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Subaru Outback vs Ford Explorer

A picture of two different car model facing each other.

The Subaru Outback vs. Ford Explorer is a great comparison between two great cars on their own accord. Choosing between these two can be quite tricky; however, knowing what makes each special will ultimately help a person choose one. That’s why I did strenuous research between the two to ensure I know which one will suit my needs, and hopefully, it will help you too.

The Outback is a better all-rounded vehicle, giving back better fuel economy, higher ground clearance, and comes with all-wheel drive as a base model. The Explorer comparably does have a bigger engine, the third row of seats, making it a better choice as a family-sized SUV with off-road capabilities.

The Outback gives a big difference in its handling and feels on the road with its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive.  The 2020 Ford Explorer, however, comes in its standard model with a rear-wheel drive and costs $6000 more than the standard Outback.

Outback vs. Explorer

The inside view of a black ford explorer.

The Ford Explorer 2020 model moved away from its front-wheel-drive past, making it rear-wheel drive to improve its driving handling and fuel efficiency with a new frame to cater for bigger legroom space and cargo space. It’s reviewed to have uncommonly good balance and poise that comes with most midsize three-row SUVs on the market.

The Ford Explorer is comparable to the Ford Highlander in its safety features, making it not that interesting or unique. Thanks to the upgraded platform of the 2020 Ford Explorer, we see a better improvement in the size for that third row of seats. The improvement makes it much more comfortable than previous models to get to those seats, especially for adults.

The Ford Explorer is held back mostly by the high price of the standard model, which comes with the subpar quality of the interior; its competitors outperform that in its vehicle category. On top of that, its standard 300.0-hp, 2.3-liter 4 Cylinder Engine doesn’t make it the cheapest at fuel.

The Outback, over time, has gone through a lot of refinement, from a station wagon to becoming a mid-sized SUV that still is stylized in a wagon shape. The Outback drives like a sedan while having an SUV’s ground clearance that gives its passengers and driver a great eyes view. The design style makes the Outback a unique car on the road while staying true to the Subaru’s versatility and comfortability.

The Outback is perfect for those looking to go on adventurous trips while seeking something that won’t use too much fuel to be used for city life. It is all possible with the vehicle’s all-wheel drive and urban-looking design that won’t make you look like a camper.

Size Comparison

A dark color ford explorer with its front light on.

The Ford Explorer is definitely on the more plus size compared to the Outback. Its exterior dimensions are as follows:

  • Length = 198.8 inches
  • Height = 70.2 inches
  • Max width = 9 inches
  • Wheelbase = 119.1 inches
  • Ground Clearance = 8.2 inches

The Ford has a bigger body than the Outback gives it a total of 87.8 ft³ of cargo space up to its first row of seats. The Cargo space up till the second row of seats is 47.9 ft³, then the space with all the seats is 18.2 ft³ up till its third row of seats. That last number is tiny if you’re looking for a vehicle with a nice big space to put luggage in at the back without having to drop seats.

The Ford Explorers legroom is quite comfortable at 43 inches in the front, 39 inches for rear seats, and the back rows seats with a decent space but more preferable for children is 32.2 inches.

The Outback’s exterior dimensions:

  • Length = 191.3 inches
  • Height = 66.4 inches
  • Max width = 73 inches
  • Wheel base = 108.1 inches
  • Ground Clearnace = 8.7 inches

The Outback is a bit slimmer in its size, has 42.8 inches of legroom in the first row of seats and 39.5 inches of space in the second row of seats. The cargo space for the Outback is 32.5 cubic feet, and with the back row seats down, that number becomes 75.7 cubic feet of maximum cargo space.

The Outback has great legroom space, and on top of that, cargo space for its smaller body, especially cargo space behind those rear seats, is great for equipment and luggage. No need to drop those back seats to get more cargo space.

Engine Comparison

Front view of a white ford car parked.

The Ford Explorer comes with a 2.3 liter EcoBoost, four-cylinder engine that will give you roughly 300 horsepower and a combined MPG (miles per gallon) of 24. The Outback comes with various models with bigger engines, or even its hybrid engine that increases its fuel efficiency in total.

Even with its bigger engine, the Ford Explorer is inferior when it comes to the Subaru Outback’s towing capacity.  The Explorer is surprisingly only capable of pulling trailered loads of up to 2,000-lbs. Compared to the Subaru Outback that can tow a capacity of 2,700-lbs, which is standard in all different models of the Outback.

The Outback comes standard with its boxer 2.5L DOHC engine that can be upgraded to a turbocharged version that will give you 290 horsepower. The standard Outback has a combined MPG of 29 miles per gallon, making it the more conventional choice to save fuel.


An inside view of subaru outback wit its features.

The Outbacks baseline model comes with decent features, having a dual touch screen in the base trim, which can be upgraded to an 11inch screen in other models. However, there have been complaints about the interface being hard to get around.

The Outback comes with safety features like pre-collision throttle management; lane keeps assist and sway warning, pre-collision braking, and adaptive cruise control. All these features can’t be found in the base model of the Explorer. It makes the Outback a preferred choice in safety standards compared to its rivals.

The Explorer comes equipped with an 8-inch touch-screen that can be pumped up to a 10.1-inch screen that is vertically orientated. The Ford has slightly better interior quality and layout with a user interface that is easy to learn and make your way around.

Suppose you want to expand the safety features. In that case, you can get your hands on the Ford’s Co-Pilot360 package, which includes rear cross-traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, post-collision braking, forward collision warning, emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and more.


It comes down to taste and how much money you are willing to take out between the two cars. If you’re looking for something great for both city life and off-roading, then the Subaru will quench your thirst with its versatility and fuel efficiency.

On the other hand, if the size is a concern and you need that extra row of seats, then the Explorer won’t disappoint with a great quality ride and user-friendly design. It’s a great family vehicle that can be used in a variety of environments.