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Subaru Outback

  • Road Test
  • Predicted Reliability
  • Predicted Owner Satisfaction
An SUV alternative, the Outback is roomy and functional, and appeals to the practical-minded buyer. It rides very comfortably, with secure handling and standard AWD. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder returns 24 mpg overall and drives through a standard continuously variable transmission. A stronger and thirstier 3.6-liter six-cylinder transforms the car, making it quicker and quieter. The controls are easy-to-use, including the touch-screen infotainment system. The wagon's generous rear seat is spacious enough for three adults. The generous cargo area is comparable to an SUV's, with a lower loading height to boot. The optional EyeSight safety suite adds automatic emergency braking. For 2018 the Outback is less jumpy when accelerating from a stop, and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility are standard.
All Ratings & Reliability
2015 Redesign Year
Subaru Outback 2017
Subaru's popular Outback, a station wagon version of the Legacy, gained some welcome refinement with its 2015 redesign. Roomy and spacious, the interior is nicely finished and Subaru's StarLink touchscreen infotainment system finally delivers contemporary levels of connectivity. It rides very comfortably and handling is plenty responsive and secure. Traction from the standard all-wheel-drive system is reassuring. Acceleration from the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is adequate, but you won't win any races. We measured 24 mpg overall, beating most mid-sized SUVs. Unlike previous Outbacks, a manual transmission is no longer offered. Power from the 3.6-liter six-cylinder is more effortless; expect 22 mpg overall. Generous outward visibility along with a standard backup camera and optional blind spot monitoring helps make the Outback easy to drive. Crash-test results are impressive, and the EyeSight suite of advanced safety gear includes forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking; we recommend getting this system.
Average Retail Price Trade-in Price Reliability Verdict Owner Satisfaction View Local Inventory
2017 $24,025 - $28,350 $20,950 - $25,200
2016 $21,075 - $27,425 $18,050 - $24,300
2015 $18,775 - $23,875 $15,750 - $20,750
2010 Redesign Year
Subaru Outback 2014
An extensive 2010 redesign brought major changes to Subaru's practical all-wheel-drive wagon version of their Legacy sedan. Considerably larger than before, interior space grew to include a rear seat that can comfortably fit three adults, and the cabin became quieter. Cargo space and driver visibility are both generous. A new continuously variable transmission (CVT) notably improved fuel economy; we measured 24 mpg overall with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The 3.6-liter six-cylinder is smoother and quicker, at the expense of about two mpg. A manual transmission is also available on more basic trims. Ride quality was impressive, but handling became less crisp, and the car was a handful in our emergency maneuver. A 2013 update helped handling, but the Outback lost its cushy ride comfort in the process. That update also introduced Subaru's EyeSight suite of advanced safety equipment, including forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. We suggest getting this feature, but it was only optional on high-trim models. A built-in roof rack is clever, but lash-down flexibility is limited; this improved slightly after the update.
Average Retail Price Trade-in Price Reliability Verdict Owner Satisfaction View Local Inventory
2014 $16,275 - $20,875 $13,290 - $17,790
2013 $13,550 - $17,550 $10,660 - $14,510
2012 $10,975 - $14,625 $8,155 - $11,630
2011 $9,875 - $12,850 $7,080 - $9,950
2010 $8,325 - $11,500 $5,610 - $8,625
2005 Redesign Year
Subaru Outback 2009
More agile handling and nicer interior quality marked the Outback's 2005 redesign. Practical and sure-footed in snowy weather, thanks to standard all-wheel-drive, the Outback is a Legacy with added ground clearance and a slightly raised roof. Thin roof pillars and large windows make for easy outward visibility. Ride comfort is impressive, but cabin noise can be annoying, particularly with the four-cylinder. Everyday handling is responsive, though the car can slide its tail out in emergency maneuvers. For many years, only 3.0 VDC versions got standard electronic stability control; this spread slowly to other trims, with all Outbacks finally getting this desirable safety feature by 2009. Fuel economy is mediocre; we measured only 21 mpg overall from the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder with an automatic. Acceleration with this combination is adequate, but nothing more. Turbocharged XT models feel very powerful, while the 3.0-liter six-cylinder adds smoothness and quiet refinement; expect only 19 mpg overall on premium fuel with the six. The sedan version was dropped after 2007. Front seats are comfortable and controls are easy to use. Later model years gained a telescoping steering wheel. Cargo area is generous, with a flat load floor after folding the rear seats.
Average Retail Price Trade-in Price Reliability Verdict Owner Satisfaction View Local Inventory
2009 $7,325 - $9,825 $4,630 - $6,995
2008 $6,650 - $8,275 $3,980 - $5,540
2007 $5,900 - $7,325 $3,280 - $4,630
2006 $5,150 - $7,225 $2,575 - $4,540
2005 $4,625 - $6,275 $2,080 - $3,645
Subaru Outback 2004
Essentially a Legacy with more ground clearance and a higher roof, Subaru's Outback is a popular SUV alternative. Standard all-wheel-drive is a plus on slippery roads. While most Outbacks are wagons, a sedan version was also available. The ride is steady and absorbent, and other than some wind noise, it is relatively quiet inside. Nicely weighted steering aids handling, but it doesn't feel as crisp as the Legacy. The rare and pricey 3.0 VDC model has a stability control system that marginally improves the otherwise twitchy emergency handling. Acceleration is relatively poky from the standard 2.5-liter four -- expect 20 mpg overall with the automatic. The 3.0-liter six is smoother and quicker.
Average Retail Price Trade-in Price Reliability Verdict Owner Satisfaction View Local Inventory
2004 $4,050 - $5,375 $1,620 - $2,785
2003 $3,700 - $4,825 $1,265 - $2,165
2002 $3,550 - $5,000 $1,300 - $2,500
2001 N/A N/A
2000 N/A N/A