Subaru Outback vs. Forester vs. Ascent – Which SUV is Right for You?

In a world filled with endless roads and boundless possibilities, the decision to embark on new adventures requires a reliable companion by your side. Enter the Subaru Outback vs. Forester vs. Ascent, three formidable SUVs vying for the title of your ultimate exploration partner. Whether you seek the allure of rugged athleticism or the nimble versatility of urban exploration, join me on a journey to uncover which Subaru SUV is destined to be your perfect match.

Deciding which SUV is better can be challenging, especially when it comes to Ascent vs. Forester vs. Outback. Although they have some similar specifications, you need to consider all other differences, like price and indoor and cargo capacity.

Subaru Is a Popular Japanese Car Brand Known for Producing SUVs

Subaru, a legendary name in the automotive world, has crafted a legacy rooted in passion, performance, and unwavering adventure resulting in having some of the best import cars. With a steadfast commitment to engineering vehicles that can conquer both the open road and the unbeaten path, Subaru has established itself as a true pioneer in the realm of SUVs.

Embodying the spirit of exploration and outdoor freedom, Subaru’s SUV lineup, including the iconic Outback and versatile Forester, encapsulates the brand’s core values of durability, safety, and all-weather capability. Of course, comparing modern and classic cars, the second one surely should be

Are Subaru SUVs Reliable?

When it comes to reliability, Subaru SUVs have built a rock-solid reputation, and comparing classic and modern cars, you should always choose the second ones. For years, car manufacturers like Subaru have demonstrated unwavering durability, making them a trusted choice for adventure seekers and families alike. Subaru’s commitment to quality craftsmanship and innovative engineering shines through in every aspect of its SUV lineup.

From the robust drivetrains and advanced safety features to the impeccable build quality, these vehicles are designed to withstand the tests of time and conquer various terrains with confidence. With accolades and awards for reliability backing their claim, Subaru SUVs offer peace of mind that allows drivers to focus on the exhilaration of the journey rather than worrying about unexpected hiccups along the way.

Subaru emblem on a black car
Subaru has an impeccable reputation in the automotive industry

Overview of Subaru Outback, Ascent, and Forester

The Subaru Outback retains all the sought-after qualities that have made it a beloved choice among drivers. That’s how the owners of this vehicle just can’t imagine living without a car. From the standard inclusion of all-wheel drive to its impressive resale values, safety features, spaciousness, practicality, and attractive pricing, this SUV continues to deliver on the factors that have fueled its popularity.

With its recent revamp, the 2023 Forester confidently continues its mission of delivering outstanding attributes – exceptional value, safety, and reliability. This winning formula has established the Forester as one of the top SUVs in its segment, resonating with drivers seeking a trustworthy and well-rounded transportation option.

Pros and Cons of Forester

Forester’s excellence is further recognized by its multiple consecutive wins of the KBB 5-Year Cost to Own Award, solidifying its reputation as a standout performer in terms of long-term ownership costs. In essence, the 2023 Forester seamlessly upholds its legacy of providing secure and dependable transportation while offering remarkable value to its owners.

This being said, let’s check some other pros and cons also in the table below:

Spacious cabinJust decent power delivery and acceleration
Competitive Pricing
Top-notch safety scores

Pros and Cons of Outback

While the 2023 mid-generation revamp introduces visual updates, Subaru understands that its customers prioritize more than appearance, ensuring that the changes won’t drive away potential buyers. Rest assured, the essence of what makes the Outback a dependable and appealing choice remains intact, beckoning drivers to embrace its enduring charm. Let’s check some of the pros and cons of this model.

Highly practicalNot as smooth an engine stop and restart function as it could be
Strong resale value
Updated EyeSight safety feature

Pros and Cons of Ascent

The Subaru Ascent, as a newer addition to Subaru’s lineup, carries forward the brand’s legacy of safety, all-wheel drive standard, and family-oriented design. It distinguishes itself as a vehicle that doesn’t just meet the needs of large families but exceeds them with its thoughtful features and robust capabilities. With the introduction of the latest model, the Ascent redefines expectations for family SUVs, offering an expansive interior and the reliability Subaru is known for.

Spacious Interior for Large FamiliesFuel Efficiency Could Be Better
Enhanced Safety FeaturesInfotainment System Complexity
Powerful Performance

Safety Is Guaranteed at Every Turn With All Models

The Outback, Ascent, and Forester have received the highest safety rating of five stars in crash testing from the NHTSA, a testament to Subaru’s longstanding commitment to producing exceptionally safe vehicles. As expected, Subaru’s renowned dedication to safety shines through in the updated EyeSight suite of safety features, which now comes standard in the Outback, Ascent, and Forester. 

This comprehensive suite includes an array of advanced technologies such as automated high beams, collision warnings, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warnings. Moreover, the Outback offers additional safety options like blind-spot monitoring, featuring a third EyeSight camera on select higher-trim models. Subaru’s unwavering focus on safety ensures that drivers can confidently navigate the road, knowing that their well-being is at the forefront of every journey.

Subaru automobile dealership Sign against blue sky. Subaru is a japanese manufacturer of automobiles
Subaru pays special attention when it comes to safety

Forester Safety Features

From advanced infotainment systems to intuitive smartphone integration, prepare to be captivated by the latest tech offerings that transform your driving journey into an immersive and connected adventure.


With every new Forester SUV, Subaru equips a comprehensive set of driver assistance features under the collective name of EyeSight. This advanced suite includes essential capabilities such as forward-collision warning, which alerts the driver to potential collisions and provides automatic emergency braking if necessary. Additionally, adaptive cruise control with lane centering enhances the driving experience by maintaining a safe following distance and assisting with steering to keep the vehicle centered in its lane.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

The warning system in the Forester is designed to be activated when vehicles approach adjacent lanes or when reversing out of a parking space and encountering vehicles at right angles. In the Premium trim, one level above the base model, this system is available as an optional feature and is highly recommended.

It is included as part of a package that also offers evasive steering assistance, allowing the vehicle to make evasive maneuvers at speeds up to 50 mph. In the higher trims, all of these advanced safety features come as standard, ensuring enhanced protection and peace of mind during your driving experience.


This model employs state-of-the-art infrared sensors and facial recognition technology to detect signs of driver distraction or fatigue. As a proactive safety measure, audible warnings are initially issued to alert the driver.

However, in critical situations, this advanced system has the capability to bring the Forester to a complete stop if deemed necessary. It’s important to note that this cutting-edge feature is exclusively available in the top-tier Touring trim, which also offers the convenience of storing up to five driver profiles.

Outback Safety Features

After all, Subaru has never let down its audience, and this SUV is no exception. Here are the amazing safety features you’ll get to enjoy while driving Outback.


Subaru equips every new Outback SUV with a comprehensive set of standard driver assistance features. This advanced suite encompasses essential capabilities such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, which helps detect potential collisions and applies emergency braking if necessary. In addition, the Outback is equipped with lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assistance, providing alerts and assistance to keep the vehicle safely within its designated lane.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert

The 2023 Outback SUV offers the Lane Change Assist system as an optional feature at the Premium level, while it comes standard in the higher trims of the range. This innovative system serves as a safeguard, preventing drivers from making unsafe lane changes by providing timely alerts and assistance.

Notably, for this model year, automatic emergency steering is also included, further bolstering the Outback’s advanced safety features. With these enhancements, the 2023 Outback prioritizes driver and passenger safety, ensuring peace of mind and confidence on every journey.

LCD smart rearview mirror

The exclusive availability of this remarkable feature is limited to the Touring and Touring XT versions of the 2023 Outback SUV. Regrettably, it is not offered in other trims. Nonetheless, this feature stands out as an exciting addition, as it replaces the conventional rearview mirror with a high-resolution screen. This screen provides an unobstructed view of the area behind the vehicle, eliminating any potential hindrances caused by rear pillars, cargo, or passengers’ heads.

Ascent Safety Features

Embark on every journey with confidence, thanks to the Ascent’s array of cutting-edge safety technologies designed to protect you and your loved ones. The Subaru Ascent comes packed with features that not only enhance your driving experience but also ensure unparalleled safety on the road.

EyeSight Driver Assist Technology

Subaru’s commitment to safety is exemplified through its standard EyeSight Driver Assist Technology in the Ascent. This innovative suite encompasses a variety of features aimed at preventing accidents before they happen. It includes automatic pre-collision braking, which can apply full braking force in emergency situations, and adaptive cruise control, which adjusts your speed to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. Additionally, lane departure and sway warning with lane-keep assist help ensure that you stay in your lane, enhancing safety for everyone on the road.

Blind-Spot Detection with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

The Ascent enhances your awareness of the surroundings with its Blind-Spot Detection system, which warns you of vehicles in your blind spot during lane changes. Coupled with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, this feature aids in safely reversing out of parking spots by alerting you to vehicles approaching from the side. Available on higher trims, these technologies are essential for navigating busy parking lots and highways with confidence.

STARLINK Safety and Security

In addition to physical safety features, the Ascent is equipped with Subaru’s STARLINK Safety and Security system. This suite includes Automatic Collision Notification to alert an advisor in case of an accident, SOS Emergency Assistance to provide immediate help when needed, and vehicle diagnostics alerts to keep your Subaru in top condition. These digital features add an extra layer of safety and convenience, ensuring help is always at hand.

360-Degree Surround-View Camera

For the ultimate in situational awareness, the Ascent offers an available 360-degree surround-view camera system. This feature gives you a bird’s-eye view of the area around your vehicle, making parking and maneuvering in tight spaces easier than ever. By providing a complete picture of your immediate surroundings, the Ascent makes sure you’re aware of obstacles at all times, greatly reducing the risk of accidents.

Outback vs. Forester vs. Ascent – Off-Road Capabilities

These formidable SUVs are no strangers to conquering rugged landscapes, navigating through muddy trails, and tackling the elements with unwavering confidence. With generous ground clearance, advanced all-wheel drive systems, and robust suspension setups, they surely are considered some of the best off-road cars. But let’s check the engine specifications and see for yourself why these are the top-notch choices when exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Power 182 hp @ 5,800 rpm182 hp @ 5,800 rpm260 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque176 ft-lbs. @ 4,400 rpm176 ft-lbs. @ 4,400 rpm277 lb·ft @ 2,000 – 4,800 rpm (376 N·m)
Displacement2.5 l2.5 l2.4 l
DrivetrainAll wheel driveAll wheel driveAll wheel drive
ConfigurationFlat 4Flat 4Flat 4

As you can see, these SUVs have similar engine specifications. Surely, this doesn’t mean they are completely the same, on the contrary. But, just keep in mind this information when the time comes you need to decide which one is right for you.

Car engine
When it comes to engine specifications, these two SUVs are the same

Subaru Forester vs. Ascent vs. Outback – When Comfort Meets Functionality

Undoubtedly, the Outback’s cabin offers a remarkable advantage in terms of spaciousness and comfort, thanks to its wagon body style. With the evolution of cars, it’s normal that many things have changed when it comes to cargo capacity. Comparing these two models, the Outback takes the lead with 32.6 cubic feet, surpassing the Forester’s 28.9 cubic feet. 

However, with the rear seats folded down, the Forester and Outback provide nearly identical cargo space, with the former offering 74.2 cubic feet and the latter offering 75.6 cubic feet. Thus, whether it’s the need for greater passenger comfort or accommodating larger loads, the Outback’s wagon design delivers an enhanced sense of roominess, making it a compelling choice for those seeking both versatility and ample cargo capacity. 

But to get a better picture, here’s a table of all the information you need to know.

Outback AscentForester
Curb weight3,661 lb.4,499 lbs.3,454 lb.
Seating capacity57 or 85
Ground clearance8.7 in.8.7 inches8.7 in.
Height66.1 in.71.6 in.67.5 in.
Length191.1 in.196.8 In.182.7 in.
Wheelbase108.1 in.113.8 In.105.1 in.

Consider the Pricing Differences

If you’re not looking for the most expensive car in the world, you’re at the right place. The starting price for the 2023 Subaru Outback is $28,395, with the option for turbo power beginning at $38,445. For those seeking the pinnacle of luxury and performance, the range-topping Touring XT trim can be yours from $42,295. It’s worth noting that all Outback models are subject to a $1,225 destination fee.

The base model of the 2023 Forester begins at $26,395, excluding the destination charge. For those seeking the ultimate experience, the Touring variant takes the lead, starting at $36,495. With limited options available for the Touring trim, there are few opportunities to significantly increase the price beyond that point.

The Subaru Ascent, designed as a family-first SUV, starts its pricing at $33,420 for the base model. The range extends to higher trims such as the Touring model, which begins at $46,570, reflecting its additional luxury features and capacity. Like its siblings, the Ascent is subject to a $1,225 destination fee. This pricing structure is a testament to Subaru’s commitment to providing value across its vehicle range, offering a compelling mix of size, safety, and sophistication without venturing into luxury SUV pricing territory. 

The warranty for the Ascent mirrors that of the Outback and Forester, maintaining Subaru’s standard of a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, ensuring peace of mind for new owners.

Two men shaking hands in a dealership
Forester comes at a lower price

Subaru Outback vs. Forester vs. Ascent – The Final Showdown

The Subaru Forester and Outback stand out as remarkable crossover SUVs, embodying reliability, versatility, and impressive off-road capabilities. Adding the Subaru Ascent broadens the horizons for those requiring even more space and versatility. Ultimately, the decision between these three models rests on individual preferences, budget considerations, and specific lifestyle requirements.

If you prioritize ample cargo space and desire the uniqueness of a wagon body style, the Outback becomes an obvious choice. On the other hand, if you seek a more traditional SUV with a commanding driving position, the Forester presents a compelling option. Regardless of your selection, Subaru’s unwavering commitment to quality, safety, and performance ensures an enjoyable driving experience and countless satisfying miles, all while delivering excellent value.