2006 Subaru Outback Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2006 Subaru Outback Wagon

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Subaru Outback Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 175 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 20/26 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2006 Subaru Outback

  • Solid all-terrain capability, nimble handling, a varied engine lineup and a luxurious interior make the 2006 Subaru Outback an excellent all-weather family vehicle. If you're thinking of buying a traditional SUV, you may find this Subaru car a better fit.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Standard all-wheel drive, generous standard equipment list, exemplary build and materials quality, strong power from turbo and H6 engines, balanced ride and handling dynamics, capable performance off-road.

  • Cons

    Automatic transmission upshifts too early, desirable features restricted to top-line VDC model, smaller backseat than most competitors.

  • What's New for 2006

    A navigation system has been added to the options list for 2006, and trim levels have been realigned. Non-turbo four-cylinder models get a bump in horsepower (now up to 175) thanks to a new variable valve-lift system.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

Dependable workhorse

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Our family has been running this Outback for almost four years. We put a little over 50K miles on it, with probably 30K of daily commute and 10K of annual ski trips. Subarus are usually praised for their AWD, but in the first couple of winters I had some skidding incidents (shouldn't have pressed the gas pedal so carelessly on tight turns! This is a manual transmission car, so not all of the fancy electronic stabilization systems are available). Once that has been figured out, we found ourselves working as a snow taxi for our friends in a small Midwestern town. I was disappointed with the fuel economy at first (it was clearly below the nominal rating), but then it somehow got better.

We don't need no stinkin'

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

My first Subaru was a 2000 Limited Wagon. Had no trouble at all with it, except the automatic transmission never seemed to downshift when I thought it should. Now have the 2006 Outback wagon, and love the redesign both inside and out. Have 5 speed manual transmission in this car and love it. If you know how to drive a manual transmission, get it in this car as you can do way better than the 0 - 60 on the automatic transmission. This car is lots of fun to drive, and hugs the road even though it sits rather high up. I feel very safe in it in all weather. I get approx 27 mpg combined in this car with normal driving, but it can really move with the 5 speed manual if you need it to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Excellent vehicle

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Traded my 92x for the 2.5I with Navigation; I've had it a few weeks and love it. Vehicle is very solid, absolutely hugs the road and rides much smoother than I expected. It feels safe as a tank, and already I'm getting 27-28 mpg on the highway. The navigation system is cool, the guy has a slight Australian accent. You won't win any drag races with this car, but it is more than adequate for every day life on the highway. I had a car with 227 hp before and found it was an utter waste; great I can floor it for 3 seconds before I have to stop again in traffic. Thinking of an SUV but worried about gas, check this car out, you won't be disappointed. You will save on insurance too, very low risk.

Nice car!

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

This was my first Subaru since my 85 GL Wagon. It came down to a choice between the Sube and a Honda CR-V EX AWD. I chose the Sube because of its superior AWD system and better towing capacity, while the Honda had an advantage in interior space. So far, after 3000 miles but no winter driving, I'm pleased. I'm averaging 25-26 mpg. I get 30 mpg on the highway at 65 with the A/C on, or at 70 with it off; mileage decreases to about 26 at 80 mph. Trip computer mileage estimate is optimistic by about 2 mpg. Plenty peppy with manual transmission, but revs are high - almost 2700 rpm at 60 mph. I just hope that Subaru hasn't strayed too far from its roots - who really needs expensive 55-series tires?

Love this car!

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

I traded in a 1999 Forester for this car and I love it! I looked at the 2006 Foresters and found the seats to be too uncomfortable. This Outback is much more comfortable, with better features (side curtain airbags, dual A/C control) than the LL Bean Forester. The clutch and shifting is much smoother than my 1999 car. Having power in the armrest allows me to use my iPod my more than ever before (I keep the adapter plugged in all the time). Overall, I'm happy with the purchase.

Nice alternative to an suv

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Vehicle: 2006 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl 5M)

Just purchased an Outback Limited and have been pleasantly surprised. We also own a Pilot, but with the manual transmission, leather, and huge sunroof, I look forward to driving. The fuel economy averages 26 in the city and about 29-30 on the highway. I've gotten as high as 31 but it's dependent on how you drive. Also, there's plenty of room in the back seat for rear facing car seats (only two can be installed) or for passengers. Leg room is excellent. The handling is great for any car, not to mention an SUV.

Full 2006 Subaru Outback Review

What's New for 2006

A navigation system has been added to the options list for 2006, and trim levels have been realigned. Non-turbo four-cylinder models get a bump in horsepower (now up to 175) thanks to a new variable valve-lift system.


We've been fans of the Outback since its inception. Little did Subaru know that back in 1995, when the Japanese automaker introduced a gussied-up Legacy Wagon called the Outback, that it was about to revolutionize the way Americans thought of sport-utility vehicles. Essentially a trim package that included gray trim, white-lettered tires and a catchy name, the Subaru Outback became a phenomenon in 1996 after it was billed "The World's First Sport-Utility Wagon." That's the year Subaru raised the suspension, added large headlight-size foglights and boosted power.

Although an excellent alternative to SUV ownership, the Outback began to lose its edge as more and more manufacturers added kinder, gentler crossover SUVs to their lineups. By the early years of the 21st century, Subaru's heavy-duty wagon was surrounded by a population of car-based SUVs that could do most of what it did, while offering more room for growing families. So for 2005, the Outback underwent a full redesign during which it slimmed down, powered up and slipped into some more stylish digs.

Like the Legacy, the Subaru Outback takes on a sleeker, more angular look this year, but it has a more aggressive grille, raised hood strakes and, on the wagon, dark tinted rear glass. Additionally, Subaru decided that buyers were no longer so enthusiastic about the "just in from the woods" aesthetic of the original Outbacks, so all models wear black-letter tires instead of the expected white-letter sidewalls. In spite of its more upscale look, the Subaru Outback is actually more rugged than ever before. Ground clearance ranges from 8.4 to 8.7 inches depending on the model you choose -- previously, the tallest Outback stood just 7.9 inches off the ground.

Inside, the cockpit has a much more cohesive look along with a classy two-tone ensemble. Meanwhile, there's some big news under the hood. A modified version of the WRX STi's 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque has joined the lineup. Models with this engine are an intriguing alternative to the pricey H6. It has torque and an available manual transmission, and it's the faster of the two and an obvious choice for weekend enthusiasts. For those who prefer the smoothness of six cylinders, the H6 motor picks up variable valve timing and lift this year so that it, too, is up to 250 hp. For those on a budget, Subaru will continue to offer a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine as well.

The 2006 Subaru Outback is a wagon with no equal when it comes to off-road capability and, with a powerful engine lineup and sharp reflexes on pavement, you'll find it fun to drive even when the weather isn't terrible. A small backseat will keep it from competing with larger-capacity SUVs, but for the family of four looking for stylish transportation for all seasons, it could be a perfect fit.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The Subaru Outback is available as a wagon or sedan. Wagons come in 2.5i, 2.5 XT, 3.0 R, 3.0 R L.L. Bean and 3.0 R VDC Limited. Limited Packages are available on 2.5i and 2.5 XT models. The sedan comes in a single L.L. Bean trim. The 2.5i models include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, a CD player, a power driver seat, cruise control, trip computer and a rear limited-slip differential. Opt for the Limited package and you'll get heated leather seats, a wiper de-icer, a CD changer, dual-zone automatic climate control and dual moonroofs. Upgrade to the 2.5 XT and you get 17-inch wheels, bigger brakes, sport seats and a Momo steering wheel; order the Limited Package to get leather upholstery and the moonroofs. The base 3.0 R model is equipped much like the XT, while other 3.0s come with a full load of luxury amenities, plus a tire-pressure monitor, steering wheel audio controls and mahogany trim. The L.L. Bean model offers perforated leather upholstery, while the VDC wagon is your ticket to stability control and an upgraded stereo. A navigation system is also standard on the VDC; it's optional on the XT and L.L. Bean.

Powertrains and Performance

The 2.5i model is powered by a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. The 2.5 XT upgrades to a 2.5-liter turbocharged engine with 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The 3.0 models come with a 3.0-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder (H6) good for 250 hp and 219 lb-ft of torque. Either 2.5-liter engine can be equipped with a five-speed manual transmission. A four-speed automatic is available on 2.5i models while 2.5 XT models get a five-speed auto. The H6 is only available with the five-speed automatic.


All Outback models have four-wheel antilock disc brakes with EBD, front-seat side-impact airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active head restraints. Stability control is reserved for the top-line 3.0 R VDC Limited wagon.

Interior Design and Special Features

Inside, the Subaru Outback has a clean design with high-quality materials. Turbo models have darker interiors with metallic trim and electroluminescent gauges, while 3.0 models get matte-finish wood grain trim on the console that matches the real mahogany trim on the steering wheel. The seats are supportive, but the backseat is a bit tight for adults. Wagons provide 33.5 cubic feet of capacity behind their rear seats; 66 cubes with the seats folded.

Driving Impressions

Out on the road, the 2006 Subaru Outback rides smoothly and feels surefooted in the corners. Taken off-road, it can scamper up a rutted hillside with more gusto than just about any crossover SUV. Although the base engine provides only adequate power, acceleration is quick with either the turbo four or the H6. Unfortunately, the Outback's automatic transmissions still leave much to be desired, as they sap power by upshifting too early.

Talk About The 2006 Outback

Gas Mileage


  • 20
  • cty
  • 26
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs