2020 Volvo XC40 vs. 2019 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Volvo XC40 have pretensioners to tighten the seatbelts and eliminate dangerous slack in the event of a collision and force limiters to limit the pressure the belts will exert on the passengers. The Subaru Outback doesn’t offer pretensioners for the rear seat belts.

The XC40’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.

Both the XC40 and Outback have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The XC40 offers optional power child safety locks, allowing the driver to activate and deactivate them from the driver's seat and to know when they're engaged. The Outback’s child locks have to be individually engaged at each rear door with a manual switch. The driver can’t know the status of the locks without opening the doors and checking them.

The XC40 has standard Automatic Braking After Collision, which automatically apply 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 XC40 offers an optional 360-Degree Surround 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 XC40’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 XC40 and the Outback have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact 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 blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The XC40 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.

The XC40’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Outback’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the XC40 for 3 years and 36,000 miles. Volvo will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Subaru doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Outback.

Engine

The XC40 T4’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 12 more horsepower (187 vs. 175) and 47 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 174) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4 cyl. The XC40 T5’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 11 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 247) than the Outback 3.6R’s standard 3.6 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the XC40 T5 is faster than the Outback 3.6R:

XC40

Outback

Zero to 60 MPH

6.2 sec

6.9 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16.4 sec

17.8 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

7 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

95 MPH

94 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the XC40 T5 AWD gets better fuel mileage than the Outback 3.6R (22 city/30 hwy vs. 20 city/27 hwy).

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the XC40’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 XC40 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 XC40’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

XC40

Outback

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

11.9 inches

11.8 inches

The XC40 stops shorter than the Outback:

XC40

Outback

70 to 0 MPH

173 feet

180 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

129 feet

Motor Trend

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

135 feet

147 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the XC40 has larger standard tires than the Outback (235/55R18 vs. 225/65R17). The XC40’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (245/45R20 vs. 225/65R17).

The XC40’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 55 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The XC40’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Outback Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the XC40 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback 2.5i/2.5i Premium. The XC40’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 18-inch wheels on the Outback Limited/Touring.

Suspension and Handling

The XC40 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 XC40 has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The XC40’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.

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the XC40 is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 1.8 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

The XC40 T5 R-Design AWD handles at .85 G’s, while the Outback 3.6R Limited pulls only .79 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The XC40 is 1 foot, 3.7 inches shorter than the Outback, making the XC40 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The front step up height for the XC40 is 1.3 inches lower than the Outback (17.7” vs. 19”). The XC40’s rear step up height is .8 inches lower than the Outback’s (18.2” vs. 19”).

Cargo Capacity

Pressing a switch automatically lowers the XC40’s optional 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 XC40’s available liftgate can be opened and closed just by waving your foot, 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

The XC40’s standard towing capacity is much higher than the Outback’s (3500 vs. 2700 pounds). Maximum trailer towing in the Subaru Outback is only 2700 pounds. The XC40 offers up to a 4630 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

The XC40 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 power windows standard on both the XC40 and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the XC40 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 XC40’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 XC40 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 also lower the windows the same way. The driver of the Outback can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The XC40’s power window, power lock, power mirror and cruise control switches are lit from behind, making them plainly visible and easier to operate at night. The Outback’s passenger power window switches are unlit, making them difficult to find at night and operate safely.

The XC40’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 nozzles are optional on the XC40 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Outback doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The XC40 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Outback doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The XC40’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 XC40 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.

Both the XC40 and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the XC40 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 Volvo XC40 offers an optional wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. The Outback doesn’t offer wireless personal charging.

The XC40’s optional Park Assist Pilot 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 XC40 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 XC40 is less expensive to operate than the Outback because it costs $462 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost less on the XC40 than the Outback, including $54 less for a starter and $113 less for front struts.

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

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