2020 GMC Terrain vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the GMC Terrain’s rear seat shoulder belts have child comfort guides to move the belt to properly fit children. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages children to buckle up. The Subaru Outback doesn’t offer comfort guides on its rear seat belts.

In the past twenty years hundreds of infants and young children have died after being left in vehicles, usually by accident. When turning the vehicle off, drivers of the Terrain are reminded to check the back seat if they opened the rear door before starting out. The Outback doesn’t offer a back seat reminder.

The Terrain Denali offers an optional Surround Vision 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.

Both the Terrain and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the GMC Terrain is safer than the Subaru Outback:

Terrain

Outback

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Neck Injury Risk

17%

27%

Neck Stress

190 lbs.

259 lbs.

Neck Compression

10 lbs.

42 lbs.

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Compression

.6 inches

.6 inches

Neck Injury Risk

26%

27%

Neck Stress

153 lbs.

153 lbs.

Neck Compression

51 lbs.

88 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the GMC Terrain is safer than the Subaru Outback:

Terrain

Outback

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

17 inches

Spine Acceleration

40 G’s

40 G’s

Hip Force

730 lbs.

736 lbs.

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

Warranty

The Terrain’s corrosion warranty is 1 year longer than the Outback’s (6 vs. 5 years).

There are almost 3 times as many GMC dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Terrain’s warranty.

Reliability

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that GMC vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks GMC 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

Engine

The Terrain’s standard 1.5 turbo 4-cyl. produces 29 lbs.-ft. more torque (203 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cyl. The Terrain’s optional 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 13 lbs.-ft. more torque (260 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6-cyl.

As tested in Motor Trend the GMC Terrain 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. is faster than the Outback 3.6R:

Terrain

Outback

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

7.3 sec

Quarter Mile

15.4 sec

15.7 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the Terrain’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 Terrain 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

For better stopping power the Terrain 2.0T’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

Terrain 2.0T

Outback

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.4 inches

The Terrain stops shorter than the Outback:

Terrain

Outback

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

134 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

136 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the Terrain’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (235/50R19 vs. 225/65R17).

The Terrain’s optional tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Terrain offers optional 19-inch wheels. The Outback’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

The Terrain has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The Outback doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

The Terrain Denali AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Terrain Denali AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (27.5 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

The Terrain is 7.6 inches shorter than the Outback, making the Terrain easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The Terrain uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The Outback doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Cargo Capacity

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Terrain SLE/SLT/Denali’s rear 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 Terrain SLT/Denali’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

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

Servicing Ease

The Terrain 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

The Terrain (except SL/SLE)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Outback doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The Terrain’s instruments include an oil pressure gauge and a temperature gauge - which could save your engine! Often ‘idiot lights’ don’t warn you until damage has been done. The Outback does not have an oil pressure gauge.

The power windows standard on both the Terrain and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Terrain 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 Terrain’s front and rear power windows all lower with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Outback’s standard power windows’ passenger windows don’t open automatically.

On a hot day the Terrain’s driver can lower all 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 Terrain’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 Terrain with available tilt-down mirrors 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.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the Terrain Denali 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.

Both the Terrain and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Terrain 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 Terrain (except SL) 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 Terrain Denali’s optional Automatic 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.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Terrain is less expensive to operate than the Outback because typical repairs cost less on the Terrain than the Outback, including $178 less for front struts.

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

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