2019 Volvo V90 vs. 2018 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/06

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo V90 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 rear seat belts.

The V90’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.

Both the V90 and Outback have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The V90 has power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Outback’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The Volvo V90 offers optional built in child booster seats. They’re more crash worthy than an added child seat because of their direct attachment to the seat. Subaru doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Outback. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; V90 owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The V90 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The Outback doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

The V90 offers an optional 360° Camera 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 V90’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 V90 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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The V90 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.

The V90’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Outback’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the V90 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Outback.

Reliability

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The battery on the V90 is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the V90’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Outback’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volvo vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volvo 22nd in reliability. With 5 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 24th.

Engine

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The V90 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 75 more horsepower (250 vs. 175) and 84 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The V90 T5’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl. The V90 T6’s standard 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. produces 60 more horsepower (316 vs. 256) and 48 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the V90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. is faster than the Outback 3.6R 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.:

 

V90

Outback

Zero to 30 MPH

2.1 sec

2.8 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.5 sec

17.8 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

7.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3 sec

3.5 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.2 sec

4.3 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

99 MPH

94 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the V90’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Outback doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the V90’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 V90 has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The Outback doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the V90’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

 

V90 T5

V90 T6

Outback

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

13.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The V90 stops much shorter than the Outback:

 

V90

Outback

 

70 to 0 MPH

157 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

110 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the V90 has larger tires than the Outback (255/40R19 vs. 225/65R17).

The V90’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 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 V90’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the V90 has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The V90’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.

Suspension and Handling

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The V90 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.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the V90’s wheelbase is 7.7 inches longer than on the Outback (115.8 inches vs. 108.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the V90 is 1.9 inches wider in the front and 1.5 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

The V90’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (53.7% to 46.3%) than the Outback’s (56.2% to 43.8%). This gives the V90 more stable handling and braking.

The V90 T6 AWD Inscription handles at .94 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The V90 T6 AWD Inscription executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.1 seconds quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (26.3 seconds @ .67 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

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The V90 is 8 inches shorter in height than the Outback, making the V90 much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

As tested by Car and Driver while cruising at 70 MPH, the interior of the V90 T6 AWD Inscription is quieter than the Outback 3.6R Limited (66 vs. 69 dB).

Passenger Space

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The V90 has .9 inches more front hip room and .7 inches more rear hip room than the Outback.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the V90 easier. The V90’s trunk lift-over height is 24 inches, while the Outback’s liftover is 27.9 inches.

The V90’s cargo area is larger than the Outback’s in every dimension:

 

V90

Outback

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

45.4”/78.3”

41.8”/77.7”

Min Width

43.3”

42”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the V90’s rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Outback doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the V90’s 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.

Towing

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Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Outback is limited to 2700 pounds. The V90 offers up to a 3500 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The V90 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.

Ergonomics

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Unlike the driver-only memory seat in the Outback Limited, the V90 Inscription has a passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The V90 offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation 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 V90 and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the V90 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 V90’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 V90 the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The V90’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 nozzles are standard on the V90 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Outback doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The V90 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Outback doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The V90’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 V90 is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The Outback’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the V90 Inscription 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 V90 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 V90 and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the V90 has standard 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 V90 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 V90’s optional Park Assist Pilot 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.

Model Availability

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The V90 is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/07/06

The V90 was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2018. The Outback hasn’t been picked since 2006.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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