June is National Camping Month, and with summer fast approaching, many outdoor enthusiasts will use their SUVs to get away. Kelly Blue Book (KBB) just came out with the best trucks, cars, and SUVs for camping in 2021. Two Subaru models are on the list, the trail-ready 2021 Subaru Outback, and the 2014-2018 Forester. But what about the hot-selling 2021 Subaru Forester?
Is the Forester or Outback best for camping?
All 2021 Forester and Outback trims come standard with Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive, 8.7-inches of ground clearance, and both offer a "dual-function" version of X-Mode that can be driver-selected to different terrains for off-pavement adventures. So it's a tie for off-road ability.
How big is the 2021 Subaru Outback and Forester?
The Subaru Outback is almost two inches wider and eight inches longer, while Forester is two inches taller. Both have excellent outward visibility, with Forester being the best with oversized greenhouse windows. The Outback has 32.5 cubic feet of cargo-carrying ability with the seats up; Forester has 35.4 cubes. Outback offers 75.7 cubic feet; Forester has a bit more with 76.1 cubic feet, with the seats folded flat.
Outback has slightly more space for people with 109 cubic feet and Forester 107.8 cubes. Rear legroom is very similar, with Outback scoring 39.5 inches and Forester 39.4 inches of rear legroom. We give Forester a nod for its extra room for camping gear and headroom if you sleep inside.
What is the difference in engine power?
Standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder Boxer engines in both cars produce 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque and run on regular unleaded gasoline. Both come with a Lineartronic CVT automatic (Continually Variable Transmission). Both get an EPA estimated 26/33 city/highway mpg.
Outback comes with an optional 2.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 260 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque. It gets an estimated 23/30 city/highway mpg. If you need more power to carry extra cargo and passengers up a high mountain pass, the Outback XT turbo is the better choice for you.
But you pay an extra $6,000-$8,000 more for the Outback XT trim over a Forester Premium or Sport trim. We give the advantage to Forester for its affordability.
What if I want to tow a small trailer or camper?
If you need to tow a small trailer Outback has 2700 lbs of towing capacity with the standard 2.5-liter engine and 3,500 lbs with the optional 2.4-liter turbocharged engine. Forester has a maximum towing capacity of 1,500 lbs—advantage Outback.
What is the price of the 2021 Subaru Forester?
The 2021 Forester comes in five trim levels, and the base trim has an MSRP of $25,845, Premium ($28,845), Sport ($30,445), Limited ($32,445), and Touring ($35,945). Pricing includes $1,050 destination.
What is the price of the 2021 Subaru Outback?
The 2021 Outback comes in seven trim levels, base $27,845, Premium ($30,095), Limited ($34,645), Onyx Edition XT ($36,195), Limited XT ($38,545), Touring ($39,045), and Touring XT ($40,995). Pricing includes $1,050 destination.
We give the nod to the 2021 Subaru Forester over the 2021 Subaru Outback for the best camping vehicle for three reasons. The Forester offers more cargo-carrying ability, the Forester is affordable, and if you sleep inside, you'll want the extra headroom. We think there is a clear winner.
That will change when the all-new 2022 Subaru Outback Wilderness arrives this summer. Check out why in the Torque News report below.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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