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For enhanced safety, the front and middle seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes E-Class Wagon have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru Outback doesn’t offer pretensioners for the middle seat belts.
The E-Class Wagon’s pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The Outback doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.
The E-Class Wagon offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.
The E-Class Wagon’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The Outback doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.
Both the E-Class Wagon and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, all wheel drive, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.
The E-Class Wagon comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Outback’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 28th, below the industry average.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 15th in reliability. With 20 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.
The E-Class Wagon’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 187 more horsepower (362 vs. 175) and 195 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The E-Class Wagon’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 106 more horsepower (362 vs. 256) and 122 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.
In heavy traffic or at stoplights the E-Class Wagon’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Outback doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.
The E-Class Wagon has 2.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the Outback (21.1 vs. 18.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.
For better stopping power the E-Class Wagon’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:
The E-Class Wagon stops much shorter than the Outback:
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For better traction, the E-Class Wagon has larger standard tires than the Outback (245/45R18 vs. 225/65R17). The E-Class Wagon’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (F:245/45R18 & R:275/40R18 vs. 225/65R17).
The E-Class Wagon’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The E-Class Wagon’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the E-Class Wagon has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The E-Class Wagon’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.
Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the E-Class Wagon can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Outback doesn’t offer run-flat tires.
The E-Class Wagon has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Outback’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.
The rear suspension of the E-Class Wagon uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the Outback, which uses coil springs. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.
The E-Class Wagon offers an available driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Outback’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.
The E-Class Wagon has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The E-Class Wagon’s height leveling suspension allows the driver to raise ride height for better off-road clearance and then lower it again for easier entering and exiting and better on-road handling. The Outback doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.
The E-Class Wagon’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Outback doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the E-Class Wagon’s wheelbase is 7.6 inches longer than on the Outback (115.7 inches vs. 108.1 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the E-Class Wagon is .9 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.
The E-Class Wagon’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.7% to 48.3%) than the Outback’s (56.2% to 43.8%). This gives the E-Class Wagon more stable handling and braking.
The E 400 4MATIC Wagon handles at .87 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.
The E 400 4MATIC Wagon executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.7 seconds quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (25.7 seconds @ .73 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).
The E-Class Wagon is 7.5 inches shorter in height than the Outback, making the E-Class Wagon much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).
The E-Class Wagon has standard seating for 7 passengers; the Outback can only carry 5.
Pressing a switch automatically lowers the E-Class Wagon’s second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Outback doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the E-Class Wagon’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The Outback doesn’t offer a hands-free gesture to open its liftgate, forcing you to put cargo down if your hands are full.
The E-Class Wagon has a maintenance free battery for long life without checking the battery’s water level. The Outback doesn’t have a maintenance free battery, so the water level in the battery’s cells must be checked often to prevent damage.
J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 42% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 18th.
Unlike the driver-only memory seat in the Outback Limited, the E-Class Wagon has standard driver and passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.
The E-Class Wagon’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Outback doesn’t offer an easy entry system.
The E-Class Wagon offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and navigation instruction readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The Outback doesn’t offer a heads-up display.
The power windows standard on both the E-Class Wagon and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the E-Class Wagon is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Outback prevents the driver from operating the rear windows just as it does the other passengers.
The E-Class Wagon’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Outback’s standard passenger windows don’t open or close automatically.
If the windows are left open on the E-Class Wagon the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The E-Class Wagon’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Outback’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.
Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the E-Class Wagon to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The Outback doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid.
The E-Class Wagon’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Subaru only offers heated mirrors on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.
When the E-Class Wagon is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Outback’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.
Optional air-conditioned seats in the E-Class Wagon keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Outback doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.
The E-Class Wagon has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the Outback Premium/Limited/Touring.
Both the E-Class Wagon and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the E-Class Wagon has available rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outback Base/Premium doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.
The E-Class Wagon offers an optional 115-volt a/c outlet on the center console, allowing you to recharge a laptop or run small household appliances without special adapters that can break or get misplaced. The Outback doesn’t offer a house-current electrical outlet.
The E-Class Wagon’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Outback doesn’t offer an automated parking system.
The Mercedes E-Class comes in coupe, convertible, sedan and station wagon bodystyles; the Subaru Outback isn’t available as a coupe, convertible or sedan.
According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the E-Class Wagon is less expensive to operate than the Outback because it costs $171 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the E-Class Wagon than the Outback, including $28 less for front struts.
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