SAFETY

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Safety

The Highlander Platinum has a standard Bird's Eye View Camera to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn't help with obstacles to the sides.

The Highlander's driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Outback doesn't offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the Highlander and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Toyota Highlander is safer than the Subaru Outback:

 

Highlander

Outback

 

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.4 inches

.6 inches

Neck Compression

55 lbs.

88 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Toyota Highlander is safer than the Subaru Outback:

 

Highlander

Outback

 

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

54

69

Abdominal Force

88 G's

192 G's

 

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

HIC

111

223

Spine Acceleration

41 G's

51 G's

Hip Force

440 lbs.

527 lbs.

 

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

16 inches

17 inches

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

  WARRANTY

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Warranty

Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn't pay scheduled maintenance for the Outback.

There are almost 2 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander's warranty.

  RELIABILITY

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it's being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Highlander's reliability 37 points higher than the Outback.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the Highlander second among midsize SUVs in their 2017 Initial Quality Study. The Outback isn't in the top three.

J.D. Power and Associates' 2017 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 13th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 18 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates' 2016 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota fourth in reliability, above the industry average. With 53 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 23rd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports' April 2017 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota second in reliability. Subaru is ranked 11th.

  ENGINE

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Engine

The Highlander's standard 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 10 more horsepower (185 vs. 175) and 10 lbs.-ft. more torque (184 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i's standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The Highlander's optional 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 39 more horsepower (295 vs. 256) and 16 lbs.-ft. more torque (263 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R's standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the Toyota Highlander V6 is faster than the Outback 3.6R:

 

Highlander

Outback

Zero to 60 MPH

7.2 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.5 sec

15.7 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

92.6 MPH

91.2 MPH

  FUEL ECONOMY AND RANGE

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Fuel Economy

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Highlander LE Plus/XLE/Limited/Platinum's engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn't accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Outback doesn't offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

  BRAKES AND STOPPING

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the Highlander's brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

 

Highlander

Outback

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.8 inches

The Highlander stops much shorter than the Outback:

 

Highlander

Outback

Source

60 to 0 MPH

112 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

144 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

  TIRES AND WHEELS

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Wheels and Tires

For better traction, the Highlander has larger tires than the Outback (245/60R18 vs. 225/65R17).

The Highlander's standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium's standard 65 series tires. The Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum's tires have a lower 55 series profile than the Outback Limited/Touring's 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Highlander has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The Highlander SE/Limited/Platinum's 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.

  SUSPENSION AND HANDLING

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Highlander's wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer than on the Outback (109.8 inches vs. 108.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Highlander is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

The Highlander's front to rear weight distribution is more even (53% to 47%) than the Outback's (56.2% to 43.8%). This gives the Highlander more stable handling and braking.

The Highlander AWD handles at .80 G's, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G's of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The Highlander SE AWD executes Motor Trend's "Figure Eight" maneuver quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (27.6 seconds @ .62 average G's vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G's).

  PASSENGER SPACE

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Passenger Space

The Highlander has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Outback can only carry 5.

The Highlander has 36.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Outback (144.9 vs. 108.1).

The Highlander has 1.3 inches more front legroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, 1.2 inches more front shoulder room, 1 inch more rear headroom, .3 inches more rear legroom, 2.1 inches more rear hip room and 2.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Outback.

  CARGO CAPACITY

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Cargo Capacity

The Highlander's cargo area provides more volume than the Outback.

 

Highlander

Outback

Third Seat Folded

42.3 cubic feet

n/a

Third Seat Removed

n/a

35.5 cubic feet

Second Seat Folded

83.7 cubic feet

73.3 cubic feet

The Highlander's cargo area is larger than the Outback's in almost every dimension:

 

Highlander

Outback

Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)

17.5"/43"/80"

n.a./41.8"/77.7"

Max Width

56"

50.5"

Min Width

45.6"

42"

Height

32.6"

33"

The Highlander's optional rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The Outback's rear cargo window doesn't open.

  PAYLOAD & TOWING

2018 Highlander Servicing Ease

Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Outback is limited to 2700 pounds. The Highlander offers up to a 5000 lbs. towing capacity.

  ERGONOMICS

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Ergonomics

The Highlander's standard front power windows open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Outback's standard passenger windows don't open or close automatically. The Highlander Limited/Platinum's front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches.

The Highlander Platinum's standard wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Outback's manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Highlander's standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the Highlander Limited/Platinum keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in Summer. The Outback doesn't offer air-conditioned seats.

Both the Highlander and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Highlander has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outback Base/Premium doesn't offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The Highlander XLE/SE/Limited/Platinum has a 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Outback doesn't offer a house-current electrical outlet.

  ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Econimic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Highlander is less expensive to operate than the Outback because it costs $522 less to do the manufacturer's suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the Highlander than the Outback, including $19 less for front brake pads and $59 less for a starter.

  RECOMMENDATIONS

Subaru Outback and Toyota Highlander Recommendations

The Toyota Highlander has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

Highlander

Outback

Consumer Reports® Recommends

Top Pick

TRUE

Car Book "Best Bet"

TRUE

TRUE

The Toyota Highlander outsold the Subaru Outback by 13% during the 2017 model year.


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