Both the 2021 Subaru Outback and the Toyota Highlander are worthy vehicles for families and weekend warriors. If you're ready to begin the car-buying process, it's important to have a reliable vehicle for traveling the roads of Wakefield, Reading, and Danvers, MA.

The spacious Outback is a high-performing SUV with a long list of standard features, while the Highlander crossover SUV offers dedicated performance and plenty of standard features of its own. So, the team at Ira Subaru has created this Subaru Outback vs. Toyota Highlander comparison to take a deeper look at some of the key items to consider when looking at these two SUVs.

Keep reading to get started and contact us with any questions.

Outback vs Highlander: Quick Facts


Subaru Outback

Toyota Highlander

Standard Gas Mileage

EPA-estimated 26 city/

33 highway MPG

EPA-estimated 21 city/

29 highway MPG

Premium Audio System Speakers

12 speakers

11 speakers

Number of Color Options



Standard AWD



Outback vs Highlander: Performance and Gas Mileage

The base engine in the 2021 Outback is a 4-cylinder engine that's plenty strong for daily driving around town. The base engine in the 2021 Highlander is a peppy V6 engine that also handles well as a daily driver.

The Outback's base engine is a fuel-efficient one, earning an EPA-estimated 26 city/33 highway MPG. Ultimately, this means fewer trips to the gas station to refuel and more time to focus on the road ahead. While efficient, the Highlander gets an EPA-estimated 21 city/29 highway MPG, leaving little doubt that the Outback is the right choice for the fuel-conscious driver.

Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander: Infotainment Systems

With a lengthy list of standard infotainment options, the Outback does a good job of keeping both driver and passengers entertained throughout the entire drive. The Subaru Outback features a standard SUBARU STARLINK Multimedia system with a 7-inch touch-screen, including SiriusXM®, SiriusXM® Travel Link®, and more.

The Highlander's standard touch-screen is a slightly larger 8-inch display offering similar features. Where the two infotainment systems differ is in the features that come with an optional upgrade. The Highlander only offers an 8-inch screen and 11 JBL® speakers with its available premium audio system.

When it comes to the Subaru Outback, you'll be treated to an available 12-speaker Harmon Kardon® premium audio system. If you want to make your next trip more exciting, you may want to consider having the Outback by your side.

Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander: Style

Anyone looking to really stand out on the highway will find something to like in these two SUVs. They each boast confidence-inspiring looks that will help you feel in control when you're headed out on a trip. Not only that, but their sturdy builds will also make you feel right at home when trekking toward a campsite.

When it comes to color options, you'll find a bit more to like with the Subaru Outback. If you opt for the Outback, you'll have your choice of nine different colors, including a unique Autumn Green Metallic. Unfortunately, if you choose the Toyota Highlander, you'll only have up to eight different color choices.

On the interior, you'll find plenty of stylish features inside both these SUVs as well with available leather-trimmed upholstery offered in both cabins. The Subaru Outback takes this further, though, letting you upgrade to available Nappa leather-trimmed upholstery, ensuring your SUV will have the utmost in both comfort and style.

Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander: Active Safety Capabilities

You'll want to stay safe when the roads get busy, and the Subaru Outback and the Toyota Highlander can both help in that respect with their many different safety features. Both these vehicles feature technology that looks out for you and your passengers. Some of the features shared by these SUVs include:

  • Pre-collision Braking
  • Lane Departure and Sway Warning
  • Advanced Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering
  • High Beam Assist

To kick things up a notch, though, the Subaru Outback brings with it unique features like an available DriverFocus Distraction Mitigation System. This technology will monitor your driving for signs of fatigue or distraction. It can then alert you to bring your attention back to the road or urge you to take a break from driving.

Not only that but the Outback also offers an available Reverse Automatic Braking system. With this technology by your side, you'll have an extra set of eyes looking out for you while you're driving in reverse. If your car detects an object or another car behind you, it can engage the brakes and bring your Outback to a stop.

Finally, in order to help when you're navigating tight spots, you'll have an available 180-Degree Front-View Monitor. This system puts a camera in front of your SUV to help you better see what's ahead. Whether you're navigating a rugged trail or just parking your car, you can look to this feature for help.

Outback vs Highlander: Tackle Any Road

Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive (AWD) comes standard in the 2021 Outback. This AWD system properly balances weight between the two sides of the vehicle, provides power to all four wheels, and offers optimal traction in snowy conditions, on wet roads, and on rough terrain. Unfortunately, the 2021 Highlander does not offer AWD as a standard feature.

The Outback's 8.7-inch ground clearance also comes in handy if you're doing some low-level off-roading. The Highlander, meanwhile, checks in with eight inches of ground clearance, giving the Subaru a small advantage in this category.

Another unique feature aboard the Outback not offered by the Highlander is the standard X-MODE® system. This technology will work to enhance your all-wheel drive dynamics to provide smooth performance when driving on challenging surfaces.

Subaru Outback vs Toyota Highlander: The Final Verdict

When searching for a car to help you tackle the roads of Wakefield, Reading, and Danvers, Massachusetts, drivers should certainly consider both the 2021 Subaru Outback and the 2021 Toyota Highlander. However, with its superior fuel economy, infotainment capabilities, and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback is an outstanding choice for the adventurous yet family-friendly driver.

To experience it for yourself, test drive the 2021 Subaru Outback. Stop by the Ira Subaru showroom or schedule a test drive with us today!


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