The Subaru Outback or the Toyota 4Runner are good options if you want a little adventure or just a capable and comfortable SUV for the whole family. Although they are both classified as medium SUVs, they perform differently, and one puts comfort first, while the other puts off-road performance first.
We’ll compare the Outback and the 4Runner in this post, highlighting their benefits and weaknesses to help you choose which car is best for you. Travis Langness of Edmunds contributes his knowledge of both models to this comprehensive guide, including personal recommendations.
These two SUVs take distinct methods to comparable jobs. Although they are identical in length from bumper to bumper, they differ in passenger room, cargo space, available powertrains, and available in-car technology. Although they are both adventure games, the type of journey you plan on having will determine which one you choose.
Toyota 4Runner vs Subaru Outback
Engines and fuel economy
The Toyota 4Runner is available with only one engine. Although rear-wheel-drive is offered on some models, most 4Runners come standard with four-wheel drive. All Subaru Outback models come with all-wheel drive and a choice of two engines. The Toyota 4Runner has the following features:
- The engine is a 4.0-litre V6 (270 horsepower, 278 lb-ft of torque)
- Automatic transmission with five speeds
The EPA estimates the 4Runner’s fuel economy to be:
- With both rear- and four-wheel drive, the combined fuel economy is 18 mpg.
The Subaru Outback for 2020 comes with:
- A 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine is standard (182 hp, 176 lb-ft of torque)
- Optional 2.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (260 hp, 277 lb-ft)
- A continuously variable automatic transmission is used by both engines (CVT)
The EPA estimates the Outback’s fuel economy to be:
- With the 2.5-litre engine, you’ll get 29 mpg combined.
- With the 2.4-litre engine, you’ll get 26 mpg combined.
While the 4Runner’s V6 engine produces more power, the Outback provides various engine options. It also outperforms the 4Runner in terms of EPA fuel economy estimates.
Utility and interior
Both the Outback and the 4Runner have ample room for five people. In various configurations, the Toyota additionally has a third-row seat, seating seven people. Remember that the third row is tight and should only be used by little toddlers.
The cargo space behind the rear seats of a five-passenger 4Runner is 46.3 cubic feet, and the Subaru has a cargo capacity of only 32.5 cubic feet. This difference allows the 4Runner to fit a couple more small luggage in the trunk.
The 4Runner triumphs once more in tow. It can tow up to 5,000 pounds when properly outfitted, but the Outback can only tow up to 3,500 pounds. That’s plenty for a modest vehicle trailer or a boat with the Toyota. You’ll probably want to stick to lighter trailers in the Subaru.
The Subaru has the advantage in terms of cabin design and material quality. The interior features a larger, clearer center touchscreen and a high-quality dashboard and center-console materials.
Moreover, while being shorter than the 4Runner, the Outback feels big and spacious, with ample headroom for people. With massive, solid knobs, the interior of the 4Runner prioritizes function above form. However, because there is a lot of hollow plastic in the structure, it doesn’t feel as posh.
Subaru excels in terms of both style and utility. The Outback has a sleeker, more aerodynamic appearance than the vast, boxy 4Runner. Second, luxury features such as the power tilting and sliding glass moonroof will be more widely available.
Plus, select grades come with LED steering-responsive headlights, allowing you to see what’s around a bend before turning, which the 4Runner lacks.
These two SUVs’ infotainment systems take distinct methods. An 11.6-inch touchscreen is standard on most Subaru Outbacks. The eye-catching graphics are enticing, but the learning curve is severe.
Buttons can be difficult to locate, and the voice command system struggles to comprehend standard English. The infotainment system of the 4Runner is relatively basic.
The 2019 4Runner sports a tiny 6.1-inch screen with mediocre graphics and low resolution. Thankfully, the 2020 and future models will have a larger, more feature-rich screen. The audio controls are huge and simple to operate, regardless of the year 4Runner, you’re looking for.
The situation is similar when it comes to essential and optional driving aids. Many driver aids, including lane-departure warnings and adaptive cruise control, are not available on older 4Runners built-in 2019, and Toyota ultimately included them as standard equipment in 2020.
The 2020 Subaru Outback comes standard with these driving aids. The Subaru has a modest advantage over the 4Runner thanks to an excellent adaptive cruise control system that responds slightly faster.
Outback can handle rugged terrain and tack into inclement weather with dependable handling thanks to Active Torque Vectoring for razor-sharp cornering abilities and standard Subaru Symmetrical AWD with X-MODE.
The 4Runner comes standard with rear-wheel drive, with part-time 4WD being the only option and no steering compensation mode. EyeSight, our automaker’s patented driver-assistance package, comes standard on the Outback.
It works as an added set of eyes, assisting you in staying on track, keeping a safe distance from traffic, and avoiding collisions. Toyota’s passive Star Safety System is standard on the 4Runner, but its active safety system, Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P), isn’t.
What do they like to drive?
The Subaru Outback is comfier and quieter on the road than the Toyota 4Runner, and it also has more precise steering and handling. The Toyota is less enjoyable in windy conditions, and its handling is looser at highway speeds.
The Subaru seats are plush and supportive, ideal for extended road trips. The Toyota’s seats, in comparison, are a bit flat. They’ll suffice for daily journeys, but road-trip tiredness can develop after a while.
The tables are turned off-road. The Outback’s ground clearance is outstanding, and it can readily handle a gravel road with deep ruts and bumps. Excellent all-weather traction.
However, the Toyota is better able to go even further into the wilderness. It has better wheel articulation, which means it can climb over large rocks with all four wheels on the ground. More traction means all four wheels are on the ground. The optional four-wheel-drive system on the 4Runner is likewise more suited to getting the power down on really tough terrain.
|Points of comparison||Subaru Outback||Toyota 4Runner|
|Engine||2.5L Flat 4 Gas||4.0L V6 Gas|
|Transmission||Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)||5-Speed Automatic|
|Drivetrain||All-Wheel Drive||Four-Wheel Drive|
|Horsepower||182 hp @ 5800 rpm||270 hp @ 5600 rpm|
|Torque||176 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm||278 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm|
|Maximum towing capacity||2,700 lbs||5,000 lbs|
|Fuel economy||City: 26 MPG
Hwy: 33 MPG
|City: 16 MPG
Hwy: 19 MPG
|Fuel tank capacity||18.5 gallons||23 gallons|
|Seating capacity||5 seater||5 seater|
|Starting price||$27, 645||$49, 765|
So is Toyota 4Runner a Good SUV?
The Toyota 4Runner is a decent SUV, but it has far too many problems to be considered reasonable in most areas. Most other midsize SUVs can’t match Toyota’s off-road ability, thanks to the V6 engine’s ample power. Inside, there are two rows of comfortable seats and plenty of cargo capacity.
The infotainment system is straightforward to use. The 4Runner’s off-road performance is excellent, but it suffers on the road.
Every bump and pothole will be felt, and the abundance of body roll prevents any form of spirited driving on curving roads. Because of its old style and uninteresting cabin materials, the 4Runner looks and feels a step behind practically every competition on the inside.
- Toyota has yet to expose the pricing for the 2022 4Runner, but it will most likely be revealed before the car goes on sale at the end of this summer. We can still recommend the TRD Off-Road model because we predict only a slight increase in the price of each trim. It isn’t as capable off-road as the raised TRD Pro, but it is a better bargain because of its lower cost. The TRD Off-Road gets pieces of equipment that satisfy its name and primary four-wheel drive and some TRD-specific exterior and interior components. An electrically locking rear differential is included for maximum traction in slick or muddy weather.
- A 270-hp 4.0-litre V-6 engine with five-speed automatic transmission power every 4Runner. The antiquated power plant, available with rear-wheel drive and either full-time or part-time four-wheel-drive systems, gives a mediocre performance, needing 7.7 seconds to reach 60 mph in the latest version we tested. The automatic’s sluggish reflexes don’t help the engine’s erratic behavior, and downshift frequently necessitates forceful right-foot inputs to propel the 4Runner forward. However, the Toyota feels more composed than the more ungainly Wrangler on the road. The SUV’s ample ground clearance and body-on-frame design were backed by a soft suspension that absorbed a variety of terrain during our time behind the wheel of the Venture model.
- The 4Runner’s powertrain choices betray their age at the pump, with each model rated at 16 mpg mileage in the cities and 19 mpg mileage on the highway. The V-6-powered Wrangler gets 19 mpg in the city and 24 on the interstate. The most recent 4Runner we tested returned 22 mpg on our 75-mph highway fuel-economy route, part of our rigorous testing procedure.
- A touchscreen infotainment system is standard on every 4Runner. Physical buttons and rotational volume and tuning knobs are included in the user interface. Android Auto, Apple Play, and a subscription-basis Wi-Fi hotspot are standard features. Upgrades include a navigation system with built-in navigation and a 15-speaker JBL audio system.
How good is the Subaru outback?
- We believe the Premium model offers the best value for money in terms of standard and extra features. While the original 182-hp four-cylinder engine is the only option, upgrading to the turbocharged 260-hp engine costs at least $6000. In light of what consumers will be searching for in a car, we don’t believe the turbo’s better acceleration and 800 pounds of additional towing capacity are worth the money.
- An 11.6-inch touchscreen, a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, heated front seats, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, extra USB ports, and accessories not available on the base model come standard on the Outback Premium. We’d go for the less expensive package, including blind-spot monitoring, a hands-free power liftgate, and passive entry with a push-button start.
- According to the EPA, the regular Outback is expected to get 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. The turbocharged variant has a considerable drop in efficiency, with city and highway ratings of 23 and 30 mpg, respectively. The Legacy, on the other hand, features more fuel-efficient engines.
- According to estimations, the standard engine is estimated to get 27/35 mpg city/highway, while the turbocharged variant will do 24/32 mpg city/highway. On our 200-mile real-world highway-fuel-economy trip, we tested an Outback with each of these engines, and they all returned the same 28 mpg. In the same test, the sedan with the turbocharged four-cylinder earned 34 mpg.
Toyota 4Runner vs Subaru outback: which one do we recommend
According to a survey of conversations with millions of customers worldwide, Toyotas are preferred by the majority of drivers. Toyota vehicles have a more pleasant performance and a longer-lasting engine.
Others, however, stated that Subarus endure longer and are more useful in the rain or snow. Choosing between a Subaru and a Toyota is primarily a matter of personal preference.
Both automakers offer cars with enjoyable powertrains, standard equipment, and excellent warranties. Even a Toyota or Subaru will not reach its full potential without adequate maintenance. Always have your vehicle serviced regularly and fix any problems as soon as possible.
Known ways, the Subaru Outback and the Toyota 4Runner are both versatile, spacious, and user-friendly. The Subaru triumphs when it comes to comfort, technology, and upmarket interior fittings.
While the Toyota triumphs in off-roading, towing, and cargo space, the decision between these two will be based on your everyday driving priorities and how far you wish to venture off the main route on weekends.