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Subaru Outback vs Toyota 4Runner

This is a white Toyota 4Runner on a rough road up the mountain.

For some people, breaking away from city life is important, but having the right car to do so is even more. That’s why the Subaru Outback vs. Toyota 4Runner is two of the best on the market, but deciding between the two is hard. That’s why I researched in-depth to find out before I made a decision!

The Outback gives you the best of both worlds, with its AWD and SUV ground clearance to take you off-road while maintaining a remarkable fuel usage for the city. Whereas the Toyota 4Runner is designed for off-road use, you can drive it on the road, but your mpg would be terrible for city use.

The Outback is a great crossover vehicle that you can use daily for work commuting in the city and on the weekends on trails if you decide to go hiking/camping. The Toyota 4Runner has a massive ground clearance and powerful engine that is perfect for those tougher terrains. You will have no problem with this off-road-orientated SUV to get you anywhere.

Outback vs. 4Runner

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

The Outback has been redesigned over time to what we now know to be a mixture of a station wagon and SUV, labeling it a mid-sized SUV. The Outback drives like a sedan and has an SUV’s ground clearance that allows for a comfortably seated height over other cars. This design style makes the Outback a unique Subaru model, retaining its comfortability and versatility.

The Outback is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want something fuel-efficient for the city and can take you out of the city to make lifelong memories. Thanks to its all-wheel drive, it makes going off-road easy and enjoyable, giving the driver reassurance that his vehicle can take the tough terrain as it comes.

Thinking of going into that swampy water terrain, or perhaps scaling up a treacherous dune to see the view from above? Well, that is all possible with the Toyota 4Runner that can get you exactly where you want on tough and rugged terrain that most SUVs would find difficult or nearly impossible even to fathom going into.

Toyota, known for the brand’s exceptional SUV capabilities with four-wheel drive capabilities, decided to design something made for family orientated off-roading. The main goal is to bring comfortability with SUV seating and the finest off-road capabilities together.

However, comparing the 4Runner to other refined SUVs falls short in other areas other than off-roading. The handling and steering are chunky on the road, the big body with its more refined adventurous suspension leans when cornering. The SUV has a high climb in making it a bit of discomfort for short occupants.

Size Comparison

This is a black Toyota 4Runner on a desert landscape.

The Outback has a smaller body shape than the bigger 4Runner; the length of the Outback is 191.3 inches, width is 73 inches max excluding mirrors, total height is 66.4 inches, and wheelbase is 108.1 inches. The ground clearance for the Outback is smaller than the 4Runner’s, being 8.7 inches, which would still give you a highly comfortable ride, both on-road and off-road, for a station wagon-like car.

The Outback, smaller in size than the Toyota 4Runner, gives the Outback a smaller cabin with 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 Toyota 4 Runner has a big built body, its length is surprisingly similar to the Outbacks being 190.7 inches for the 2021 version, and the 2022 4Runner having an equal length of 191.3 inches. The max-width is 75.8 inches, excluding the mirrors, height is 72 inches, and wheelbase of 109.8 inches. The ground clearance is a massive 9.6 inches for 4Runner.

The 4Runner, with its wider body, has a slightly bigger hip room space for occupants than the Outback does. The front seats have a legroom space of 41.7 inches, the second row of seats will have 32.9 inches, a lot smaller than the Outbacks comfortable space for occupants. The cargo space is 47.2 cubic feet, and with the back row seats down, it is 89.7 cubic feet, which is bigger than the Outback can give.

Engine Specs

This is a close look at the Subaru Outback engine.

The Outback comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 182 horsepower. The turbocharged engine version of the higher trim Outback will give you 290 horsepower. The Outback has a 26 city/33 highway miles per gallon fuel efficiency, making it the more conventional choice to save fuel.  The Outback comes standard with an all-wheel drive train.

The 2021 4 Runner returns with the same old-school standard V6 4 liter, producing 270-horsepower with a five-speed automatic transmission.  The 4Runner comes standard with a two-wheel drive that can be upgraded in the higher trims to a four-wheel-drive system. The 4Runners big engine sips away at your 23-gallon fuel tank, giving you 16 city/19 highway miles per gallon, which isn’t that fuel-efficient for a city lifestyle.

The 4Runner comes only with one engine option but different drive wheel options, such as two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. In higher trims, you can get four-wheel drive options that are integrated for Off-Road functions.


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

The 4Runner comes at its base trim with a 6.1-inch central console; the infotainment system has been praised for ease of use, unlike the Outback that has been critiqued to be complicated. The Subaru comes with a 6.5-inch central console that is replaced in the higher trims to an 8inch.

The 4 Runner can be expected to have a business-like interior that takes after its more rigid design. The Outback can be seen with an economical to the luxurious interior, especially in the higher trim levels, giving you the feeling of being inside a limo. Leather upholstery comes standard for both models in the limited trims and higher.

The Subaru has better safety ratings and features than the 4runner have, making the Outback a better choice if safety is a concern.


A black Toyota 4Runner on a rocky dirt mountain path.

The Outback is the better choice if you’re looking for a car that is the perfect combination between the city and the outdoors. It’s versatile, comfortable, luxurious, spacious, and fuel-efficient. If you’re looking for a well-built off-road vehicle right out of the box, then the 4Runner is your choice, especially if you will use it for what it was designed for.

On top of that, the Outback is the more affordable choice between the two, and if your looking for a more powerful engine, the Outback will provide. Choosing higher trims of the Outback still gets you more before you even get to the standard price for a 4Runner.


The Car Connection: Subaru Outback vs. Toyota 4Runner

Motor Biscuit: How Does the Toyota 4Runner Stack up Against the Subaru Outback

Consumer Reports: Toyota 4Runner

Autobytel: Subaru outback vs. Toyota 4Runner