Outback vs. Forester

billtbillt Member Posts: 3
edited March 2014 in Subaru
Opinions/experience appreciated-especialy if you have owned both!
After driving both, I still can't help thinking they are so similiar.I did not get a chance to do an extended highway drive and would love to hear comparisons on this parameter.
Is the Forester a little more noisy at speed?
Less smooth on the highway?
My first impression is it might be...as we typicaly make 3-5 hour high-speed runs to ski country, this could be a concern.
Look at the stats (base 4 cyl comparison only); interior room, leg/shoulder room, power, mpg...
It is hard for me to understand how Suby succesfuly markets both vehicles when they are SO alike?We are reseraching both of these for my Wife's next vehicle.
Thanx, Bill


  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    We own a Forester and a Legacy, which is close.

    Any how, the Forester has a shorter wheelbase and is a tad smaller, making it very nimble and an ideal urban car. It fits in tight spaces yet it has the wheel travel to absorb a pot hole that would eat a Honda Fit alive. You can go over those extended speed bumps at 40mph no problem.

    In my Miata (our 3rd car), if I go 40mph over the same bumps I'm airborne.

    Our Legacy has longer legs, i.e. a longer wheelbase, and it a tad more quiet. It has slightly more rear leg room, and a bigger cargo floor (but less height). Outback would be my pick for a highway/trip car.

    So, if you drive mostly city, think Forester. If you drive mostly highway, think Outback.

  • smittynycsmittynyc Member Posts: 289
    I just traded in an 04 Forester X for an 07 Legacy SE wagon (which is the same size and has the same content as the Outback basic, except with a moonroof, power driver's seat, 17" alloys, and the lower conventional suspension). I did this not because I was unhappy with the Forester, but because of the guaranteed trade-in program and the fact that the Forester did not have (and still does not have) side-curtain airbags in the backseat. We have a three-year-old who used to ride in the middle back seat of the Forester, but he's got a new baby brother or sister on the way, and they'll have to ride in outboard seats.

    I know the specs are very similar, but the Legacy/Outback feels a lot roomier than the numbers indicate. With my seat in the same position, there is at least 3-4" more leg room for the passenger sitting behind me than there was in the Forester. The back seat also feels appreciably wider (even though the Forester's back seat is actually wider according to specs), and there is considerably more "real world" carrying room in the cargo area.

    As far as driving characteristics go, yes, the Forester is a pretty noisy vehicle, especially at 65+ highway speeds. There's nothing under the hood to insulate you from engine noise, and there's plenty of wind noise on top of that. The OEM tires are also loud. It didn't bother me at all, but then again, noise isn't a pet peeve of mine. I think if it's a deal-breaker, you should insist to your salesperson that you get to go for a quick spin on a highway.

    juice is absolutely correct in that the Forester is incredibly nimble, almost like it's on rails. The Legacy/Outback has a much more refined ride and is still a capable handler with less body roll, but you can feel the back end dragging a bit when you toss it into a curve.

    I would guess the Forester will be a skosh quicker than the Outback (my Legacy is slightly peppier than my Forester was, but the 07 Forester has more power than the 04 did). The Legacy brakes a little more crisply than my Forester (the 04 had rear drums, not sure if that's still the case for the base Forester).

    Other random observations -- the headlights/foglights on the Legacy are considerably brighter than they were on my Forester (even when new). Note that the base Outback comes with only roof rails; the Forester gives you the crossbars (and a cargo cover). The Outback also has an engine immobilizer (chipped key), and it has a better stereo than the Forester (although neither are anything to write home about).

    To sum up -- the Legacy/Outback feel more luxurious, have a little more space for humans on the inside, and feel more refined overall. The Forester handles better and is greater than the sum of its parts when it comes to driving fun -- it has a lot of soul and character. There is also a terrific rebate on 07 base Foresters right now -- $1500 cash back (there's a $750 rebate for Outbacks, too).

    I don't think you could go wrong with either one, but if noise is your personal bugaboo, buy the Outback.
  • billtbillt Member Posts: 3
    Good point on the side curtain air-bags. We have a little one also. Even though both vehicle have excellent safety ratings, the side curtains could be a deal breaker for my wife. I agree, the OB seems a little more refined in the ride...
  • mariahdcmariahdc Member Posts: 3
    We're about to purchase a 2007 Outback. We also ruled out the Forester because we have a small child who will sit in the back and we really wanted side curtain airbags back there...
  • radar1radar1 Member Posts: 25
    We went in last week to check out the Forester. We saw the Outback, then drove both on the highway for comparison, and since most of our driving is long distance touring, selected the Outback. It seemed slightly more refined and smooth on the highway, and the cargo area behind the rear seat is longer and wider (although shorter) than the Forester.
    We ended up buying the Outback.
    If most of your driving is in the city, the Forester would be ideal, but I think the Outback is better for long distance touring.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    The new one is coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled. It'll make the official debut at NAIAS and should hit dealer by March.

    I think they'll add a nice dose of refinement over the old one.
  • jefty_jeffjefty_jeff Member Posts: 6
    This is a less obvious difference, but Outback's trunk floor is about a foot longer than that of the Forester.
    (Although Forester's hatch is more vertical, allowing more room near the ceiling)

    Cargo floor lengths:

    Outback: 43"/73" (rear seats up / folded)
    Forester: 31"/62"

    I think that cargo volumes specified in liters of cubic feet are pretty useless. What people need to know is how long and how wide the trunk it.

    I like to carry my bike in the trunk of my current Legacy, and it fits no problem with the rear seat backs folded. With 11 inches less room in the Forester I'm not sure that would work.
    With a Legacy I can put several bikes in, upside-down side-by-side, with front wheels taken off. It's very convenient and safer than having the bike on the outside of the car.

    So I'm planning on buying an Outback next.

    Here's a couple of links I found with detailed specifications (such as the above measurements) for both:
  • radar1radar1 Member Posts: 25
    Those links you show give a lot of information, thanks.
    The longer/wider cargo area was one of the reasons we chose the Outback over the Forester. I'd rather be able to pack low than stack items, so the Outback will handle more unstacked suitcases than the Forester.
    We've only had ours a month and love it so far! Don't even have a hint of the "buyers remorse" I usually get right after buying a car, where I wonder if I should have gotten something else. The outback met or exceeded all our requirements, and I'm happy that the fuel mileage is even better than expected.
    The insurance company must be impressed with the car too; they lowered my premiums to less than what I was paying for my 4 year old Focus!
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Some how the numbers don't tell the whole story, though.

    We had a 98 Forester and still have an 02 Legacy.

    In the Legacy, the seats seem to lean in towards the cargo area more. The hatch also intrudes on the space.

    I should go measure, since we still have it, the space from the back of the headrest to the window. It's really not nearly as long as the floor space. So you have a long, wide floor, but it's best for items that aren't very tall.

    The Forester seemed to be the opposite. Tall and square cargo shape meant you could really pile things in. It just felt like it had more space. I would stand luggage up and it would clear. Not so in the Leg.

    When we did airport runs for family and friends, we always used the Forester for cargo, the Legacy for the people.

    Let me try to find a pic of the stuff we could pile in our Forester...OK, all of this stuff went in the Forester, with 4 passengers and a dog!

    I also hauled this oversized dryer home in a Forester.
  • jp01innyjp01inny Member Posts: 2
    After weeks of looking, driving,and talking to other owners I bought an 05' outback (in 07) I chose it because of the leg room and more refined ride and handling. The forester feels peppy but the outback feels like a $30,000 car for $18.000. :) I saved on insurance with my Outback also; over a 5 year old Tracker! I must admit too that I took my baby in for scheduled services and was drooling over the 09' forester, much improved! But I want a bike this year... so no new car :(
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
This discussion has been closed.