,795 for the Outback.
Ultimately, your choice should depend on the features that suit your off-roading lifestyle the best.
Whichever model you choose, don’t forget to insure it with coverage that fits your lifestyle and budget. Jerry is the easiest and most effective way to find a car insurance policy that is customized for you.
After providing you with a comprehensive cross-analysis of the best policies across providers, Jerry will handle the phone calls, paperwork, and renewals for your top pick so that you don’t have to. They even help cancel your old policy! So why do all that extra work when Jerry can do it better?

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

√
No long forms
√
No spam or unwanted phone calls
√
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings — it's 100% free