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I currently have a 2020 Limited Outback XT --- prior to that had a 2016 Limited Legacy with the 3.6 -- I like the Outback but its a feels a little bulky for lack of a better word -- it is just me in vehicle most all the time -- have 2 kids that will both be in college this fall so they are rarely with me anymore sadly -- the Outback has an incredible ride on the interstate but in town driving its just too big for what I really need -- I am not a fan of the turbo lag in the XT at all the 3.6 was a much smoother engine imo -- had to have some maintenance on the Outback -- they gave me a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.0 engine --- it was a blast to drive and I may consider a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.5 engine or the 2021 Forester in probably limited or touring -- I am thinking that the Forester may be the happy medium -- has anyone else downsized to Forester and/or Crosstrek and been satisfied??
We have had all three! I had first a 2011 and then a 2014 Forester (both Limiteds) I really wanted to get Eyesight and would have to wait a total of 6 months to get a 2017 Forester (Touring), so I opted to get an Outback Limited. In 2020 I traded in on a 2020 Forester Touring. This year my husband traded in his 2017 Impreza on a 2021 Crosstrek.

Here‘s the lowdown: The Crosstrek (with the newly available larger engine) is a fun zippy car, my husband loves it, but the available options are less then the Forester. Top line (Limited) and fully loaded he could not get luxuries like a heated steering wheel, electronic parking break, dual climate control, which the Forester offers. The Outback offers a step up from the Forester with additional options that you can’t get on the Forester, like the 180 system, but the Forester and Outback are much more similar, as both cater to a more upscale buyer. The seating position on both the Crosstrek and Forester are more upright (SUV type) while the Outback is a lower car like position. The Outback has enormous cargo space with all seats up, the Forester is adequate but not huge. Personally, for empty nesters ( like us) I prefer the Forester.
 

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2020 Forester Touring
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For my money, the XT with the 2.5 is just a blast to drive. And yes like DebKY said, some things are missing when compared to the Forester. They’re available on the Canadian version, but not the American. So, I don’t miss the heated steering wheel. All of that said, we have both a 2020 Forester and 2021 XT limited. Wife loves the Forester, I prefer the XT. It’s very roomy, performs really well with the 2.5. Still gets 28 mpg. Forester is great too, very comfortable, none of that bulk the Outback has (we had that also).
if you haven’t figured it out, DebKY is the wife. She buys the cars and gets much better deals than I can!
 

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2014 Crosstrek Premium XV CVT
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One highly notable difference that gets little or no attention is towing capacity. Historically, Outback has capacity of 2700# versus only 1500#s for Forester and Crosstrek, (except newer Outbacks 2020 and 21 Onyx models pull more like 3500# I think). These are huge differences and if towing is going to be considered, especially with the pandemic and growing popularity of pulling campers, most trailers and pop up campers are going to push over the 1500# limit and the Forester and Crosstrek fall mostly out of the picture. This higher capacity could potentially help resale as well for the secondary market that want to tow.
 

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for what its worth, we just bought the 2021 Forester premium, this past two weeks we drove 4200 miles , she is a wonderful , great handling, comfortable wagon, and will carry a bunch of stuff... also empty nesters
we both love the wagon, i love lot more than i thought i would...;):cool:(y)
 

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2021 Subaru Forester Touring
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I just bought a 2021 Forester Touring to replace a 2011 Lexus ES 350, which was a downsizing from an overall length and rear seat legroom standpoint. The former was necessary in order to be able to park in the garage of my new house with a workbench against the back wall. That workbench also ruled out the Outback, which is longer than the Forester (I can open the rear hatch of the Forester after backing in, with 2-3" clearance from the garage door and 3-4" clearance from the workbench).

Before settling on the Forester, I also checked out the Crosstrek, which felt too small to me, both comfort-wise and for cargo capacity in back. I'm 6' 2" with long legs (I can straddle a 36" tennis net without cutting myself in half), so ample legroom is important. I do have to push the Forester's driver's seat all the way back, but it fits me. [As an aside, the rear seat leg room in the Forester isn't as ample while I'm driving as in the ES, but that's neither a surprise nor a problem--I'm retired, and don't expect to need to haul adults in the back for long trips (just short stuff around town, and only rarely)--and it's still a good sight better than in a Crosstrek.]

The Forester also sits higher than the Outback or Crosstrek and has all-around excellent visibility. Despite the higher seat height, there's enough room overhead for me to wear a fedora while I'm driving (which I could never do in the ES, or any other car I've ever owned, for that matter). Love having all that headroom, which you won't find in either the Outback or Crosstrek.

One tip to maxing out the cargo utility of the Forester (I pretty much use mine as a truck) is to buy the rear seatback protector (matches the cargo floor protector that comes with the Touring). I also found that the front passenger seatback will fold way forward, allowing for extra-long items with the rear seatback folded.

As for towing...well, you really don't want to do (and can't do) much more than a utility trailer with a Forester. I'd recommend that you skip it entirely unless you're going to pull a trailer on a very regular basis. What most people don't consider is that as soon as they have a permanent hitch installed, their rear crash protection is horribly compromised, as the hitch is rigidly attached to the frame, and sticks out far enough to the rear that it will take the brunt of any centered rear impact. Such an impact will result in almost all of the energy of the impact being transmitted to the frame in a very short, high-peak-intensity pulse (as opposed to the longer, lower-peak-intensity pulse that results when the rear bumper can crush down and do its work).

Why is this a big deal? Because the seats are hard-mounted to the frame, meaning that the seat occupants will be directly connected to that shorter-duration, higher-peak-intensity pulse. This is going to expose them to a much more severe whiplash effect (yes, even with the headrests properly adjusted). The medical summaries I've read indicates this is also much more of a problem for women and children than men, relatively speaking and on average (same-sex body types being on a normal curve distribution, after all), due to their smaller neck structure.

So unless you really need to haul a trailer a lot (if you're a landscaper, say), then I'd recommend not even installing a hitch. If you're really going to do a lot of trailer camping, get something a lot bigger and with more power and towing load than a Forester.

As for the auto stop-start function: I'll admit that I really wanted this to work for me (I'm cheap, and do all sorts of things to boost my mileage), so instead of just giving up on it because it's unfamiliar, I learned how to adapt by forming a new habit pattern. First off, I always engage the Auto-Hold Braking feature (as soon as I start the car; I wish there was a setting for it to come on automatically, but there isn't). When I roll up to a light and come to a full stop and the Auto-Hold Braking activates, I lift my foot off the brake pedal. If the engine is able to auto-stop, this is when it will do so. I then pay attention to what's going on at the intersection, and when it's about time to get moving, I put my foot on the brake pedal to restart the engine. When I'm ready to accelerate, the engine is already running, and I'm good to go. It took me about 5-6 trips to train my brain do this, but now I hardly even think about it.
 

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2020 Subaru Forester
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I currently have a 2020 Limited Outback XT --- prior to that had a 2016 Limited Legacy with the 3.6 -- I like the Outback but its a feels a little bulky for lack of a better word -- it is just me in vehicle most all the time -- have 2 kids that will both be in college this fall so they are rarely with me anymore sadly -- the Outback has an incredible ride on the interstate but in town driving its just too big for what I really need -- I am not a fan of the turbo lag in the XT at all the 3.6 was a much smoother engine imo -- had to have some maintenance on the Outback -- they gave me a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.0 engine --- it was a blast to drive and I may consider a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.5 engine or the 2021 Forester in probably limited or touring -- I am thinking that the Forester may be the happy medium -- has anyone else downsized to Forester and/or Crosstrek and been satisfied??
I went from a 2018 Outback to a 2020 Forester and I love it. The Outback was actually a bit big for me and the Crosstrek was ok, but I felt kind of compacted inside, but of course this is my personal opinion other drivers may feel differently toward the Crosstrek. I believe you would be happy with a Forester. I hope this helps.
 

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2005 2.5X 4EAT 2017 2.5i Prem CVT
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We've had both an Outback and a Crosstrek as service loaners in recent months. Something about the Outback just didn't seem right. Seemed a lot bulkier than it really is. Even for someone used to the radio/HVAC displays in modern cars, figuring out the huge one in the Outback was akin to a new 787 pilot on their first simulator ride. Nothing intuitive about it.

The Crosstrek was fun to drive, but I can see where it might get a bit cramped for two (and a dog) on a really long trip. Our loaner was a base with the 2.0 and I was pleasantly surprised with the power. Not great, but certainly better than the 2.0's "Slothtrek" reputation. Upon returning the Crosstrek loaner we test drove a Sport with the 2.5. First Subie I've driven that's not available in World Rally Blue and still capable of pinning you back in the seat. We really liked that one, but in the end we would get a 2017 Forester. The overall size and especially the higher seating position is just right for us.
 

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What most people don't consider is that as soon as they have a permanent hitch installed, their rear crash protection is horribly compromised, as the hitch is rigidly attached to the frame, and sticks out far enough to the rear that it will take the brunt of any centered rear impact. Such an impact will result in almost all of the energy of the impact being transmitted to the frame in a very short, high-peak-intensity pulse (as opposed to the longer, lower-peak-intensity pulse that results when the rear bumper can crush down and do its work).
I was under the impression that if your hitch replaced the bumper beam, like the Subaru hitch does, rear crash protection was mostly maintained. The other style inexpensive hitch bolts that clamp through the unibody structure would simply tear through the sheet metal, no real "frame" like cars used to have. The receiver insert tube itself is pretty low, nowadays there are far more jacked up trucklettes to rear end you and likely hit you above your bumper, than low slung sports cars that would under ride the bumper and contact the receiver insert tube. It happens, in 02 my 626 GT was squarely rear ended by an inattentive Suburban driver, it fortunately was not raised, but it was equipped with a snow plow cylinder. My non bumper beam, T shaped hitch tore free from the spare tire well and the forward edge of the hitch dug into the road. My bumper was jammed into both of my rear wheels, and the roof even bent, a fairly hard hit. The Chevy driver was busy with his coffee, not his driving. So sorry.

With a good Thule or Yak rack, the Forester roof rails will carry a lot of stuff too. Not the case with Outback style or the other brands common nearly flush roof rails. I see the new Outback Wilderness substitutes Forester type roof rails, and advertises that with these, an Outback can now support a roof top tent. Function over style, a rarity.
 

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2019 Forester - Touring CVT
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To me the Forester is just right in size for 2-4 people. The back seat is very roomy for 2 people and the boxy shape with the high roof and lots of glass also just makes it feel big inside. I can imagine that the cargo space with the seats up is snug if you have 4 people on a road trip, but there is always the possibility to use a rooftop carrier to add a good deal more cargo space if it's a family vehicle. About the only reason I would want the Outback is I might want to tow a teardrop camper once I retire for extended trips around the US and Canada, and the ones I like are from 1600-2000lb. Hopefully Subaru will eventually offer some engine option to increase the towing capacity of the Forester some - even 2500lb would be a very useful increase. The standard Forester already has plenty of capacity for a 14-16 foot aluminum fishing skiff as I am likely to get later this year - tow weight there is only about 650-1000lb, depending on just what you get.
 

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We traded our Outback 6 for a 2017 Forester touring XT. I would not consider it down sizing...just shape changing. Looking at the spec the interior volume is essentially identical. I very much like the better visability out of the forester, the taller back hatch (can fit garbage can in). I REALLY like the turbo vs the old 6 cylinder. Since the Forester turbo is no longer available we just test drove a new 21 Outback with a turbo. While it is very nice, very smooth ride I decide not to trade but keep our Forester XT. Hopefully the 22 model year will give us a new turbo Forester....if not I'll check the Mazda 5 turbo or look at Audi again.
 

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I currently have a 2020 Limited Outback XT --- prior to that had a 2016 Limited Legacy with the 3.6 -- I like the Outback but its a feels a little bulky for lack of a better word -- it is just me in vehicle most all the time -- have 2 kids that will both be in college this fall so they are rarely with me anymore sadly -- the Outback has an incredible ride on the interstate but in town driving its just too big for what I really need -- I am not a fan of the turbo lag in the XT at all the 3.6 was a much smoother engine imo -- had to have some maintenance on the Outback -- they gave me a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.0 engine --- it was a blast to drive and I may consider a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.5 engine or the 2021 Forester in probably limited or touring -- I am thinking that the Forester may be the happy medium -- has anyone else downsized to Forester and/or Crosstrek and been satisfied??
I have a '20 Forester Sport. It has been great, but I can't see the Forester solving the issue of the Outback feeling bulky. It would probably feel more bulky than your Outback due to the fact that the Forester has a taller shape. I could see the Crosstrek solving the problem though.
 

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Between my wife and me, we have both a 202 Outback and a 2019 Forester. The Forester has a shorter length but taller height. I like the heads up lane change alert on the Outback, but I much prefer the simpler climate controls on the Forester. No driver should be required to navigate touch screen displays while driving. It is a downright dangerous distraction!
The forester also has a more practical cargo area. The tailgate has an opening that is more than 4 feet wide! That is the largest of any Subaru - even the Ascent.
Passenger space for both the Outback and Forester is more than adequate. The shorter wheelbas on the Forester makes it a little more nimble, but ride comfort suffers slightly.
 

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I don't see how switching to a Forester is "downsizing", either. I test drove both the '19 Outback, and '19 Forester, I felt the Outback was "tight", the seats were hard and uncomfortable (to me), and it was lower than I wanted now. Mind you I was coming out of a '06 Outback 2.5i, which I absolutely loved, much sportier and fun to drive but getting in and out of the lower seating was becoming literally a pain. So I have my '19 Foz Sport and it's just perfect for me. Only thing I have noticed is it's a long "reach" to close the driver-side door, very wide when it's open fully (I'm not particularly tall) but I do love the higher seating position and the panoramic view. The ride is outstanding and it totally hauls donkey! No problem passing or merging, it just goes! And plenty of room for cargo especially with the higher roofline. I am curious, I'm getting about 25.2 mpg, combined hwy/town, (I do drive fast and there's always traffic), others doing a lot better?
 

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I will say that the Foresters are much larger than they were a few generations ago. My wife switched from a 2008 to a 2020. It's a huge difference.

Personally, if the Forester remained the same size over the years we probably would have been looking a lot harder at the Outback but as it is, the Outback simply doesn't feel all that much bigger to me. ....just dimensionally different as someone mentioned.

The Crosstek on the other hand is just too small for us.
 

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We feel the same way about our Forester & our Pilot. Anything over a couple hundred miles and we take the Pilot. Not that the Forester isn't a great driving, nice riding vehicle, but the Pilot is just, well you know...
What year is your Forester? It is obvious that @adc is rocking one that is no later than 2018 as it is an XT. I've heard that the gen 5 (2019+) is a big jump forward in comfort. Still probably not as comfortable as the 2020+ Outback, but dang good. I don't have personal experience yet, but trying them out at the dealership seems to back up this sentiment.
 

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To me the Forester is just right in size for 2-4 people. The back seat is very roomy for 2 people and the boxy shape with the high roof and lots of glass also just makes it feel big inside. I can imagine that the cargo space with the seats up is snug if you have 4 people on a road trip, but there is always the possibility to use a rooftop carrier to add a good deal more cargo space if it's a family vehicle. About the only reason I would want the Outback is I might want to tow a teardrop camper once I retire for extended trips around the US and Canada, and the ones I like are from 1600-2000lb. Hopefully Subaru will eventually offer some engine option to increase the towing capacity of the Forester some - even 2500lb would be a very useful increase. The standard Forester already has plenty of capacity for a 14-16 foot aluminum fishing skiff as I am likely to get later this year - tow weight there is only about 650-1000lb, depending on just what you get.
What really sucks about the Forester's towing is that the engine is not the problem. The Outback 2.5 (non XT) which has a 2700lb rating uses the same engine and transmission, and on top of that it is heavier to boot. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I get the feeling it wouldn't be too difficult for Subaru to fix. Maybe just proper transmission cooling.
 

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I currently have a 2020 Limited Outback XT --- prior to that had a 2016 Limited Legacy with the 3.6 -- I like the Outback but its a feels a little bulky for lack of a better word -- it is just me in vehicle most all the time -- have 2 kids that will both be in college this fall so they are rarely with me anymore sadly -- the Outback has an incredible ride on the interstate but in town driving its just too big for what I really need -- I am not a fan of the turbo lag in the XT at all the 3.6 was a much smoother engine imo -- had to have some maintenance on the Outback -- they gave me a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.0 engine --- it was a blast to drive and I may consider a 2021 Crosstrek with the 2.5 engine or the 2021 Forester in probably limited or touring -- I am thinking that the Forester may be the happy medium -- has anyone else downsized to Forester and/or Crosstrek and been satisfied??
I went to the dealer with the idea of buying an 2020 Outback XT Onyx and i get home the 2020 Forester Sport because it have all, the cargo space, ride is sportier and is very comfort too. I have it for a year and im very happy with that buy. Now i lifted it and put some 255 55 18 Toyo Open Country AT II on the oem wheels and its feel better, fun to drive and the offroading weekends!. Also is my daily driving, i work on the road and is the perfect car for that too.
550836
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Thank everyone for the great information!!! after driving the Crosstrek for a few days --- it is so much fun to drive but the visibility especially from the sides and back of the car is not the greatest --- I read on another thread here that the Forester Sport has a much different ride that the Forester Limited or Touring -- does anyone have an opinion of this one way or the other?? I am really wanting to drive a Forester now for a couple of days to really get a feel for the drive/ride --- which Forester trim level do you guys/gals like the best?? I tend to like leather seats because I spill stuff way too much for cloth seating lol
 

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What year is your Forester? It is obvious that @adc is rocking one that is no later than 2018 as it is an XT. I've heard that the gen 5 (2019+) is a big jump forward in comfort. Still probably not as comfortable as the 2020+ Outback, but dang good. I don't have personal experience yet, but trying them out at the dealership seems to back up this sentiment.
While the latest gen doesn't look radically different than the last, the changes inside and under the skin were significant. .....including cabin leg room, etc.

I was absolutely amazed at the rear passenger room in these cars. The 90 degree opening doors also helps with the ease of entering / exiting the vehicle as well. It's quiet, roomy and vastly more comfortable then my wife's old Forester.
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
I went to the dealer with the idea of buying an 2020 Outback XT Onyx and i get home the 2020 Forester Sport because it have all, the cargo space, ride is sportier and is very comfort too. I have it for a year and im very happy with that buy. Now i lifted it and put some 255 55 18 Toyo Open Country AT II on the oem wheels and its feel better, fun to drive and the offroading weekends!. Also is my daily driving, i work on the road and is the perfect car for that too. View attachment 550836
that's an awesome Forester!!
 
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