2021 Volvo XC40 vs. 2020 Subaru Outback

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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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 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 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.

Both the XC40 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, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems and rearview cameras.

Warranty

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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.

Reliability

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To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the XC40 has a standard 800-amp battery. The Outback’s 620-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

Engine

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The XC40 T4’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 5 more horsepower (187 vs. 182) and 45 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 176) than the Outback 2.5i’s standard 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder.

As tested in Motor Trend the XC40 T5 is faster than the Outback 2.5i 2.5 DOHC 4-cylinder:

XC40

Outback

Zero to 60 MPH

8.2 sec

8.7 sec

Quarter Mile

16.1 sec

16.6 sec

Fuel Economy and Range

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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

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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

60 to 0 MPH

125 feet

132 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

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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 Base/Premium’s standard 65 series tires. The XC40’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 XC40 has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Outback Base/Premium. The XC40’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 XC40 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 track (width between the wheels) on the XC40 is 1.2 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Outback.

The XC40 T5 R-Design AWD handles at .79 G’s, while the Outback Limited XT pulls only .75 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

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The XC40 is 1 foot, 5.1 inches shorter than the Outback, making the XC40 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

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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 .3 inches lower than the Outback’s (18.2” vs. 18.5”).

Cargo Capacity

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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.

Towing

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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 3500 pounds. The XC40 offers up to a 4630 lbs. towing capacity.

Servicing Ease

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The XC40 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 XC40 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 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 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 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 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/Onyx.

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

The XC40 R-Design/Inscription’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

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The XC40 is available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The Outback doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

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 2020/10/25

Consumer Reports® recommends both the Volvo XC40 and the Subaru Outback, based on reliability, safety and performance.

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