The Outback is a raised wagon with standard all-wheel drive that serves as a smart alternative to more traditional SUVs. The current model doesn’t stray from its successful formula. It is a comfortable, functional vehicle that’s well suited for every day commutes and weekend adventures. Its size and capabilities allow the Outback to compare favorably with small and midsize SUVs.
The Outback has a solid feel, with a very comfortable ride that outshines some luxury SUVs. The elevated ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive help make the Outback ready to tackle light off-road duties. Handling is responsive and secure. We were impressed with its performance in our accident avoidance maneuver.
The standard 182-hp, 2.5-liter engine does the job and gets good fuel economy, but that engine becomes loud under duress. The uplevel turbocharged 260-hp, 2.4-liter engine (denoted as XT in trim names) transforms the Outback, granting it effortless punch and a quieter demeanor. The CVT faithfully mimics traditional gear shifts, and the turbo power masks some of the common quirks, such as revs rising much quicker than the speed, found with that type of transmission. We got 24 mpg overall with the XT on regular gasoline. A Legacy (the Outback's sedan counterpart) we also tested with the standard, non-turbo engine returned 28 mpg overall.