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Toyota 4Runner vs Subaru Outback

Two black cars in one picture under the sunset view.

SUV shopping offers many options today, but perhaps no class proves more competitive than that of the midsized SUV. Just how similar are the two popular options of the Toyota 4Runner and Subaru Outback? Let’s compare these two midsized SUVs to find out where each excels and where each fails.

What is the Toyota 4Runner?

A white toyota car on a trip with a kayak on top of it.

The Toyota 4Runner offers drivers a midsized SUV that goes off-road easily. You can seat five in this ultra-configurable SUV that offers seven trim levels.

Starting with a sticker price of $37,605, this peppy SUV provides the power to tow a boat and the cargo space inside to pack for a one-week family vacation. It earns mediocre gas mileage though – 16 miles per gallon in the city and 19 miles per gallon on the highway.

While some SUVs feature underpowered engines to save money, Toyota provides a 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. That gives this midsized SUV the strength to haul 5,000 pounds.

You won’t win any drag races with this SUV, but the 4Runner can manage to go from 0 to 60 in 7.3 seconds. Choose from the following trims:

  • SR5,
  • Trail Special Edition,
  • TRD Sport,
  • SR5 Premium,
  • TRD Off Road,
  • TRD Off Road Premium,
  • Limited,
  • TRD Pro.

It fairs well in vehicle reviews, but US News and World Reports states that its base model doesn’t provide the comfort or upscale design of its competitors. It does, however, offer an intuitive infotainment system.

The venerable auto manufacturer produced an SUV that earns high safety ratings and provides a reliable ride. Toyota designed the 4Runner for off-roading enthusiasts who don’t care about fancy interiors. Although it picked up dependable sales figures, it didn’t update the interior, so the 4Runner seems a bit more basic than today’s SUV owners expect.

Related: Toyota 4Runner vs Rav4 | Toyota 4Runner vs Toyota Land Cruiser

What is the Subaru Outback?

A black subaru outback near at the lake.

The Subaru Outback offers drivers a midsized SUV that can go off-road, but the manufacturer initially designed it for commuting and road trips. You can also seat five in this ultra-configurable SUV that offers eight trim levels.

Starting with a sticker price of $27,145, this ideal commuter SUV offers less towing capacity, but much better fuel efficiency. The roomy cargo space area can hold tons of luggage, or you can fold down a rear seat to stow full-sized adult road or mountain bikes. Enjoy filling up at the pump less frequently since the Outback earns superb gas mileage, especially for an SUV – 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 miles per gallon on the highway.

That’s sedan-type fuel efficiency from a roomy SUV.

The Outback offers a smaller engine than the Toyota, but you still get the same pep. Its 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine produces 182 horsepower and 176 lb-ft of torque. It accelerates from 0 to 60 in 7.5 seconds. That gives this midsized SUV the strength to haul 2,700 pounds.

You can configure the Outback in essentially any way you like. Subaru offers a cornucopia of trim levels, including:

  • Outback,
  • Premium,
  • Limited,
  • Onyx Edition XT,
  • Wilderness,
  • Touring,
  • Limited XT,
  • Touring XT.

Vehicle reviews sing its praises, with the venerated Car and Driver awarding it a 9 out of 10 rating. Its only points of dislike include the underpowered engine, the vehicle’s handling, and its dull transmission. Otherwise, Car and Driver says it provides better ground clearance than any in its class, a lifted suspension, an array of tech features, and plenty of cargo space.

Safety-minded Subaru produced its safest model of Outback in 2022. Its all-wheel-drive combined with mud and snow modes makes this SUV an ideal choice for those who reside in areas with inclement climates. The SUV provides a comfortable ride with a well-appointed interior.

Designed for those with an active lifestyle who remain on the go, the Outback offers a competitive price on a midsized SUV that can go almost anywhere.

Related: Subaru Outback vs Ford Explorer | Subaru Outback vs Hyundai Santa Fe

Toyota 4Runner vs Subaru Outback

A black shining subaru outback moving on street.

Which midsized SUV works best for you? The Subaru starts at $10,000 less than the Toyota, so if your budget controls your choice, choose the Subaru.

If you need an off-road vehicle that can handle any terrain, the 4Runner works better. It doesn’t quite have the ground clearance of the Subaru though. It does offer more power and handling off-road.

The Subaru makes the better choice if you commute. You’ll enjoy less time at the gas pump driving it.

The two SUVs rank nearly equal in cargo space. If you need to pack a lot for a road trip, you can fit in the suitcases and all five family members. With the Subaru, though, you can add a roof rack that makes adding bikes or kayaks easy.