Finding a 2-row SUV that stands out in the crowd can be tricky. Two unique offerings are the 2021 Subaru Outback and the 2021 Toyota Venza. Here’s how they compare.
2021 Subaru Outback
Above Average: Standard AWD; off-road capable; lots of ground clearance.
Below Average: Start-stop could be more seamless; CVT causes the engine to drone under load; no hybrid option.
Consensus: The 2021 Subaru Outback is a smart, practical alternative to sedans and SUVs alike because it offers tons of cargo space and enough ground clearance to handle offroading.
2021 Toyota Venza
Above Average: Fuel economy; standard all-wheel drive; good standard safety features.
Below Average: Single engine choice; limited off-road capability; no plug-in hybrid; limited cargo space.
Consensus: Brand new but with an old name, the 2021 Toyota Venza is a handsome, well-equipped midsize crossover with hybrid power and standard all-wheel drive. There is only one choice of engine and transmission, however, and while competent, the handling is far from sporty.
Outback vs. Venza: Standard AWD Showdown
The Outback is Subaru’s best-selling model, and it’s no wonder why. With standard all-wheel drive, plenty of ground clearance, and looks that land somewhere between wagon and SUV, the Outback makes it a fantastic all-around vehicle.
Subaru revamped the Outback in 2020, and buyers have a choice between a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine that makes 182 horsepower or a turbocharged 2.4-liter that makes 260 horsepower and plenty of torque. For our money, we’d go with the turbocharged version. The Outback comes with all-wheel drive as standard. Inside, the interior is upscale and comfortable with quality materials.
All-new for 2021, the Toyota Venza is a midsize 2-row hybrid SUV. It is sized between the compact RAV4 and the larger, 3-row Highlander. Make no mistake, this is not the Venza of old, which resembled a wagon and was discontinued in 2015.
The hybrid drivetrain of the Venza is the same as in the RAV4 hybrid, combining a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and two electric motors, driving all four wheels. With a good seating position and excellent visibility, the Venza driving experience is similar to its brothers, with the electric motors providing a nice boost of acceleration when needed, and the steering being precise and the brakes strong.
There are better choices if you want a sportier drive, but the 2021 Venza is a good companion in both the city and on the highway. While it’s not meant to be an off-roader, the Venza does have standard AWD, inspiring confidence on slippery roads.
Standard AWD; 5-passenger seating; NHTSA 5-star safety.
2021 Subaru Outback Advantages
Offroad capability; ground clearance; optional turbo power.
2021 Toyota Venza Advantages
Hybrid fuel economy; stylish looks; reputation for quality.
Which One is right for me?
The 2021 Subaru Outback has an established reputation further enhanced by its standard AWD, good ground clearance, and off-road capability.
The 2021 Toyota Venza is a svelte-looking SUV that offers exceptional fuel economy thanks to its standard hybrid powertrain that also features AWD.
|2021 Subaru Outback||2021 Toyota Venza|
|Engine||2.5-liter I4||2.5-liter I4 hybrid|
|Horsepower||182 hp @ 5,800 rpm||219 hp @ 5,700 rpm|
|Torque||176 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm||163 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||29 mpg (26 city/33 hwy)||39 mpg (40 city/37 hwy)|
|Also Available||2.4-liter turbo I4|
|Basic warranty||3 years/36,000 miles||3 years/36,000 miles|
|Powertrain warranty||5 years/60,000 miles||5 years/60,000 miles|
|NHTSA Overall Safety Rating||5 stars||5 stars|
|Max Seating Capacity||5||5|
|Wheelbase||108.1 inches||105.9 inches|
|Overall Length||191.3 inches||186.6 inches|
|Width||82.0 inches||73.0 inches|
|Height||66.1 inches||65.9 inches|
|Turning Diameter||36.1 feet||36.1 feet|
|Headroom, Front||40.1 inches||38.6 inches|
|Headroom, Rear||39.1 inches||39.0 inches|
|Legroom, Front||42.8 inches||40.9 inches|
|Legroom, Rear||39.5 inches||37.8 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Front||58.1 inches||57.4 inches|
|Shoulder Room, Rear||57.4 inches||56.9 inches|
|EPA Passenger Volume||109.0 cubic feet||98.3 cubic feet|
|EPA Cargo Volume||75.7 cubic feet||55.0 cubic feet|
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