2021 Hyundai Tucson vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/30

The Tucson Limited/Ultimate has a standard Surround View Monitor to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Outback only offers a rear monitor.

Compared to metal, the Tucson’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Subaru Outback has a metal gas tank.

Both the Tucson 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, daytime running lights, blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

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The Tucson comes with a full 5-year/60,000-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 2 years and 24,000 miles sooner.

Hyundai’s powertrain warranty covers the Tucson 5 years and 40,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the Outback. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles. Coverage on the Outback ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

The Tucson’s corrosion warranty is 2 years longer than the Outback’s (7 vs. 5 years).

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

There are over 31 percent more Hyundai dealers than there are Subaru dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the Tucson’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates rated the Tucson first among compact SUVs in their 2020 Initial Quality Study. The Outback isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2020 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Hyundai vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 10th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 34 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 27th, 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 Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Hyundai 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 14th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2019 Auto Issue reports that Hyundai vehicles are more reliable than Subaru vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Hyundai 1 place higher in reliability than Subaru.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Hyundai Tucson higher (5 to 7 out of 10) than the Subaru Outback (3 to 7). This means the Tucson produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Outback every 15,000 miles.

The EPA certifies the Hyundai Tucson as a “Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle” (PZEV). The Subaru Outback is only certified to “Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” (SULEV) standards.

Brakes and Stopping

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The Tucson stops much shorter than the Outback:

Tucson

Outback

60 to 0 MPH

118 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the Tucson Sport’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (245/45R19 vs. 225/65R17).

The Tucson SE/Value’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Base/Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The Tucson Sport’s tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Outback Onyx Edition XT/Limited/Touring’s 60 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Tucson Sport has standard 19-inch wheels. The Outback’s largest wheels are only 18-inches.

Suspension and Handling

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The Tucson 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 better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the Tucson is 1.4 inches wider in the front and .9 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Outback.

The Tucson SE handles at .82 G’s, while the Outback Limited XT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The Tucson Limited AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the Outback Limited (27.1 seconds @ .64 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the Tucson’s turning circle is 1.2 feet tighter than the Outback’s (34.9 feet vs. 36.1 feet).

Chassis

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The Hyundai Tucson may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 200 to 350 pounds less than the Subaru Outback.

The Tucson is 1 foot, 2.9 inches shorter than the Outback, making the Tucson easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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The Tucson has .1 inches more front hip room and .1 inches more rear headroom than the Outback.

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

Ergonomics

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The Tucson Value/SEL/Sport/Limited 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 power windows standard on both the Tucson and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Tucson 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 Tucson Ultimate’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.

Model Availability

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The Tucson 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 Tucson is less expensive to operate than the Outback because it costs $218 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the Tucson than the Outback, including $39 less for a water pump, $16 less for front brake pads, $98 less for a starter, $119 less for a fuel pump, $151 less for front struts and $315 less for a timing belt/chain.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 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 2020/10/30

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Hyundai Tucson, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Subaru Outback isn't recommended.

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