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Rugged Crossover Matchup – Toyota Highlander vs Subaru Outback

Comparisons Reviews

Rugged Crossover Matchup – Toyota Highlander vs Subaru Outback

Toyota Highlander vs Subaru Outback

Toyota Highlander

Engine: 2.7L
Horsepower: 185+
Fuel Economy: 20 City / 25 Hwy
MSRP: Starting at $29,665

Inside the 2015 Toyota Highlander:

The Toyota Highlander is technically considered a midsized crossover SUV but it may be the largest vehicle in this class. With the optional 3rd row of seating, many families are opting away from the minivans and large SUV options for vehicles like the Highlander that give them the flexibility to accommodate a growing family. Consumers have five trim packages to choose from between the LE, LE Plus, XLE, Limited and Hybrid Limited. The Highlander is available in three drivetrain options with the standard offering being a four cylinder, 185 horsepower 2.7L engine. The additional upgrade options include a gasoline and hybrid engine, each with a 3.5L V6 engine with 270 horsepower. Starting in 2014, the Highlander received a complete overhaul and redesign that gave the large frame an even larger appearance without adding any more room to the interior.

Included with the Toyota Highlander are many features from Toyota. The Entune Infotainment system is easily one of our favorites. The LCD display is an impressive 6.1 inch LCD display, or the larger 8 inch premium display. Also standard equipment is the rearview backup camera with projected pathway to help guide you. Large blind spots where the rear posts are would make parallel parking difficult without the aid of a rear camera. Other features that make the Highlander a great family vehicle are the easy-access flip-up glass hatch window, adjustable power liftgate and eight airbag system. The IIHS named the Toyota Highlander a Top Safety Pick + and five star overall score; the two highest scores possible.

Subaru Outback

Engine: 2.5L
Horsepower: 175
Fuel Economy: 25 City / 33 Hwy
MSRP: Starting at $24,895

Inside the 2015 Subaru Outback:

The Subaru Outback a wagon which is a vehicle class that has been a seemingly dying breed which have fallen from popularity in the last decade. However, the Outback has been surging in popularity through the competition as this “wagon” has off-road capabilities and is also more aggressive than most SUVs. The Outback first hit the market with the 1994 model and immerged as one of the first crossover SUVs. A redesign for 2015 made the Outback much roomier and more powerful than the outgoing model. There are four trim options to choose from between the 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. The Outback comes equipped with a four-cylinder 2.5L DOHC Subaru Boxer® engine with 175 horsepower. The upgraded drivetrain is a 3.6L DOHC six-cylinder Subaru Boxer® with 256 horses.

Rather than cramming in a 3rd row of seats, the Outback opts to give passengers a comfortable riding experience for everyone. This gives the rear of the vehicle 35.5 cubic ft. of cargo room and 73.3 cubic ft. when the rear seats are lowered. Subaru offers a wide range in technology features and an advanced collision avoidance system. The Subaru Starlink infotainment system includes a 6.2 in. LCD touchscreen display that connects to your smartphone for hands-free integration. A 7 in. premium display is available that incorporates SiriusXM Satelite Radio. The infotainment center is also home to many of the safety features and monitor systems. These include a tire pressure monitoring system, Brake Assist, Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) and the rear-vision camera which is standard. Available technology is the impressive EyeSight® driver assist technology. This suite of safety technology includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking system, and lane departure and sway warning function.

Our Pick for Winner:

Base Model: Toyota Highlander

The Toyota Highlander is equipped with some amazing technology features at even the base level offering. The rear view camera and Toyota Entune system are two of the best in the industry. Also, the LE base model comes with seating for 8 passengers rather than making the third row an add-on feature.

Upgrades: Subaru Outback

While the Subaru lost significant points for only offering the V6 engine on one trim level, it more than made up for it with its wide variety of available safety features, increased fuel economy compared to the Highlander, and the quiet riding experience. The Outback saw increased sales numbers in 2014 and coming into this year improved even more.  Those few things that may have deterred people away from the Outback such as loud engine noises, are now a thing of the past. Ultimately the Outback offers more to consumers at a lower price point than the Toyota Highlander.

Overall Winner:

Subaru Outback

Whereas the Highlander is only the 2nd top performing crossover SUV from Toyota, the Outback leads the charge for Subaru’s continued successful sales numbers in America and accounts for nearly 1/4th of all vehicles sold. The Outback nameplate give it the automatic connotation that this is an off road beast; and it is. The 73.3 cubic feet of total cargo room means you can pack all your supplies for any weekend adventure.

2015 Subaru Outback

Dustin "Dusty" Rhodes

A fan of nice round numbers and working on tiny European cars, Dusty is the proud owner of a '58 Lloyd 600, a '50 FIAT 500, and is currently on the hunt for a Vespa 400. And, despite all that repair work, he still finds time to write about cars. 

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