2018 Subaru Outback

Starting Price: $26,810 | Price Yours

Above Average: SUV usefulness in a wagon body, brisk acceleration with optional flat-six engine, standard all-wheel drive

Below Average: Some CVT wheezing, no hybrid option

Consensus: Capable on pavement or gravel, with a loyal following


2018 Toyota RAV4

Starting Price: $25,455 | Price Yours

Above Average: Toyota’s world-class hybrid system, 24 years of continuous development, exceptional quality record

Below Average: So-so standard engine fuel economy, performance

Consensus: Driving excitement isn’t a strong suit, but the RAV4 continues to be tops in terms of quality and comfort


The Outback made its debut as a variation of the Legacy wagon, and quickly achieved an identity—and following—of its own. When Subaru discontinued the Legacy wagon in 2010, the Outback kept rolling, and has been the company’s U.S. bestseller in 15 of the last 22 years, including 2017. Although 8.7 inches of static ground clearance make the Outback handier than many crossover SUVs, it continues to be true to its wagon roots. As such, it straddles the frontier between compact and midsize CUVs, giving it a distinctive aesthetic to go with its all-around usefulness. There’s no category ambiguity about the RAV4, the compact crossover that established the compact crossover category in 1994, and a category it continues to dominate today. How dominant? In 2017, the RAV4 was the fourth bestselling vehicle in U.S., trailing only the full-size pickup trucks from Chevrolet, Ford, and Ram. The appeal of this segment leader continues to be the same—a bulletproof record of reliability, painstaking assembly, and a hybrid system that’s inspired many imitators since its 1997 introduction.

Subaru Outback Advantages

Station wagon style in a world of boxy crossovers, capable when the pavement ends

Toyota RAV4 Advantages

Comfortable and quiet, trouble-free track record, comprehensive list of standard driver-assist safety features. (Note: a major RAV4 redesign is planned for model year 2019.)


Both vehicles are based on front-drive passenger car architecture, both offer all-wheel drive

Final Recommendation

The RAV4 is typically Toyota in terms of quality, refinement, and reliability. There are competing vehicles that offer more performance, it continues to be the class gold standard. Roomy and capable on road or off, the Outback marches to its own beat, with a persona that’s unique in this class.

  2018 Subaru Outback 2018 Toyota RAV4
Popular Powertrains    
Engine 2.5-liter flat 4 2.5-liter I4
Horsepower 175 hp @ 5,800 rpm 175 hp @ 6,000 rpm
Torque 174 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm 172 lb-ft@ 4,200 rpm
Transmission CVT Automatic 6-spd
Fuel Economy 28 mpg (25 city, 31 hwy) 26 mpg (23 city, 30 hwy)
Also Available 256-hp 3.6-liter flat-6, CVT 194-hp gasoline-electric hybrid system
Warranty 3 years or 36,000 miles 3 years or 36,000 miles
NHTSA Overall Safety Rating 5 Stars 5 Stars
Max Seating Capacity 5 5
Wheelbase 108.9 inches 104.7 inches
Overall Length 189.6 inches 185.5 inches
Width 72.4 inches 72.6 inches
Height 66.1 inches 65.9 inches
Turning Diameter 38.7 feet 34.8 feet
Headroom, Front 40.9 inches 39.8 inches
Headroom, Rear 39.9 inches 38.9 inches
Legroom, Front 42.9 inches 42.6 inches
Legroom, Rear 38.1 inches 37.2 inches
Shoulder Room, Front 58.1 inches 57.3 inches
Shoulder Room, Rear 57.3 inches 55.4 inches
EPA Passenger Volume 108.3 cu. ft. 100.7 cu. ft.
EPA Cargo Volume 35.5 cu. ft. 38.4 cu. ft.
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