Ford Explorer Vs Subaru Outback: Fully Compared

Which is a better ride to buy? Ford Explorer or Subaru Outback? Both SUVs have quite a lot in common; they are mid-size crossover SUVs with enough space for families.

The Ford Explorer is reliable, long-lasting, and so is the Subaru Outback. The final choice to pick between Explorers and Outbacks depends on your preferences and budget.

However, while these SUVs are recommendable for anyone looking to get a mid-size SUV, this Ford Explorer Vs Subaru Outback comparison points out the differences between the rides.

A quick one, Ford Explorer, is more expensive than Subaru Outback, but the Outback offers better handling, thanks to the Symmetrical AWD.

Ford Explorer

Explorer is a series of mid-size SUVs manufactured by Ford Motor Company since 1990. Currently, in its sixth generation, the Ford Explorer SUV is of the sturdiest SUVs in its category.

Also, it offers multiple chassis and powertrain layout options. There have been many versions and editions of the Ford Explorer, including a 5-door wagon Explorer.

The most powerful engine in the Ford Explorer chassis lineup produces a whopping 400 hp with 415 lb-ft of torque. Ford Explorer is available in multiple trim levels, and it’s a reliable SUV you can drive through rocky paths.

However, while the Ford Explorer SUV looks good, it usually ranks below the 10th in most auto rankings by top websites.

See Also: Kia Telluride Vs Toyota Highlander

Subaru Outback

Outback is a nameplate for a series of SUVs and wagons produced by the top Japanese automaker, Subaru. The production started in 1994 for the 1995 model year. Subaru Outbacks are remarkable for their exceptional reliability and sophisticated features.

The Outback series is in its sixth generation, and there have been several improvements to the design and build. Subaru Outbacks have multiple chassis and powertrain options. There are also different trim levels to buy. Outbacks typically rank high in auto ratings, thanks to their high reliability and sturdiness.

Ford Explorer Vs Subaru Outback: What Are The Main Differences?

Here’s a quick one; the Ford Explorer is basically an SUV, but the Subaru Outback is a nameplate for two types of cars, a wagon and a Subaru Impreza-based hatchback.

Comparing FactorsFord ExplorerSubaru Outback
Reliability3.8 out of 5.03.8 out of 5.0
Engine PowerMore PowerNormal
Fuel EconomyPoorGood
Cargo SpaceBiggerStandard for its class
Drivetrain2WD and 4WD2WD and 4WD
ExteriorSporty AppearanceSporty Appearance

Note: This comparison is based on the performance, appearance, and OEM information of all Ford Explorer and Subaru Outback models ever produced (not based on a particular model year).

1. Reliability

Anyone shopping for a new car is certainly looking out for one that would last long –  a RELIABLE car. But, you can’t tell a car’s reliability by reading what the manufacturer put out on the listing/info page. Platforms like RepairPal, Consumer Reports, and J.D. Power are the best for measuring car reliability scores.

The Ford Explorer and Subaru Outback have the same 3.5 out of 5.0 reliability scores from RepairPal. On the other hand, Ford Explorer managed to maintain an average of 78% out of 100% rating on J.D. Power, while Subaru Outback stayed at an average of 79%. Pretty much, both rides have the same reliability.

2. Engine Power

Both Ford Explorer and Subaru Outback have several engine options for their different models. However, the best engine you can get on a Ford Explorer, the twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6, produces up to 400 HP and 415 lb-ft of torque. That’s quite so much power for any kind of driving.

In contrast, the most powerful Subaru Outback engine produces 260 HP, a turbocharged 2.4L flat-four cylinder engine. Well, this engine doesn’t give as much power as you’d get with Ford Explorers. So clearly, Ford Explorers offer more engine power.

3. Design and Build

The Subaru Outback beats the Ford Explorer from the outside to the inside. Although Ford Explorers are pretty well-built with nice interior finishing, you need to see the Subaru Outbacks to agree that they’ve got better designs all-around.

Subaru Outbacks give you a similar feeling to driving a luxury SUV/wagon at a lower budget.

4. Standard Features

Both Ford Explorer and Subaru Outback have several optional features you could opt-in for, but generally, the standard features on these rides weigh equally.

Outbacks offer active front seat restraints, windshield wiper de-icer,  heated seats, heated exterior mirrors, automatic climate control,  and more as standard features.

On the flip side, Ford Explorer offers LED headlights and taillights, three-zone climate control, a power liftgate, an intelligent infotainment system, and pretty more. The standard features on most Ford Explorer models match what you get from Subaru Outbacks.

5. Trim Levels

Ford Explorers are produced in 5 or 8 trim levels; the number of available trims depends on the model year. However, here are all the trim levels of the Ford Explorer: Base, XLT, ST-Line, Timberline, Limited, ST, King Ranch, and Platinum.

Subaru Outbacks are produced in 4 or 7 trim levels depending on the model year you buy. The trim levels are Base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Subaru Outback bigger than a Ford Explorer?

Generally, comparing all the Explorer and Outback models ever produced, the Ford Explorer is visibly the larger/bigger vehicle. Ford Explorers are typically wider and longer than Outbacks produced in the same year.

Ford Explorer vs. Subaru Outback, Which Has Better Fuel Economy?

Based on owners’ reports and feedback, the Subaru Outback saves more fuel than the Ford Explorer. The Subaru flat-four engine gives Outbacks an edge over Ford Explorers in terms of fuel economy.

Between Ford Explorer and Subaru Outback, Which Is Best For Off-Roading?

Ford Explorers typically come with more powerful engines and sturdier powertrains; the Subaru Outback uses a smart AWD system for off-roading. While the Subaru Outback drives well through off-road paths, you’d enjoy a smoother off-roading experience with an Explorer.


This Ford Explorer vs. Subaru Outback comparison focuses on the general differences between all models ever produced.

Overall, the Outback offers smoother, better driving (on-road), while the Explorer seamlessly takes you through off-road terrains. The Outback is also cheaper with a fancier appearance.

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