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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 Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid has a standard Secondary Collision Brake, which automatically applies 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 Highlander Hybrid (except LE/XLE) offers an optional Bird’s Eye 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 Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid 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, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive and daytime running lights.
The Toyota Highlander Hybrid weighs 428 to 971 pounds more than the Subaru Outback. The NHTSA advises that heavier vehicles are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.
Toyota pays for scheduled maintenance on the Highlander Hybrid for 2 years and 25000 miles. Toyota will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Outback.
There are almost 2 times as many Toyota dealers as there are Subaru dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the Highlander Hybrid’s warranty.
J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Toyota vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota 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 Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Toyota second in reliability, above the industry average. With 28 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.
From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Toyota vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Toyota third in reliability. Subaru is ranked 7th.
The Highlander Hybrid’s 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder hybrid produces 68 more horsepower (243 vs. 175) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.
On the EPA test cycle the Highlander Hybrid AWD CVT gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 2.5i CVT with its standard engine (35 city/35 hwy vs. 25 city/32 hwy).
Regenerative brakes improve the Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid’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.
For better stopping power the Highlander Hybrid’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:
For better traction, the Highlander Hybrid has larger tires than the Outback (235/65R18 vs. 225/65R17).
The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’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.
For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Highlander Hybrid LE/XLE has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’s 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.
For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Highlander Hybrid’s wheelbase is 4.1 inches longer than on the Outback (112.2 inches vs. 108.1 inches).
For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Highlander Hybrid is 3.5 inches wider in the front and 3.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.
The Highlander Hybrid has standard seating for 8 passengers; the Outback can only carry 5.
The Highlander Hybrid has 33.2 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Outback (141.3 vs. 108.1).
The Highlander Hybrid has .4 inches more front headroom, 1.7 inches more front hip room, .9 inches more front shoulder room, .5 inches more rear headroom, 2.9 inches more rear legroom, 2 inches more rear hip room and 1.4 inches more rear shoulder room than the Outback.
The Highlander Hybrid’s cargo area provides more volume than the Outback.
Third Seat Folded
48.4 cubic feet
Third Seat Removed
35.5 cubic feet
Second Seat Folded
84.3 cubic feet
73.3 cubic feet
To make loading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum’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.
The Highlander Hybrid’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Outback’s (3500 vs. 2700 pounds).
The power windows standard on both the Highlander Hybrid and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid 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. (This window function must be activated by your Toyota service department.) The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.
The Highlander Hybrid Platinum’s standard 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.
Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the Highlander Hybrid to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Outback doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.
The Highlander Hybrid’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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum 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 Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum 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 Highlander Hybrid 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 Highlander Hybrid and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the Highlander Hybrid 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.
To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid XLE/Limited/Platinum has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Outback doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.
The Highlander Hybrid Limited/Platinum 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 Highlander Hybrid is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.
The Toyota Highlander outsold the Subaru Outback by 35% during the 2019 model year.
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