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Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Crosstrek: What’s The Difference?

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Subaru Outback

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Subaru has manufactured reliable crossovers for many years and is often at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re searching for one. With multiple strong offerings in this category from Subaru, it can be hard to figure out exactly what the differences are between models and which one is right for you. We want you to walk away with the best Subaru crossover for you, which is why we’ve compiled this Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Crosstrek guide!

A Brief Overview

While both the Subaru Outback and Subaru Crosstrek are crossovers made by the same manufacturer, they have some high-level differences that make them unique right from the start. The Outback is a midsize crossover and commonly referred to as a wagon, hailed for its capabilities in going off-road and making more difficult journeys.

The Crosstrek, on the other hand, is a compact crossover that’s smaller and less powerful than the Outback. This SUV is more suited to driving in the city with its ability to weave in and out of traffic and fit into smaller spaces. Both vehicles have consistently received great reviews over the years, so quality isn’t what you should look for when trying to find the difference in Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Crosstrek. What you want to know ahead of time is what you’ll mainly be using your crossover for because that’ll be a major factor in deciding between the two.


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For the first few trim levels of the Subaru Crosstrek, you’ll get a 2.0 Liter engine with four cylinders that gets up to 152 horsepower. As of 2021, you can get a 2.5 Liter engine that gets up to 182 horsepower with some of the more advanced trims.

The Crosstrek also currently offers the option of getting an electric hybrid version, though this is only for a little while, so if you want one, you may have to act fast. You’ll have to get Continuously Variable Transmission if you want the hybrid, but for all other Crosstrek models, you have a choice between that and a 6-speed manual transmission. All Subaru Crosstreks come standard with All Wheel Drive, which is a great bonus.

You can only get gas-powered engines with the Subaru Outback, but this crossover is more powerful than the Crosstrek overall. For the first four trims, the Outback comes with the same 2.5 Liter, 182 horsepower engine that the advanced Crosstrek trims get. However, if you go for one of the Outback’s top-of-the-line XT trims, you’ll receive a turbocharged, 260 horsepower engine, reflecting the Outback’s increased performance over the Crosstrek.

In addition to being more powerful, the Outback is also just larger than the Crosstrek in general. It has 3 extra inches on its wheelbase compared to the Crosstrek and is roughly 14 inches longer, 2 inches wider, and almost 3 inches taller. Furthermore, the Outback’s cargo space is almost 36 cubic feet when the seats are up and almost 76 when the seats are down. The Crosstrek has much less room than this, providing almost 21 cubic feet of space when the seats are up and 56 when they’re down.  


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Gas Mileage

With its base engine and manual transmission, the Subaru Crosstrek has an estimated gas mileage of 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on the highway, which isn’t stellar. It’s only up from here, though, as the CVT version of the Crosstrek greatly enhances the SUV’s fuel economy, pumping the numbers up to 28 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway.

The Crosstrek’s 2.5 Liter engine doesn’t help the gas mileage much (receiving 27 miles per gallon in the city and about 34 on the highway), but it also doesn’t hurt it, so you get all that extra power without tossing out any fuel efficiency. If your main priority is gas mileage, though, you should go with the electric hybrid. It gets a combined 35 city/highway mpg, making it the most fuel-efficient version of the Crosstrek.

One key area that the Crosstrek outshines the Outback in is gas mileage. The Outback’s initial 2.5 Liter engine gets 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway, while the extra powerful turbocharged engine gets 23 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway. Of course, this is because the Outback has a higher performance, and the difference isn’t huge, but it’s still worth noting. If fuel efficiency is a deciding factor for you when comparing Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Crosstrek, the Crosstrek wins out here.


Both the Crosstrek and the Outback have great technological features, but the Outback wins out for its excellent suite of cutting-edge tech. The base trim of the Crosstrek comes with acceptable equipment that promotes safety, but you don’t get much in the way of cool features until you get to the Limited trim. The Outback, on the other hand, boasts features like an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as multi-touch control.

The difference in the levels of technology you’ll receive in the base trims of both vehicles is reflected across all the trims, as the Crosstrek’s equipment can never quite keep up with the Outback. When pitting Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Crosstrek in terms of sheer technological prowess, the Outback wins handily.


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The Subaru Crosstrek is cheaper than the Outback, but both have varying prices depending on the trim level you get. The Crosstrek’s base trim starts around $23,300, but you’re pretty much just getting the basics with this one. Many people tend to shoot for at least the Limited trim if they can afford it. This one tends to sit around $29,000 and gets you more of the features that you might expect from a modern car, such as adaptive cruise control.

For the Outback’s pricing, you can basically take whatever level of trim you’re getting from the Crosstrek and add about $4,000. The base Outback starts at roughly $29,000 and goes up to about $41,000.

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