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2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Which Should You Buy?

What’s going on SUV Lovers? Sometimes brands will have multiple products that overlap in key ways, and that’s exactly what has long been happening with the popular Subaru Outback and Forester models. While they are very different in design, the overall function, sizing, and pricing are very similar.

So now that an all-new 2025 Forester has come out, does one of them have a clear advantage? Which adventurous Subaru CUV should you buy? Keep on reading to find out.

Pricing

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Pricing
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Pricing

So first off, let’s talk pricing for these two family SUVs. Starting with the most famous Subaru, we have the Outback limited trim with a total price of just under $40,000. Moving to the all-new Forester, you’ll find a very similar price point in the loaded touring trim level since it is considered the less premium product.

By the way, if you want to get the best prices from local dealerships and access to invoice pricing info for these two models or any vehicle, we have a tool on our website to do just that.

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It’s a great tool for shopping, so make sure you check out the link in the description to learn more.

Objective Comparisons

If you’re new to our comparisons, we do them in an objective way. We’ve done our best to award the points throughout in major and minor categories, and towards the end, we will go over a new thing we’re adding to our comparisons: reliability and resell value information. Let’s go ahead and get started.

Exterior Design

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Exterior Design
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Exterior Design

Beginning with the exteriors, you’ll see both models certainly have that signature Subaru look to them. The Outback recently received some updates that added more cladding to the front, and the all-new Forester just came out with a new look that is more of a deviation from the last couple of generations.

It has a wider grill up front that is finished in a bold gloss black. Now, we won’t be awarding points based on design preferences, but be aware that both of them do have adaptive LED headlights with different designs as well as fog lights. They both also have 8.7 inches of ground clearance.

Size and Wheels

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Size and Wheels
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Size and Wheels

Continuing to the sides, the Forester gains about an inch of length for the all-new generation, which narrows the gap between them somewhat.

We’ll talk about how that translates to interior space and cargo capacity later on. For wheels, you’ll find large contrast 19-inch alloys on the Forester compared to the Outback, which maxes out at 18 inches in its lineup.

Rear Features

Next up, we have the rears. Looking at the features, they are essentially the same even though the Forester definitely has the boxier design.

Spoilers punctuate the top, and if you want a premium exposed exhaust outlet, only Forester has that. For those who need to do some towing, the Outback will be the better pick with a 2700 lb rating versus 1500 lb.

Mirrors and Safety

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Mirrors and Safety
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Mirrors and Safety

Now, moving on to some of the individual features, you’ll find nice mirrors on both. They have blind spot monitoring, heating, and LED turn signals.

But family SUVs need to be safe, and one of the really nice things about these two is that all four of your major active safety features are included standard with Subaru’s eyesight system. Their warranties are also the same, obviously, as well.

Interior Changes

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Interior Changes
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Interior Changes

But Subaru has made some big changes on the inside of the Forester, so let’s see how that stacks up. But first, if you’re new here, we’re brothers, and we’ve been reviewing cars since we were 12 and 16.

We may be young, but we love cars, and we’d love for you to subscribe to be a part of our Car Confections family. Let’s learn a lot and have some fun with all the latest cars.

Smart Entry and Cabins

Approaching both SUVs, they have smart entry systems with the same nice key fobs. Remote start is also available via the app. Both have sensors to unlock the doors, and after opening, you’re going to see spacious and surprisingly nice cabins. While these two do have some similarities, the seats are quite different.

They both have real leather; however, the Forester goes for a sportier edge with Alcantara suede accents. What you prefer is up to you, but know that you’ll get a full leather seat on the Outback.

Seat Adjustability

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Seat Adjustability
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Seat Adjustability

As far as seat adjustability, the Outback has a 12-way power adjusting seat with four-way lumbar support compared to the Forester’s 10-way seat with two-way lumbar support. Additionally, only the Outback has a manual thigh extension.

The Forester fights back, though, as it now includes seat ventilation for this touring model for 2025. The Outback limited only has heating, and both of them have two-person memory.

Material Quality

Now, once inside the cabins, let’s check out the major point category of material quality. While both are finished nicely, the more premium Outback takes the lead.

It features loads of leather across the door trim, dash, and where your knees rest, giving it a surprisingly premium feel. The Forester utilizes a more scratchy and durable material instead, so the Outback will take the materials point.

Gauge Cluster

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Gauge Cluster
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Gauge Cluster

So there have been some differences so far, but the gauge cluster won’t be one of them. They both feature the same 4.2-inch multi-function display and analog gauges across the lineup. Neither have the option of a head-up display or digital gauge cluster.

Moving back, both of them have heated leather-wrapped steering wheels along with rain-sensing wipers on the Forester.

Storage

Now it’s time to evaluate another major interior section: storage. This is a big deal for many families, and in this regard, we’ll call it a tie.

The Forester has the deeper center console and a flatter, more usable front storage pad. However, it’s only the Outback that includes a passenger storage shelf. Moving on, both have wireless phone chargers and keep traditional shifters.

Reverse and Climate Control

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Reverse and Climate Control
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Reverse and Climate Control

When in reverse, you’ll see a big difference between these two. Only the Forester is offering a 360° camera system, which is a new feature for 2025. For climate, both have dual-zone automatic setups with physical buttons for the main temperature adjustment.

For audio, both have upgraded Harmon Kardon audio systems. Let’s take a listen. Both have impressive sound quality for the money and are indistinguishable in this regard.

Technology

But let’s talk tech. People demand good tech nowadays, and since the Forester got a major overhaul this year, both of them now have the same large 11.6-inch display. That means they have the most up-to-date software with integrated navigation plus wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

As we wrap up the front of the cabins, both have auto-dimming rearview mirrors with HomeLink remotes, but only the Forester has the rear camera functionality as well. One of the other interesting differences is the moonroof situation.

The Forester has an oversized panoramic moonroof that opens wide compared to the standard size setup on the Outback.

Back Seats

Heading to the back seats, you might think the Outback will be substantially larger than the Forester given the exterior size advantage.

However, you’ll be surprised since legroom and headroom specs are nearly identical to each other at about 40 inches. You’ll also find the rear features are nearly identical as well. Both have nicely equipped vents, USB ports, and heated back seats.

Cargo Space

2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Cargo Space
2025 Subaru Forester vs. Outback: Cargo Space

How about cargo space, though? To get back there, both have power tailgates with hands-free ability, new to the Forester this year. Once they open up, you’ll find a large 17% advantage in the Outback behind the second row seats.

The Outback still pulls ahead with the seats folded, being about 9% larger as a maximum. Both models feature a spare tire, and they also include easy buttons to fold the second row without having to stretch.

On the Road

But this has certainly been a tight fight, so now let’s take this fight out to the streets and see how they compare. As you’ve seen already, these two have many similarities but also several differences. As tested today, both are rocking the same 2.5L boxer 4-cylinder making about 180 horsepower.

That, of course, means they have the same overall performance out on the road, which is decent for SUVs of this size.

Acceleration

Alright, so there is our acceleration up to 60 MPH with the 2025 Subaru Forester. Now, we talked about some powertrain specs and things like that in part one of this Forester review, but we do want to just remind you guys what we have on board. So this is going to continue on with a 2.5L boxer 4-cylinder engine.

Alright, so there we are accelerating up to about 60 MPH. I also want to take a second to acknowledge that Subaru is promising an upcoming hybrid model for the Forester, which is not available currently. Additionally, if you want more power, you can get that in the Outback XT with its turbocharged engine. For those choices, we’ll award them each a half point.

Transmissions

Moving on to transmissions, both are using CVTs paired to Subaru’s famous symmetrical all-wheel drive system as standard equipment.

This is going to be using a continuously variable transmission as all Subarus do. This also has received updates versus the previous generation. You’re going to be looking at eight simulated gear changes versus seven simulated gear changes.

Ride Quality

Now let’s talk about an important part of any SUV: the ride quality. In this area, both impress and have great ride quality and comfortable seats. I’ve always been very impressed with the ride quality. That, of course, continues for 2024. This Outback is incredibly comfortable.

I have no complaints whatsoever when it comes to the ride quality. The seats are incredible. It’s just a very good place to spend time for you and your family, so you’re going to be in a lot of comfort on your way to that off-road adventure.

Now let’s go ahead and talk about the ride quality for this all-new Forester. Now, in this department, I have been nothing but impressed for this all-new model.

The Forester always rode really nicely, and this all-new one very much feels like a Forester in that respect. However, there have been even some improvements on top of that.

One of the things that they said they changed is the seat to make it a little bit more comfortable, a little bit more supportive based on customer feedback. So far, I’m very impressed with the way the SE is performing.

Noise Levels

But that aside, how much noise penetrates the cabins? We get a sound level reading for every car we review here at Car Confections, and you can find that at carconfections.com.

Sound readings: we tested both within a half dB of each other despite the Forester being tested in Montana. 57.6 dB is our official Car Conf sound level reading. Looks like we’ve officially settled in at 57.1 dB.

Fuel Economy

Lastly, the fuel economy comes within spitting distance of one another. The Forester comes in at one MPG better, and like we already previously mentioned, it does have that upcoming hybrid model that should get even better fuel economy.

Price Difference

But we can’t forget about the price difference at the original purchase in this comparison. The Limited Outback actually costs a little less than the Forester.

According to our scale, for that $1,780 price difference, the Outback will get one point. Be aware, at the time of this comparison, this is a 2024 Outback. However, for 2025, Subaru will likely raise the price of the Outback to make it more than the Forester once again.

Recap

So that’s it for another sibling battle. Let’s go ahead and kind of recap here, though, for a second with some of the reasons why you might pick that as your personal winner. The Forester should be your personal winner if you’re looking for advanced technology, particularly the 360° camera.

If you’re looking for additional features for the same money, such as ventilated seats, and also if you like that more traditional SUV design as opposed to the more wagon-like design of the Outback.

Outback Advantages

Now on the flip side, the Outback should be your choice if you value the more premium cabin materials. The Outback does feel like a more premium experience overall. It also has better cargo capacity in both seat up and down configurations, and it does have an available XT powertrain if you want that turbocharged engine experience. That’s something not available on the Forester, and you still can’t get the hybrid Forester just yet.

Final Thoughts

So we want to know your thoughts down below. Which one of these two siblings are you taking? Are you taking the all-new Forester or the Subaru Outback? Let us know down below. And if you’re looking to buy either one of these SUVs, we would encourage you to go to carconfections.com for new quotes.

Now the reason you do that is because there is a tool on our website that will connect you with local car dealers in your area to get you the best price. It’s also going to give you access to invoice pricing information, which is a great tool for dealership negotiation.

If you’d like to take advantage of that, links are provided in our video description, and we also have a pinned comment at the top of this video.

And guys, that’s where we’re going to leave off on this comparison. If you are already a fan and subscriber, thank you so much for your continued support. And if you’re not already a part of our family, we would ask you to hit that subscribe button down below.

Now, the reason you do that is because we make a lot of car reviews that I’m sure you won’t want to miss out on, and we also have a lot of fun on this channel, so you won’t want to miss out on any of that. We’ll catch you next time as we sample more of the latest automotive delights.

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