The 2021 Subaru Outback Review Killed the 2021 Toyota 4Runner Review on Consumer Reports

by Gabrielle DeSantis

The value of preference when it comes to car buying cannot be overstated. This gets even more exaggerated when it comes to choosing between SUVs. When trying to choose the best SUV between the 2021 Subaru Outback and the 2021 Toyota 4Runner, preference is a major part of the process. However, Consumer Reports certainly has its thoughts. CR’s 2021 Subaru Outback review killed the 2021 Toyota 4Runner review.  

Subaru Outback | Subaru

The 2021 Subaru Outback review shows one of the best SUVs on the market

Consumer Reports loved the 2021 Subaru Outback. The Outback review earned the Subie an overall score of 86/100. This is a mighty strong score for the segment, but it shouldn’t be too surprising. Subaru has been on a roll lately, making small and capable SUVs that many people love. 

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner review proves the 4Runner is a Toyota through and through. Even though the 4Runner is pretty outdated and clunky, even Consumer Reports couldn’t help but be charmed – but the charm wasn’t enough. 

CR gave it an overall score of 64/100. Even though the Toyota is incredibly tough and beloved by most owners, the outdated and clumsy ride was tough for CR to get over. 

The 2021 Toyota 4Runner couldn’t hang with Subaru Outback

Toyota 4Runner in the forest
2021 Toyota 4Runner | Toyota

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The 4Runner is a long-standing fan favorite among some of the best SUVs ever made. However, Consumer Reports couldn’t care less about things like that. The 4Runner is undeniably loveable, but it is hard to make a case for when you take the subjectivity out of it. 

Consumer Reports notes that even though mechanically it is hard to find any fault, the 4Runner review can’t be honest without dealing with the fact that the ride and nearly every cabin appointment feels old, clumsy, and like an under-delivery given the price which starts at $36,765.

On the other hand, the 2021 Subaru Outback review shows a very different type of SUV that has many drivers very satisfied. The Subaru gives a lot of the off-road attitude and a decent amount of the same performance as the 4Runner.

Although the 4Runner will ultimately go farther off-road, the Subaru has the whole package for $10,000 cheaper than the 4Runner starting price. 

Which is the best SUV? 

The Subaru Outback XT on display at an auto show
Subaru Outback XT | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

For something in the $40,000 range, the ride and fit and finish of the Toyota should be a little more thoughtful. CR describes the ride as “Soft springing masks road bumps pretty well at low speeds, but body motions are constant and grow wearing. Even mild braking provokes nosedive. The highway ride is OK, but even pavement flaws make the body bob.”

The Subaru is ready to strike back and capitalize on the 4Runner’s weakness. The Subaru Outback takes full advantage of its more squat stature and can rail through corners in a way most 4x4s could only dream of. CR says it has minimal body roll and has quick and direct steering. 

The interior follows suit and adds to the overall vibe of a tough, spartan, and ultimately over-priced SUV for the 2021 Toyota 4Runner. The seats are firm but tough; the dash and most surfaces are hard and plastic. There are few examples of refinement or luxury or any kind.

The 2021 Subaru Outback also follows suit and offers a well-designed, thoughtful, and comfortable interior. It is modern and useful while still being pretty rugged. Everything about the Outback feels more refined and thoughtful than its competitor. 

Thankfully for any Toyota fans, the 2021 Toyota 4Runner is still a badass, class-leading off-roader that can hang with the best of them. It is rugged, strong, and fully capable. If only the road performance were even similar to the off-road performance, we’d have a true GOAT in the 4Runner. 

The 2021 Subaru Outback is a killer. Unlike the 4Runner, the Outback is not only good in one aspect; it is solid across all metrics. It is more comfortable, better on fuel, more refined, smarter, and easier to live with day-to-day, which is why Consumer Reports named it the best SUV in its segment.

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