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2025 Subaru Forester Vs 2025 Outback, The Tables Are Turned

Should you buy the all-new 2025 Subaru Forester or the 2025 Subaru Outback? Is there a clear winner? Check out the differences here before you buy.

Which is the best, the 2025 Forester vs. the 2025 Outback?

The Subaru Forester is Subaru of America's best-selling all-wheel-drive vehicle, but is it the best? Now that the remodeled Forester is available for customers, how does the next-generation 2025 Forester compact SUV, with its unique features and improvements, compare with the 2025 Subaru Outback midsize SUV? 

Let's start with the similarities between the two Subaru SUVs. There are many family resemblances under the body sheet metal. The Outback and Forester both come standard with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system. In addition, both have 8.7 inches of ground clearance. 

They also share the same X-Mode and dual-function X-Mode all-terrain technology. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engine powers some Outback trim levels and all 2025 Forester trims.

Both Forester and Outback offer a rugged, outdoor-themed Wilderness trim level. My latest Wilderness comparison report is available here.  

The Outback and Forester, both equipped with Subaru's EyeSight driver-assist safety system, provide top safety crash scores from the IIHS, ensuring your safety on the road. But that is where the similarities end.

Size and driving dynamics

You can see the difference on the outside, sitting side by side. The Outback has a longer wheelbase (191.9 inches vs. 183.3) and a lower vehicle height (66.1 inches vs. 68.1 inches). Outback has a longer wheelbase (108.1 inches vs Forester's 105.1 inches), resulting in a smoother and car-like ride for the Outback. 

It's important to note the taller Forester has better outward visibility.

Subaru Boxer Engine and Towing Capacity

The Forester has a 2.5-liter Boxer engine producing 180 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque. The Outback offers an optional 2.4-liter turbocharged engine, which the Forester does not provide.

The Outback 2.4-liter turbocharged engine option produces 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. In addition, the Outback can tow up to 3,500 lbs, while the Forester can only tow 1,500 lbs on standard trims and 3,000 lbs on Forester Wilderness. Read my 2025 Forester Wilderness report here

Fuel Mileage

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the Forester edges ahead, offering slightly better gas mileage on the highway. The Outback achieves 26/32 city/highway mpg, while the Forester with the 2.5-liter engine manages 26/33 city/highway mpg. This difference, though slight, could be a deciding factor for those with long commutes or frequent highway trips.

Rear Seats and Cargo Space

Both have two rows of seats and will seat five passengers, but the Outback offers more rear-seat legroom. The Outback provides more cargo space, with 32.6 cubic feet vs. 29.6 cu ft. for the Forester Base trim (27.5 cu ft. all other trims) behind the rear seats. With the seats folded flat, the Outback has a max cargo volume of 75.6 vs. Forester's 74.4 Base trim max cargo (69.1 cu ft all other trims).

The Forester allows larger cargo loading with a 39.9-inch rear gate opening. The Outback comes with standard retractable roof rail crossbars, but they are an accessory with the Forester.

Comfort and Conveniences

Inside, the Outback offers the more luxurious Nappa leather seats with a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat and thigh support, while the Forester does not. The Outback also offers ventilated front seats. The Forester offers a larger panoramic moonroof, but not the Outback.

Interior Technology and Safety

The Outback offers a Smart rearview mirror. 

The Forester offers a foot-activated, hands-free Power Rear Gate with automatic close, height memory function, and vehicle lock button, while the Outback does not.

Forester offers a 360-degree Surround View Monitor; Outback has a 180-degree Front-View Monitor. 


Note: For the first time, the lower Forester Base and Premium trims are more expensive than the Outback. 

What is the 2025 Forester pricing?

The 2025 Forester has five trim levels: Base ($31,090), Premium ($33,390), Sport ($35,890), Limited ($37,390), and Touring ($38,490). Pricing includes destination and dealer fees ($1,395).

What Is The 2025 Outback Pricing?

The Outback is available in nine trim levels: Base ($30,290), Premium ($32,590), Onyx Edition ($37,500), Limited ($39,250), Touring ($41,740), Onyx Edition XT ($40,755), Wilderness ($41,355), Limited XT ($41,590), and Touring XT ($44,190). In addition, destination and delivery fees are included in the price above ($1,395).

In my previous comparison of the Forestry and Outback, I gave the nod to the Outback because of its 2.4-liter turbocharged Boxer engine upgrade, towing capacity, and superior driving dynamics. They are still significant, but the next-generation 2025 Forester has caught the Outback and passed it in the technology category. 

So now that the next-generation Forester has arrived, the Outback is no longer the clear winner. 

You can weigh in.

What do you think of the new 2025 Forester? Will you choose it over the Outback? Click the red Add New Comment link below and join the discussion.

I am Denis Flierl, a top Torque News reporter since 2012. I’ve invested over 13 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role, working with every major car brand. I am an experienced Rocky Mountain Automotive Press member. You'll find my expert Subaru analysis here. Follow me on my X SubaruReportAll Subaru, WRXSTI, @DenisFlierlFacebook, and Instagram.

Photo credit: Subaru


Z1az (not verified)    June 28, 2024 - 12:58PM

honestly, i don't care for either model. for me based on the article the outback is the clear winner, but at this stage its the ECVT transmission that matters more than anything else so i am only going to consider the upcoming hybrids or nothing.
i have had enough of replacing the CVT fluid every 30,000 miles

Ken Wawrew (not verified)    June 28, 2024 - 1:19PM

When it comes to cargo space between the Forester and Outback, I don’t think the cubic foot measurements tells the whole story. I think you have to look at the usable square feet of storage between the two. I think you will find the differential to be significantly larger than the cubic foot differential. I went for the Outback and this is one of the reasons. I found the Outback drives nicer as well. We have had one Forester and five Outback’s.

Peter Hutchison (not verified)    June 29, 2024 - 6:51AM

You fail to mention the touch screen display controls -my main gripe with my Outback’s Limited. There are no hard knobs to control the climate system, everything is only accessible via the main touchscreen panel. Not only is this very annoying it’s dangerous, especially in winter. You can’t operate the defrosting with gloves on. When it fogs up you have to visually locate the controls and free your fingers to adjust them. HOW DID THIS PASS THE SAFETY STANDARDS? Give me a hard knob or switch on the dash please.

Joe (not verified)    July 2, 2024 - 2:23AM

In reply to by Peter Hutchison (not verified)

I have a 2020 Legacy. It’s a great car except for the touch screen display. Features buried in too many menus, icons too small and a very low sensitivity touchscreen (the worst I’ve used in any car) make it frustrating and at times dangerous (try the touchscreens in almost any Audi and you’ll see/feel the difference. . Too bad the Legacy is gone after ‘24.

Adam (not verified)    June 29, 2024 - 7:21AM

Subaru needs to put the 4 cylinder 260 turbo engine into the Forester. The old XT Forester is miles better than whatever lipstick they are putting on the current weak engines.

Bob jones (not verified)    June 29, 2024 - 9:42AM

Bought a new Forester for $18,600 around 2018. Now base price is almost $32k. There is no way I would buy it when for a few more pennies you could get a Toyota Sienna hybrid, a Nissan Pathfinder, or many wonderful used vehicles repossessed in increasing numbers as peoples salary is not keeping up with these increased prices.

Richard D Ramon (not verified)    July 2, 2024 - 5:51PM

Prefer the Outback for comfortable ride and better back seat foot room. Outback has more cargo room with sears up or doen. Exterior appearance and aerodynanics make the Outback my choice.

Dreamt (not verified)    July 4, 2024 - 9:11AM

I bought a new Forester in 2010 and am still driving it today. It has had very little major maintenance except for replacing the air conditioner compressor this year. With that kind of reliability, I’d be hard pressed to know why I should buy a Subaru made in the USA. But I don’t know reliability stats on the Outback. Also I notice that the price spread on the Outback is very wide. Most of the data are statistically insignificant in their differences.