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Subaru Outback vs Impreza

This is a red Subaru Impreza on display at a car show.

Choosing which Subaru suits your lifestyle can get a bit tricky, which could be when you’re discussing matters such as the Subaru Outback vs. Impreza. Knowing which is better will help you decide which one to get; that’s why I did a lot of research before deciding which to get between the two!

The Outback is great for people looking for a station wagon mixed with the capabilities of an SUV. The Outback outperforms the Impreza in almost every category; the Impreza is practically made for someone that wants to commute in the city with a small four-wheel-drive vehicle that’s comfortable.

You might be wondering why the Outback is so much better than the Impreza; the Impreza is too plain. The Impreza being smaller, closer to the ground makes it more suited for the city life, unlike its sister models that are made for both on and off-road.

Outback vs. Impreza

This is a white Subaru Outback at a car show.

Subaru is well known for their great crossover SUVs with an all-wheel-drive base, giving urban drivers the possibility of going off-road for a great adventure. That’s the case with the Impreza that gave birth to the renowned Subaru WRX models that were Impreza’s with high-performance off-road kits added onto them that comped in the World Rally Championships where they won on numerous occasions.

The Impreza is focused on a sedan-styled vehicle that is suited for looking something smaller and compact sized, that can take them from a to b without being a concern of fuel mileage. The Impreza is a great affordable vehicle with decent fuel efficiency and basic features.

The Outback is Subaru’s treasure, as it is the companies’ best-selling model to date. The Outback is categorized as an SUV; however, it takes after a station wagon’s more designed aspect. The Outback looks rugged and ready to go off-road with its chunky roof rack and blacked-out front trim.

The Outback is the biggest of the two Subaru’s in width, length, and height wise. The wheelbase is also larger, making the Outback drive a bit more comfortably than the Impreza as the wheels have a larger area, reducing the vibrations and bumps picked up on the road.

The Outback is also the pricier option, costing you almost $7000 more for the standard versions between the two. The Impreza comes with a smaller engine than the Outback; one would expect better fuel usage. However, it’s the opposite; it’s a bit more thirsty compared to the bigger engine Outback.

Size Comparison

This is a white Subaru Impreza on display at a car show.

If you’re thinking of going off-road, you will need a car that has at least a safe ground clearance to do so. That’s why the Outback is perfect for such occasions, having a ground clearance of 8.7 inches, which means those big rocks won’t be a problem at all, or even driving in thick snow. Whereas for the Impreza, not the same can be said, with its 5.1-inch clearance.

The station wagon SUV Outback is slightly bigger than the Impreza’s; it is 73 inches wide, 191.3 inches long, and 66.1 inches high, making it still applicable for small spaces to squeeze through in the city. The Impreza’s dimensions are 70 inches wide, 182.1 inches long, and 57.3 high.

Both choices can seat five people, with the Outback having a passenger volume of 99.8 cubic feet and the Outback with 108.1 cubic feet of passenger volume. A difference that only matters if you’re looking for something that gives your passengers a nice comfortable space to be in.

Surprisingly the Impreza does have more front-seat legroom space than the Outback; the Impreza’s front driver and passenger will enjoy ample space of 43.1 inches legroom space. Whereas the Outback, not that far off, has 42.9 inches of front legroom space. The Outback ensures the back passengers will enjoy a 38.1 inch of leg space, but the Impreza has 36.5 inches.

The cargo space is where the Outback, with its long body, shines, giving a usable 32.5 cu-ft of space in the trunk to use. The Impreza has a trunk volume of 12.3 cu-ft, which is tiny compared to the Outback, even smaller than Subaru Legacy’s cargo volume. So if you’re a person that drives light, then you don’t have to be concerned, but if you need that space, the Outback has got you covered.

Engine Specs

This is a close look at the Subaru Outback engine.

The Outback comes with two engine options. The first is the standard engine, a naturally aspirated 2.5- liter four-cylinder boxer engine that creates 182 horsepower and 176 pound-foot of torque. The second option is a turbocharged engine which you will have to pay more at the higher levels of the Outback.

The Impreza comes with just one engine choice: a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated boxer engine that makes 152 horsepower. The engine size is fine for a sedan or hatchback, but the all-wheel-drive system negatively influences the Impreza. The weight of the all-drive system makes it a burden for the Impreza rather than a helpful feature that can be used properly.

The Outback, with its standard engine, performs better, being capable of giving better fuel efficiency than the Impreza.  The Outback does 26 mpg around town and 33 mpg on the highway; the Impreza does 23 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Pros Of Both Cars

This is a close look at the interior front seats and dashboard of the Subaru outback.

The Pros of the Subaru Impreza:

  • Great front seating legroom space.
  • An available manual transmission.
  • Sporty steering due to the smaller wheelbase.
  • A quiet ride compared to other SUVs.

The Pros of the Subaru Outback:

  • Fuel efficient for its size.
  • Ample ground clearance is perfect for off-road usage.
  • Ample cargo space and comfortable room for passengers.
  • Powerful engine.


This is a red Subaru Impreza at a grassy dirt road.

The Outback is honestly the better option between the two, giving a lot more car for value than the Impreza. The Impreza is the more affordable option to get a taste at what Subaru has to offer in its line ups, but if you could take out $7000 more, then the Outback is something to go for even if it’s a base model, it will give you a lot more than the Impreza.

The Impreza isn’t up to the task for those off-road trips that you would like to experience, as that ground clearance will have to be kept in mind. However, if you’re looking for that off-road fun, then the Outback is the better choice. Unless, of course, you convert your Impreza into a high-performance car like the WRX models.


US News: Compare 2019 Subaru Impreza vs. 2019 Subaru Legacy vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

Cars Guide: Subaru Outback