2020 Lexus RX Series vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The RX Series offers an optional Panoramic View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback only offers a rear monitor.

Both the RX Series and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, 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.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, with its optional front crash prevention system, and its available headlight’s “Acceptable” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the RX Series the rating of “Top Pick” for 2018, a rating granted to only 104 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The Outback has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

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

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the RX Series first among midsize premium suvs in their 2019 Initial Quality Study. The Outback isn’t in the top three in its category.

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 RX 350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 113 more horsepower (295 vs. 182) and 92 lbs.-ft. more torque (268 vs. 176) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The RX 350’s 3.5 DOHC V6 produces 35 more horsepower (295 vs. 260) than the Outback XT’s standard 2.4 turbo 4 cyl. The RX 450h’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6 hybrid produces 48 more horsepower (308 vs. 260) than the Outback XT’s standard 2.4 turbo 4 cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

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On the EPA test cycle the RX Series gets better fuel mileage than the Outback:

MPG

RX Series

AWD

450h 3.5 DOHC V6

31 city/28 hwy

Outback

AWD

2.4 Turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/30 hwy

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

Brakes and Stopping

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

RX Series

Outback

Front Rotors

12.9 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

13.3 inches

11.8 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the RX Series has larger tires than the Outback (235/65R18 vs. 225/65R17).

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

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the RX Series has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback Base/Premium. The RX Series’ optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Onyx Edition XT/Limited/Touring.

Suspension and Handling

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The RX Series 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 or off-road. The Outback’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The RX Series has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The Outback doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the RX Series’ wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer than on the Outback (109.8 inches vs. 108.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the RX Series is 2.6 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

Passenger Space

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The RX Series has 1.3 inches more front legroom, 1.1 inches more front hip room, 1.3 inches more rear hip room and .2 inches more rear shoulder room than the Outback.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the RX Series’ rear seats recline. The Outback’s rear seats don’t recline.

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 RX Series has a standard remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The climate system will also automatically heat or cool the interior. The Outback doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

The RX Series 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 RX 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 rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

If the windows are left open on the RX 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. The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The RX Series’ 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.

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

The RX 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/Onyx.

The RX 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/Onyx.

Both the RX Series and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the RX Series has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The Outback doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The RX Series 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.

Model Availability

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

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 the Lexus RX Series, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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

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