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4WD / AWD / SUV comparisons with Subaru Outback


  • AWD/4WD vs 2WD SUV
    • AWD vehicles can accelerate from a standing start with greater traction than a 2WD vehicle as well as providing better traction on slippery surfaces such as wet roads, snow or sand, especially if towing.
    • the cost of AWD over 2WD is price difference and extra weight on power train resulting in reduced fuel economy, typically 0.3-0.6L extra per 100km.
    • a 2WD fitted with tyres designed for snow will probably perform better in snow conditions than an AWD fitted with standard all season tyres or worn tyres - AWD or 4WD only help vehicle gain traction to accelerate in slippery conditions - it is the braking system (such as ABS) and tyres which determine control in turning or braking in these conditions.
  • SUV AWD vs 4WD
    • there is no perfect car for every need
    • AWD cars run in AWD all the time with the electronic system allocating the power to each wheel as needed and thus are great when you find yourself unexpectedly in slippery conditions and is thus primarily a safety system rather than an off-road system. The constant shifting of power between wheels is not ideal for difficult terrain, and most AWD systems aren’t as robust or durable as a 4WD setup in those situations.
    • Subaru full time AWD powers the centre diff which then powers the front and rear axle so that the rear can get to 70% of the torque if needed.
    • Many other AWDs power the front axle first which limits the rear axle to a maximum of only 40% of the torque.
    • “On-demand AWD” such as Toyota Kluger runs in front wheel 2WD by default but automatically changes to AWD as needed and this can give better fuel economy than a full time AWD system
    • 4WDs designed for off road use generally give equal power to each of the wheels in 4WD mode and are typically based upon 4WD utes with truck chassis
      • eg. Mitsubishi Pajera is based on the Mitsubishi Triton ute
    • 4WD is usually on heavy truck chassis vehicles designed for towing or going off road and these generally are in 2WD rear wheel mode for highway use (for less wear and tear, better efficiency, and cornering) and then you can switch to either 4WD High (better traction at higher speeds in slippery conditions such as gravel roads or firm sand) or 4WD LOW gear modes (for soft sand, deep mud, snow, steep terrain, or slow rock crawling). In most 4WDs you can switch from 2H to 4H without stopping, but still have to come to a complete stop to switch from 4H to 4L. 4WD mode should NOT be used on dry bitumen especially on corners - this could be dangerous if power train becomes bound and locks up!
    • Many 4WD vehicles allow optional or aftermarket locking and limited-slip differentials take the power distribution one step further by sending an equal amount of the axle’s available torque to both wheels. Locking differentials make both wheels spin at the same speed at all times which is helps when traversing rugged or swampy terrain. However a fully locked diff makes them unsuitable for dry-road travel due to binding when turning. Limited slip differentials offer a compromise by automatically providing increased torque distribution when needed – although they stop short of fully “locking” – without affecting on-road driving characteristics.
    • There are also plenty of aftermarket equipment available for 4WDs – suspension upgrades, snorkels and more – to further boost their off-road capabilities.
    • if you want to tow vans you probably should go for a diesel 4WD which has plenty of torque
    • if you live in remote areas or really want to go off-road on rough rocky/steep tracks, you probably should go for a diesel 4WD which has plenty of torque and off-road credentials (ground clearance, good approach/depart angles, truck chassis ruggedness)
      • eg. Toyota Prado, Ford Everest, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT50, Mitsubishi Pajero
    • if you only plan to go on relatively easy gravel roads, go for an AWD SUV with reasonable ground clearance because this will give you a MUCH more comfortable and safer drive on highways with lower centre of gravity, and will be easier around town and in shopping centre car parks (esp. those with turning circles less than 11m) as well as being more economical to run in the city
      • Subaru XV/Forester/Outback; Toyota Kluger; Toyota RAV4;
  • hybrid electric
    • whilst they may be cheaper to run when re-fuelling how much better they are for the environment is debatable as you need to manufacture then dispose of the batteries
    • these generally have older type Nickel hydride batteries which get charged whilst you are driving and which provide torque at low revs for nicer driving at low speeds and on start as well as reducing fuel consumption, but they generally have lower power than most petrol engines
      • eg. Toyota Kluger hybrid
  • plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV)
    • as for hybrid but use AC/DC-chargeable lithium batteries 9.8kWh charge (7hrs at 10A 2400W AC or 30min on DC fast charge) which allow around 54km travel on electricity only so have a fuel engine as well although this is generally low powered (eg. 94kW/199Nm) and really needs the electric motors to supplement it so not great for camping when there is no access to AC power; your 200W camping solar panels are not going to charge these batteries!
    • whilst they may be cheaper to run when re-fuelling how much better they are for the environment is debatable as you need to manufacture then dispose of the batteries PLUS currently they need to be charged by electricity largely created from burning fossil fuels (this is also an issue with the hydrogen cars of the future)
    • furthermore, the current lithium batteries do not function well at temperatures over 50degC and risk exploding and thus require a cooling system, and they do not charge well at under 0degC.
    • newer battery technologies will need to be developed such as solid state lithium batteries (these can run at much higher temperatures and are lighter but currently are 8x more expensive and degrade far more quickly - Toyota and Panasonic are working on addressing this)
  • battery electric vehicles (BEV)
  • fuel economy
    • this is usually better with hybrid electric or turbo engines and worse with 6 cylinder engines
  • torque
    • rotational force of the engine in turning the drive shaft
    • torque (Nm) = force (Newtons) x length of lever to rotate (metres)
    • important for:
      • acceleration from start (need high torque at lower RPM)
      • towing loads (need high torque at lower RPM)
      • steep inclines (need high torque at low RPM)
      • overtaking (need high torque at high RPM)
      • allow lower RPM for same power
    • electric motors have a very flat toque curve
    • the 2006 3L 6cyl Subaru Outback has a relatively flat torque vs RPM curve esp. from 3000-4500 and thus the power curve is essentially linear increase in proportion to RPM up to max at 6000 RPM
      • torque is a little lower at 2200-3000 and at 5000-6000 RPM and significantly lower below 2200 RPM
    • heavy vehicles need a lot of torque at low RPM hence the preference for diesel engines in these
  • engine power
    • power (kW) = torque (Nm) x revs per second (RPM/60)
    • max engine power is the prime determinant for a vehicle's max. speed and this can be a limiting factor when loaded
    • thus you can increase power by either increasing engine torque or RPM
    • gearing will change the amount of torque to the wheels
    • type of fuel may minimally affect max power eg. Premium petrol vs std petrol
      • main advantage of premium-grade petrol is that it allows automakers to advertise a few more horsepower by designing and tuning engines to take advantage of premium's anti-knock properties but using regular petrol only results in a minimal ~5% power loss.
      • using Premium (91 Octane or higher) in a car designed for regular will NOT add increased power.1)
  • roof capacity
    • most have a load limit of 80kg driving (pods often have a limit of 50kg) and stationary load as in sleeping in a roof tent of ~320kg
      • Ford Everest Titanium with all glass roof
      • Subaru Outback (although crossbars rated at 68kg)
      • Mits Pajero
      • Discovery
    • some have lower limits:
      • Jeep Cherokee 68kg
      • Toyota HiLux / Kluger 75kg
    • some have higher limits:
      • Ford Everest 100kg (excl. Titanium model)
      • Patrol 100kg
      • Amarok 100kg
    • a roof load increases the height of the centre of gravity and increase risk of roll overs etc
    • driving on corrugated roads may increase the effective weight stress from 80kg to around 600kg!2)
  • boot capacity
    • small boots:
      • Subaru XV, Toyota RAV 4, etc
    • medium boots:
      • Subaru Forester, Nissan X-Trail
    • large boots:
      • Subaru Outback, most 4WDs (the 7 seaters need to have the 3rd row at least folded down)


car 2018 Outback 6cyl Ford Everest Ambiente Ford Ranger 4x4 XLT Toyota Kluger / Highlander Toyota Prado
type full time AWD 2WD/4WD truck 2WD/4WD truck on-demand AWD 2WD/4WD truck
engine 6cyl 3L petrol 5 cyl 3.2L turbo diesel 2L turbo diesel / 3.2L diesel 2.5L hybrid / 3.5L petrol 2.8L turbo diesel
transmission CVT / 5sp 8sp? 10sp / 6sp CVT / 8sp 6sp
power 180kW @6600rpm 143kW@3,000rpm 157kW / 147kW 184kW / 218kW @6000 150kW @3000
power/500kgloadweight 0.08kW/kg 0.05 0.06 w/o canopy 0.07 / 0.088 0.054
torque 297 Nm @4200rpm 470Nm@1,750-2,500rpm 500Nm / 470Nm 242Nm / 350Nm @4700 500Nm@1600-2800
fuel combined ~9-10L/100km 8.5L/100Km 7.4 / 8.7 5.6 / 8.9 7.9
kerb weight 1660 kg 2384kg 2085kg+canopy 2045kg / 1970kg 2300kg
length 4729mm 4903mm 5446mm 4966mm 4995mm
width 1770mm 1869mm 1977-2163mm 1930mm 1885mm
height 1544mm 1837mm 1821mm 1755mm 1890mm
clearance 201mm (213mm in 2021) 227mm 237mm 200mm? 219mm
approach angle 18.5deg 29.5deg 29deg 18deg 30.4 degrees
depart angle 22.7deg 25deg 21deg 23deg 23.5 degrees
breakover angle 20deg 21.5deg 21.1 degrees
turn circle 11m 11.7m 12.7m 11.4m 11.6m
comments 2022 turbo 4cyl same power, faster 0-100kph under 6secs, and better economy however not in Aust yet opt: 2L bi-turbo diesel 156kW/500Nm 7L/100km; 2020: smoother driving, nicer cams, more expensive, better towing capacity, but not as good offroad as Outback new engine; less body roll than older models; tends to belly out through deeper wheel ruts with a higher crest in the middle; Needs better off-road tyres; 2020 model is only 130kW/450Nm; Some have a defective diesel particulate filter;
new price AWD, sat nav: 4cyl2021 $50K Ambiente $55K; Trend $62K; Sport $66K; Titanium $80K GXL: $70K / $67K Grande: $83K / $81K GXL: $74K VL: $85K Kakadu: $96K

ranking by power to loaded mass ratio for highway driving:

power/500kgload econ comb turning circle rear storage length height issues
Toyota Kluger 3.2L 0.088 8.9L 11.4m 529L 4966mm 1755mm nice road, poor offroad
Jeep Cherokee TrailHawk 0.084 10.4L 11.6m 4651mm 1724mm low roof limit 68kg!, turn circle, fuel economy
Outback 4cyl turbo 0.08 5-6L/100km 11m 522L 4870mm 1670mm N/A Aust; 5.7secs;
Outback 6cyl 0.08 9-10L/100km 11m 522L 4870mm 1670mm discontinued; 7.1secs
Toyota Kluger 2L turbo 0.07 5.6L 11.4m 529L 4966mm 1755mm nice road, poor offroad; 8.4secs; $78-84K;
Forester 4cyl std 0.067 5-6L/100km 10.8m 498L 4640mm 1730mm boot space
Outback 4cyl std 0.065 5-6L/100km 11m 522L 4870mm 1670mm sluggish; 9.1secs
XV 4cyl std 0.06 5-6L/100km 10.8m 310L 4485mm 1615mm boot space
Everest turbo 0.054 7L/100km 11.7m 498L 4903mm 1837mm turn circle, sluggish, heavy
Pajero GLS turbo 0.05 8L/100km 11.2m 673L 4825mm 1835mm sluggish 11.3secs!, poor road handling, nice off-road;

comparison with 2019-2020 model 6cyl 3.6L Outback

comparison with 4cyl 2.5L Outback

comparison with Subaru Forester

  • boot too small for camping with car fridges?
  • whilst the Subaru Forester is a better off road vehicle thanks to slightly higher ground clearance, better approach/departure/ramp angles, better visibility, lighter, smaller, more nimble and less expensive, the Outback has more room being 45mm wider and 220mm longer which adds to the luggage space and is not as high making it easier to have bikes on the roof.
  • 2.5L 4cyl 136kW/239Nm or 2L 4cyl hybrid 110kW/196Nm
  • power/500kg loaded: 0.067 (0.052 for hybrid) sluggish especially if loaded
  • 4640mm long
  • 1815mm wide
  • 1730mm high
  • 220mm clearance
  • turning circle 10.8m
  • 1524kg (1604kg hybrid)
  • 498L rear storage
  • $40K-$46K (hybrid)
  • don't bother with the hybrid!

comparison with Subaru XV

  • boot too small for camping with car fridges
  • 2.0L 4cyl 115kW/196Nm or 2L 4cyl hybrid 110kW/196Nm
  • power/500kg loaded: 0.06; sluggish especially if loaded
  • 4485mm long
  • 1800mm wide
  • 1615mm high
  • 220mm clearance
  • turning circle 10.8m
  • 1429kg (1536kg hybrid)
  • 310L rear storage (345L hybrid) - Dometic 45L fridge has to go sideways in boot as depth is about 10cm to short
  • $32K-$35K (hybrid)

Toyota Kluger

  • 2.5L turbo petrol hybrid:
    • CVT instead of 8sp auto; 142kW/242Nm but combined with electric is 184kW
    • 5.6L/100km comb.
  • 3.5L V6 petrol
    • 218kW/350Nm 8sp; 8.8-8.9L/100km comb;
  • GXL adds:
    • roof rails, power back door, 8-way adj. heated seats with lumbar support for driver, synthetic interior instead of fabric, 7“ screen not 4.2”, back guide monitor on rev. camera, sat nav.
  • Grande adds:
    • moonroof (opt. slide), better LED headlamps, kick sensor rear door, retractable sunshade 2nd row, ventilated seats and driver seat memory, premium interior, ambient lighting, Electrochromatic interior rear view mirror, head up display, panoramic view monitor, 5 extra speakers, 20“ ChromeTec wheels instead of 18” alloy;

comparison with Kia Sorrento DCT

  • slightly smaller than Kluger and slightly less econ than Kluger hybrid
  • DCT models are the AWD versions
  • 2.2L 4cyl 148kW/440Nm 8sp turbo diesel = power/500kg loaded: 0.06;
  • 3.5L V6 200kW/ 332Nm 8sp petrol
  • 1908kg
  • 4810mm long
  • 1900mm wide
  • 1700mm high
  • but only 176mm clearance
  • poor turning circle 11.6m
  • 616L luggage 5 seats

comparison with 2018 Mazda BT50 4x4 3.2L dual cab

  • 5 cylinder turbo diesel auto
  • Locking Rear Differential (LRD)
  • Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
  • Hill Descent Control (HDC)
  • Max power: 147kW@3,000rpm
  • Max torque: 470Nm@1,750-2,500rpm
  • economy: combined 10L/100Km;
  • tyres: 255/70 R16 or 265/65 R17 depending on model
  • wheels: 16×7.0J or 17×7.5J depending upon model
  • very poor turning circle 12.4m
  • clearance 232mm unladen, 200mm laden
  • wheelbase 3220mm
  • front/rear track 1560mm/1560mm
  • 5373 mm long x 1850 mm wide x 1815 mm high
  • approach angle 28deg
  • departure angle 26deg
  • ramp breakover angle 24deg
  • weight: 2036kg
  • max. weight: 3200kg

comparison with Ford Everest Ambiente 5 seater

  • 5 cylinder 3.2L turbo diesel 6sp auto
  • electronic Locking Rear Differential (LRD)
  • Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
  • Hill Descent Control (HDC)
  • Max power: 143kW@3,000rpm
  • Max torque: 470Nm@1,750-2,500rpm
  • economy: combined 8.5L/100Km;
  • tyres:
  • wheels: 17“ alloy
  • turning circle 11.7m
  • clearance 227mm unladen
  • wheelbase 2850mm
  • front/rear track 1560mm/1564mm
  • 4903 mm long x 1869 mm wide x 1837 mm high (30cm taller than Outback so no roof pod will fit in my garage)
  • approach angle 29.5deg
  • departure angle 25deg
  • ramp breakover angle 21.5deg
  • weight: 2384kg
  • max. weight: ?kg
  • $60,371 drive away
    • roof carry bars $507 roof platform $924
    • batwing awning $966 or sunseeker $425
    • snorkel $1460
    • towpack $1584
  • bi-turbo 2L Sport version starts at $70,060 driveaway but gets 7 seats, 157kW, 500Nm, 7L/100km

Jeep Cherokee

  • 3.2L Pentastar V6 petrol 9sp AWD
  • 200kW
  • 315Nm 2200kg braked towing
  • 8.1L/100km hway 9.8L/100km combined (touch worse for TrailHawk)
  • 7.5secs for 0-100kph (8.5 in TrailHawk)
  • 1806kg (1889kg Trailhawk)
  • roof luggage rack wt limit 68kg!!
  • turning circle 11.6m
  • length 4651mm
  • width 1859mm (1904mm TrailHawk)
  • height 1683mm (1724mm TrailHawk)
  • clearance 185mm (221mm TrailHawk)
  • approach 18.9deg (29.9deg TrailHawk)
  • depart 25deg (32.2deg TrailHawk)
  • breakover 19.5deg (22.9deg TrailHawk)
  • wading depth 480mm
  • Hill Start Assist
  • sat nav in standard L
  • sunroof in S-Limited/Trailhawk
  • Trailhawk adds off-road capabilities:
    • Jeep Active Drive Lock 4×4 System
    • mechanical rear axle lock and Selec-Terrain® Traction Management Rock Mode
    • Off-Road Suspension with Raised Ride Height
    • Two Speed Power Transfer Unit
    • Front tow hooks
    • Hill Descent Control
    • underbody skid plates, all weather floor mats
    • 17” wheels instead of 18“
  • $52K-$53.5K for Trailhawk or S-Limited

Jeep Compass TrailHawk

Jeep Wrangler

  • turning circle 12.4m

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS 4WD (not 2WD version)

  • 2.4L turbo diesel 8sp
  • based on the Triton Dual Cab
  • 133kW/430Nm = 0.05kW/loaded = sluggish but otherwise not bad specs
  • 8L/100km
  • 0-100kph 11.3secs and noisy!
  • L 4825 x W1815 x H 1835
  • 11.2m turning circle
  • approach 30deg depart 24.2deg ramp 23.1deg clearance 218mm ford depth 700mm
  • max roof load 80kg
  • 673L boot capacity
  • 2045kg
  • don't get GLX - get GLS or Exceed to get the better driver assist and safety features, assist for the very heavy tailgate, better seats
  • GLS adds 7 seats; sat nav; rear diff lock
    • deluxe GLS further adds leather seats, multi around monitor
  • EXCEED version
  • GSR version - black rook, rails, alloy wheels $64K
  • nice off-road but poor road handling and very sluggish 3)
  • far better than the Outback for serious off-road and for towing
  • interior not as nice as Outback
  • “ugly, boring and unrewarding to drive – with a cramped interior and suspension that is only good for the bare minimum. The driveline feels like a lawnmower connected to a giant rubber band, and rear visibility is worse than a porthole in rough seas. The third row of seats only folds flat when the second row is tumbled forward, which means it’s not as flexible as other vehicles in this segment. Needs firmer shock absorbers installed if heavy loads” ((
  • “At slow speeds, you need a lot of steering wheel input to get the desired ‘yawing’/turning response from the vehicle. It feels like a bit of a truck, which it is. The seat is quite low, relative to the floor, so your legs poke forwards rather than down, and the driving position is reasonably cramped - the top of the screen is close to your head, and the cockpit itself is a bit squeezy, side to side. Silver trims reflects the sun right back into your face from seemingly every angle, and as such it constitutes something of an ergonomic failure as well as scratching easily.”
australia/awd_comparisons.txt · Last modified: 2022/08/18 22:30 by gary1

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