2020 Mercedes E-Class Wagon vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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.

Both the E-Class Wagon and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, 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 and rear cross-path warning.

The Mercedes E-Class Wagon weighs 406 to 709 pounds more than the Subaru Outback. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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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.

Reliability

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To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the E-Class Wagon has a 180-amp alternator. The Outback’s standard 150-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the E-Class Wagon has a standard 850-amp battery. The Outback’s 620-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 12th in initial quality. With 19 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 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 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

Engine

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The E-Class Wagon’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 180 more horsepower (362 vs. 182) and 193 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 176) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The E-Class Wagon’s 3.0 turbo V6 produces 102 more horsepower (362 vs. 260) and 92 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 277) than the Outback XT’s standard 2.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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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.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the E-Class Wagon’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

E-Class Wagon

Outback

Front Rotors

14.2 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

14.2 inches

11.8 inches

The E-Class Wagon stops much shorter than the Outback:

E-Class Wagon

Outback

60 to 0 MPH

108 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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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 Base/Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The E-Class Wagon’s optional tires have a lower 40 series profile than the Outback Onyx Edition XT/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 Base/Premium. The E-Class Wagon’s optional 19-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Onyx Edition XT/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.

Suspension and Handling

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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 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.

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).

The E 450 4MATIC Wagon handles at .90 G’s, while the Outback Limited XT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The E 450 4MATIC Wagon executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.7 seconds quicker than the Outback Limited (25.7 seconds @ .73 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis

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The E-Class Wagon is 8.4 inches shorter in height than the Outback, making the E-Class Wagon much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

Passenger Space

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The E-Class Wagon has standard seating for 7 passengers; the Outback can only carry 5.

Cargo Capacity

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The E-Class Wagon’s cargo area provides more volume than the Outback.

E-Class Wagon

Outback

Third Seat Removed

35 cubic feet

32.5 cubic feet

The E-Class Wagon’s cargo area is larger than the Outback’s in almost every dimension:

E-Class Wagon

Outback

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

46.3”/78.9”

42”/75”

Max Width

43.3”

51”

Min Width

32.2”

43.3”

Height

32.2”

32.1”

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.

Servicing Ease

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The E-Class Wagon uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The Outback uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 41% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

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The E-Class Wagon 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.

Unlike the driver-only memory seat and mirrors in the Outback Limited/Touring, 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 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 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.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the E-Class Wagon to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Outback doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

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/Onyx.

The E-Class Wagon offers optional massaging front seats in order to maximize comfort and eliminate fatigue on long trips. Massaging seats aren’t available in the Outback.

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/Onyx.

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 doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

The E-Class Wagon has a 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, starting, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Outback doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

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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.

Recommendations

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Consumer Reports® recommends the Mercedes E-Class Wagon, based on reliability, safety and performance.

The E 450/E 53 was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 2 of the last 3 years. The Outback has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

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