2020 Lexus NX Series vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

The NX Series’ optional 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 NX Series offers an optional Panoramic View 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 NX Series’ 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 NX Series and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, 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 side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH, results indicate that the Lexus NX Series is safer than the Subaru Outback:

NX Series

Outback

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Abdominal Force

148 G’s

192 G’s

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Spine Acceleration

49 G’s

51 G’s

Hip Force

303 lbs.

527 lbs.

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

Warranty

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The NX Series comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire truck and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The Outback’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Lexus’ powertrain warranty covers the NX Series 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Outback. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the Outback ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

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

Reliability

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A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the NX Series’ reliability 21 points higher than the Outback.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus 8th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 23 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Lexus first in reliability, above the industry average. With 30 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Lexus vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Lexus first in reliability. Subaru is ranked fourth.

Engine

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The NX 300h’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder produces 19 more horsepower (194 vs. 175) and 25 lbs.-ft. more torque (199 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The NX 300’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6-cylinder.

As tested in Consumer Reports the NX 300h is faster than the Outback 2.5i:

NX Series

Outback

Zero to 30 MPH

3.3 sec

4.2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

8.9 sec

10.5 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

5.6 sec

6.2 sec

Quarter Mile

16.9 sec

18.1 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

84.6 MPH

81.4 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

On the EPA test cycle the NX 300h gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 2.5i (33 city/30 hwy vs. 25 city/32 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the NX 300 AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 3.6R (22 city/28 hwy vs. 20 city/27 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the NX Series 300h’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 NX Series 300h’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.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the NX Series’ front brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

NX Series

Outback

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.4 inches

The NX Series stops much shorter than the Outback:

NX Series

Outback

60 to 0 MPH

115 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

137 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the NX Series F Sport’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (235/55R18 vs. 225/65R17).

The NX Series F Sport’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The NX Series 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 NX Series offers an optional 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 or off-road. The Outback’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The NX 300h handles at .80 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .76 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The NX 300 AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.2 seconds quicker than the Outback 2.5i Limited (27.2 seconds @ .65 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .57 average G’s).

Chassis

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The NX Series is 7.2 inches shorter than the Outback, making the NX Series easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the NX 300 F Sport AWD is quieter than the Outback 3.6R Limited:

NX Series

Outback

At idle

37 dB

42 dB

70 MPH Cruising

69 dB

69 dB

Cargo Capacity

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Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the NX Series’ optional 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 NX Series’ 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.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Lexus service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Lexus second in service department satisfaction. With a 52% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

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The NX Series’ optional easy entry system raises the steering wheel and 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 NX Series’ 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 NX Series and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the NX Series 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 NX Series’ 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 NX Series the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. (Your Lexus service department must activate this window function.) The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The NX Series’ optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield. The Outback’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The NX Series’ 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 NX Series 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 NX Series 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 NX Series 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 NX Series and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the NX Series 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.

Model Availability

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

Economic Advantages

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According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the NX Series is less expensive to operate than the Outback because typical repairs cost less on the NX Series than the Outback, including $33 less for front brake pads and $98 less for front struts.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2019 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 2019/10/16

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Lexus NX Series and the Subaru Outback, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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