2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The V90 Cross Country’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 V90 Cross Country and Outback have child safety locks to prevent children from opening the rear doors. The V90 Cross Country has 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 Volvo V90 Cross Country offers optional built in child booster seats. They’re more crash worthy than an added child seat because of their direct attachment to the seat. Subaru doesn’t offer the convenience and security of a built-in child booster seat in the Outback. Their owners must carry a heavy booster seat in and out of the vehicle; V90 Cross Country owners can just fold their built-in child seat up or down.

The V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country offers an optional 360° Camera 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 V90 Cross Country’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 V90 Cross Country 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, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

The Volvo V90 Cross Country weighs 433 to 736 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 V90 Cross Country 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.

The V90 Cross Country’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the Outback’s (12 vs. 5 years).

Volvo pays for scheduled maintenance on the V90 Cross Country 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.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the V90 Cross Country has a standard 800-amp battery. The Outback’s 620-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the V90 Cross Country is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the V90 Cross Country’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The Outback’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

Engine

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The V90 Cross Country’s 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder produces 134 more horsepower (316 vs. 182) and 119 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 176) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder. The V90 Cross Country’s 2.0 turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder produces 56 more horsepower (316 vs. 260) and 18 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 277) than the Outback XT’s standard 2.4 turbo 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the Volvo V90 Cross Country is faster than the Outback 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder:

V90 Cross Country

Outback

Zero to 60 MPH

6.5 sec

8.7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.8 sec

16.6 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

93.7 MPH

86.1 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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Regenerative brakes improve the V90 Cross Country’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The Outback doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The V90 Cross Country 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.

Environmental Friendliness

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In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volvo V90 Cross Country higher (7 out of 10) than the Subaru Outback (3 to 7). This means the V90 Cross Country produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the Outback every 15,000 miles.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the V90 Cross Country’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Outback:

V90 Cross Country

Outback

Front Rotors

13.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.6 inches

11.8 inches

The V90 Cross Country stops shorter than the Outback:

V90 Cross Country

Outback

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the V90 Cross Country has larger standard tires than the Outback (235/50R19 vs. 225/65R17). The V90 Cross Country’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Outback (245/45R20 vs. 225/65R17).

The V90 Cross Country’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Outback Base/Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The V90 Cross Country’s optional 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 V90 Cross Country has standard 19-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback Base/Premium. The V90 Cross Country’s 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 V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country’s wheelbase is 7.7 inches longer than on the Outback (115.8 inches vs. 108.1 inches).

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the V90 Cross Country is 3.3 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than the track on the Outback.

The V90 Cross Country T6 handles at .84 G’s, while the Outback Limited XT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The V90 Cross Country T6 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2 seconds quicker than the Outback Limited (26.4 seconds @ .68 average G’s vs. 28.4 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Passenger Space

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The V90 Cross Country has .9 inches more front hip room and .9 inches more rear hip room than the Outback.

Cargo Capacity

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A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the V90 Cross Country easier. The V90 Cross Country’s trunk lift-over height is 26.8 inches, while the Outback’s liftover is 28.4 inches.

The V90 Cross Country’s cargo area is larger than the Outback’s in almost every dimension:

V90 Cross Country

Outback

Length to seat (2nd/1st)

45.4”/78.3”

42”/75”

Min Width

43.3”

43.3”

Pressing a switch automatically lowers or raises the V90 Cross Country’s rear seats, to make changing between cargo and passengers easier. The Outback doesn’t offer automatic folding seats.

Servicing Ease

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The V90 Cross Country 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.

Ergonomics

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The V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country offers an optional passenger memory, so that when drivers switch, the memory setting adjusts the driver’s seat and outside mirror angle and the front passenger seat also adjusts to the new passenger’s preset preferences.

The V90 Cross Country 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 power windows standard on both the V90 Cross Country and the Outback have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country’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 V90 Cross Country the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. 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 V90 Cross Country’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 V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country has standard headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Outback doesn’t offer headlight washers.

Manual rear side window sunshades are available in the V90 Cross Country to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Outback doesn’t offer rear side window sunshades.

The V90 Cross Country’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 V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country 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 V90 Cross Country and the Outback offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the V90 Cross Country 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.

To quickly and conveniently keep personal devices charged without cables tangling and wearing out, the Volvo V90 Cross Country has a standard wireless phone charging system (Qi) in the center console. Wireless charging costs extra on the Outback and isn’t available on the Outback Base.

The V90 Cross Country 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.

The V90 Cross Country’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.

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

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