Subaru Crosstrek vs. Subaru Outback Differences

When you're trying to decide on a rugged, adventure-ready vehicle that'll accommodate the whole family, the choice of Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback is a hard one to go wrong with. We've compared the nimble Crosstrek against other Subaru family members in our Crosstrek vs. Forester guide, but now it's time for the Outback to go head-to-head against it. To be frank, you'll find similar do-it-all capabilities, desirable tech features, and plenty of practicality in both. Your daily commute will be complemented by the latest in modern tech and comfort, while your weekend getaways will be easier than ever. To begin, let's compare the specs between a Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback:

2021 Subaru Crosstrek 2021 Subaru Outback
Starting MSRP: $22,245* $26,795*
Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC engine 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine
Performance:
  • Power: 152 hp @ 6,000 rpm
  • Torque: 145 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
  • Power: 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm
  • Torque: 176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
EPA-Estimated MPG (Highway /City): 29/22 MPG 33/26 MPG
Maximum Towing Capacity: 1,500 lbs 2,700 lbs
Cargo Volume: 20.8 cubic feet 32.5 cubic feet
Maximum cargo volume: 55.3 cubic feet with rear seats lowered 75.7 cubic feet with rear seats lowered
Shop 2021 Subaru Crosstrek Shop 2021 Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback: A Time Tested Formula, Now More Modern Than Ever

A significant difference between the Crosstrek and Outback is that the latter hit the market first. Released for the 1995 model year, Subaru created an instant hit with the Outback. How? Well, with the practical and capable Legacy wagon as its basis, the Outback added greater ground clearance and some rugged exterior tweaks to the mix. Offering the refined driving style and interior of the road-going Legacy but with all-terrain capabilities proved to be what the world wanted. Powered by a naturally aspirated or turbocharged four-cylinder SUBARU BOXER® engine, and using the iconic Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, the Outback has continuously evolved and improved - that brings us to today.

Retaining all that made it a hit, the Outback is on its sixth generation and now stands as a unique vehicle, without a Legacy wagon to parallel it. Adding some modern SUV styling into the traditional wagon mix, the Outback still slots into a midsize spot in the Subaru lineup and still offers an iconic blend of AWD capabilities, Boxer engines, and the latest features on the market. Beyond specs like the Subaru Outback towing capacity, ground clearance, and tech included, you get 26 years of adventure-ready evolution to back it all up.

Subaru Crosstrek: A Small, but Still Mighty Counterpart to the Outback Formula

So, we know the Outback was a hit because it elevated the on-road refinement of the Legacy. The cool part about the Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback battle is that a very similar idea created both. The Crosstrek debuted in 2013, and the Impreza five-door hatchback was chosen to receive the treatment. On a compact basis, the nimble, faithful everyday Impreza received notable changes like a suspension lift for more ground clearance, along with exterior elements like the bumpers and wheels getting new designs.

What's more, the compact nature doesn't negate any of those beloved on- and off-road capabilities. With a Subaru Crosstrek lease, you'll get slightly less power and smaller interior space than an Outback, but you're still getting a nigh-unstoppable mountain goat of a car. Small size does mean bigger agility though, and the Crosstrek offers enjoyment in its handling and peppy Boxer power from the city to the trails. You'll find all this adds up to a compact crossover SUV that's a unique experience from the now-crowded segment. Whether it's a Subaru Crosstrek or Outback you choose, you're guaranteed a similar list of virtues, but with size being the biggest difference.

The Subaru Crosstrek vs. Outback Battle Rages On

As we compare Subaru Crosstrek and Outback virtues against each other, you'll see many similarities. The obvious ones are a four-cylinder SUBARU BOXER® engine, Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, and a Lineartronic® CVT transmission for the powertrain. An 8.7" ground clearance can be found with both (though higher on some Outback trims), further adding to the all-terrain proficiency. Under the skin, you'll also find that both now ride on the Subaru Global Platform. Interior layout will also be similar between the two thanks to this.

As seen on the chart above, the major difference that sets apart the Crosstrek vs. Outback involves size. Less cargo room, power, and towing capacity come with the Crosstrek, but a lower price and increased agility offsets that. Meanwhile, the exterior looks are the next most obvious difference, though both are truly eye-catching modern designs. The next major difference is in trim, as the Outback offers a somewhat larger assortment of them, as well as features, tech, and luxury options to choose from.

At the end of the day, you really can't go wrong with either a Crosstrek or Outback if you're looking for an adventure-ready SUV. To make your choice as informed as possible, visit our dealership. Our friendly sales staff will help you explore the two vehicles in person so you can truly fall in love with the one that's right for you and your lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much bigger is the Outback than the Crosstrek?

A fair bit, but not dramatically. The main difference in dimension involves the length, as a 2021 Outback measures 191.3 inches long, while a 2021 Crosstrek comes in at 176.5 inches long. Not counting mirrors, a 2021 Outback is 73.0 inches wide, while a Crosstrek is 71.0 inches wide. Height is a similar story, as an Outback is 66.1 inches tall, and a Crosstrek measures 63.6 inches tall. Ground clearance though is the same for both at 8.7 inches.

Which has the most cargo space, the Crosstrek or Outback?

The Outback has more cargo space than the Crosstrek. Measuring 32.5 cubic feet, normally, and 75.7 cubic feet with the rear seats folded, the 2021 Outback has enough cargo space for most loads. The Crosstrek, while smaller, can still carry quite a lot. Namely, you're looking at 20.8 cubic feet normally, and 55.3 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.

How much longer is the Outback than the Crosstrek?

The Outback is longer by 14.8 inches. As a larger step up in the Subaru lineup, an Outback is larger than the Crosstrek in most dimensions, but length is the most significant. Specifically, you're looking at 191.3 inches of length for a 2021 Outback, and 176.5 inches of length for a 2021 Crosstrek.

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