Compare Subaru Outback vs Ford Explorer

The everyday, commonplace SUV experience is getting tired. You're looking for something new and exciting. A traveler in the rugged, tried, and true tradition of a wagon, perhaps, but with all the technological advancements and amenities of a modern crossover. For these, you needn't look any further than the new Subaru Outback.

Discover How Subaru Outback Excels its Ford Explorer Rival Here in North Franklin, CT

In a gamut of trims spanning from 2.5i and 2.5i Premium to the luxurious 2.5i Limited and Touring, all the way to the high-performance 3.6R Limited and Touring, our crossover SUV makes the grade across the board for any outdoor enthusiast. That's especially the case against mid-size sport-utilities like the new Ford Explorer and its base, XLT, Limited, Sport, and Platinum lineup. The new Outback offers better multi-terrain, all-weather capability, with an edge on maneuverability; it's more economical with fuel, superiorly capable out the gate for trailering, safer, and better equipped technologically in-cabin. Best of all, it's far more affordable. But don't take our word for it alone. See for yourself why and how right here in North Franklin!


In the latest outback, the Subaru commitment to your drive-time security is on prominent display, from your driveway to the off-grid and back home again. It excels Ford Explorer in key areas.

EyeSight® Driver Assist Technology as well as Blind-Spot Detection with Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert come available as early in the lineup as 2.5i Premium and later. That means the ability to safely distance yourself from other vehicles in congested Hartford traffic, remain in-lane and on course, and steer clear of potential accidents, all while remaining situationally aware. The new Explorer offers available adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, and a Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert starting with its XLT trim. But where Outback makes its offerings standard in Touring trims, in the comparable Explorer Limited trim, they're still only available.

Secondly, Outback makes available a suite of STARLINK Safety and Security connected services, incorporating remote functionality from Automatic Collision Notification and SOS Emergency and Enhanced Roadside Assistance to Stolen Vehicle Recovery, diagnostic, security and other abilities. The SOS Post-Crash Alert System in the new Explorer doesn't have this functionality.

Finally, though both vehicles might receive a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Outback gets a 2018 TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the IIHS when equipped with EyeSight® tech and available Steering Responsive Headlights. Ford Explorer is rated only Marginal by the institute for driver-side crashworthiness as well as merely Basic for front crash prevention and Poor for headlights -- nowhere near the safety authority's top accolade.

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At 290 horsepower, the 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 built into Ford Explorer might offer more power than the 175-horsepower 2.5-liter, four-cylinder SUBARU BOXER engine under the Outback hood. However, Ford pays severely for it in a few major ways.

For one, Outback gets much better fuel economy, delivering up to an EPA-estimated 25 mpg in cities like our Middletown neighborhood and 32 mpg on the highway. Explorer makes possible only up to 17 mpg and 24 mpg respectively. But put the Subaru engine into perspective, and we're sure you'll agree further that Outback stays far ahead of its rival.

First, our automaker's flat-four structure, unlike that of Ford, incorporates pistons that move laterally. Secondly, the engine works in tandem with permanent, always-on Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, which uses moving parts than Ford and comes standard from base to apex trim. Third, it dovetails with a standard wheel slip-reducing X-MODE® and the cornering prowess of Active Torque Vectoring.

The result is clear: low noise, minimal vibration, and reduced harshness, impeccable balance, dramatic torque steer reduction, precision handling, and a solid grip both on the road and across nearly any landscape. Ford Explorer offers its intelligent four-wheel drive (4WD) only as an option, and it requires an equally optional Terrain Management System to adapt to ground conditions. Outback is even more maneuverable in tight spaces, with a 36.1-foot turning circle to Explorer's 39.2 feet.

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As staying in command of myriad functionality for that weekend outing to Norwich is concerned, Outback likewise gains the upper hand. The Subaru tradition of technological forward-thinking is writ large in the STARLINK 6.5-inch Multimedia infotainment system that comes standard in Outback 2.5i, showcasing entertainment perks like Pandora and Aha app integration and Bluetooth. Ford's base-model SYNC® system weighs in at only 4.2 inches and it lacks in functionality, with no Bluetooth to speak of.

Outback keeps up its lead with graduation to the second Outback 2.5i Premium trim, too. It brings a sizable STARLINK 8.0-inch Multimedia Plus system with cloud-based apps like Yelp, iHeart Radio, optional Magellan navigation, an HD Radio, and more. You'll have to ascend to Explorer's third Limited trim to gain an 8-inch SYNC® 3 system. Also, whereas Outback builds in Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard from the get-go, simplifying extending your smartphone's features to control in-dash, the same compatibility isn't available in the new Explorer until that Limited trim. Neither is built-in navigation -- it's available in Outback as early as 2.5i Premium, but for Ford Explorer, you'll still have to reach Limited.

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Cargo Space

Anyone heading into the bush for an off-road getaway or extended camp-out in scenic hotspots like the gorgeous New London area knows that the room to sprawl out is important. Ditto for that in which to pack a boatload of swag. Subaru Outback has you covered here from hold to towing capacity, and well beyond Ford Explorer. To wit, our crossover's minimum cargo volume, a generous 35.5 cubic feet, surpasses Explorer's 21.0. The same goes for hauling, as Outback lets you take up to 2,700 pounds in tow, whereas Explorer base models can handle only up to 2,000. Sure, you can tow up to 5,000 pounds in other Explorer trims, but this requires significant investment, in either the SUV's optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost® engine or the available Class III Trailer Tow Package.

And let's not forget that Outback includes roof rails with integrated tie-downs and retractable cross bars standard, with a low-profile design in Touring trims and a 150-pound maximum capacity. None of this is offered in Ford Explorer.

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The new Subaru Outback isn't just a spec sheet on wheels. It's highly recognized and well-regarded by authorities throughout the automotive industry. The proof is by the numbers. For one, Outback retains value over the life of ownership better than any other 2018 vehicle in its class, according to the analytics division of TrueCar Inc., ALG. Secondly, based on IHS Markit registrations in the US, our Subaru wagon remains the best-selling all-wheel drive CUV in its class, just as it has for the past 10 years, with 98% sold during the period still on the road today. Of course, that's not to mention that it's the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class likewise, by EPA estimates.

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Want to Learn More About the Outback?

Eager to check out the many other ways Subaru Outback pulls ahead of not only its Ford Explorer rival but also the other competition among new SUVs here in North Franklin, CT. Get in touch with us here at Holmgren Subaru to schedule a test drive, or just stop by and visit us here at 3 New Park Avenue in town, and we'll be delighted to give you the grand tour!

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