2011 Subaru Outback Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Subaru Outback Wagon

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Subaru Outback Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 3.6 L Flat 6-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 5-speed Automatic
  • Horse Power 256 hp @ 6000 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 18/25 mpg
  • Bluetooth Yes
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats Yes

Review of the 2011 Subaru Outback

  • The 2011 Subaru Outback is an appealing alternative to conventional wagons and crossovers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious interior, excellent outward visibility, crossover-besting cargo space, comfortable ride, perfect crash scores, commendable off-road performance for a wagon, simple controls on lower trims.

  • Cons

    Lacks agility, numb-on-center steering, poor base stereo, fussy controls on upper trims.

  • What's New for 2011

    A rearview camera is added to the options list for the 2011 Subaru Outback. The 3.6R Limited trim gets standard satellite radio.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (30 total reviews)  |  Write a Review

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Trading in my outback on

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

I've been very satisfied with our 2011 3.6 Limited Outback. But, it's approaching 70,000 miles and at some point it needs to be replaced. They are making changes to the 2015 model including a CVT transmission for the 3.6, six cylinder engine. The '14's still have a 5 speed auto in the 3.6 models. I don't like CVT's so I've decided to trade in a well worn but reliable '11 Outback. With almost 70,000 miles on a 3 year old car, I'm still getting $17,000 in trade for a new one that was discounted nearly 10% from sticker. This will be my third Subaru and I'm very pleased with the brand.

Horrible mistake

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

Bought 3.6R limited with 25,000 miles and have had constant problems with suspension. I have had in dealer 3 times and 2 other shops and no one has a clue. I replaced front shocks as dealer suggested-- of course NOT under warranty. Car still makes clunking noises over small road imperfections and VERY noisy as well . Seats comfortable but made with cheap leather and all interior bits seem slapped together. Got the 6 cylinder because of power and the 4 cylinder with CVT rubber band transmission pathetic-- yet Subaru still somehow succeeds in make the six sound like a 4 cylinder. Can't wait to get rid of it...Never again

Great in the snow

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

I purchased a 2011 Outback Premium new in May, 2011. It now has 52,000 mostly trouble free miles. The only problem was with a power window that would get stuck and the dealer had a difficult time finding the cause. Other than that, it's been very reliable. We live in a ski resort at 8,000 feet and the extra power from the six cylinder engine is well worth it. Even with the bigger engine, we are getting over 25 mpg with a combination of highway and town driving. Styling is subjective, but I think both the exterior and interior are attractive. We have a 100 pound golden retriever who loves riding in the back. I wish it had a little more leg room in front and rear, but it's adequate.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Great car needed better shocks

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

Love this with the 3.6 plenty of power with descent gas mileage 22 combines for 18,000 miles. My only complaint was the soft ride and poor handling. I put KYB gas shock on it and now it handles great and rides nice and firm. (watchout Cayennes) We have taking this car on the LA to Mammoth trek many times to go skiing and have needed the AWD plenty of times and it works great. We can fit 4 adults and a dog for a weekend of skiing if we put the skis and boards on the roof. Ingenious rack system.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

Traded a forester for an

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Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

I bought a Forester 15 months ago when I moved to 8000 feet elevation. The Forester performed flawlessly through 55 feet of snow in a record winter. But, it's four cylinder engine and four speed transmission struggled at this elevation, especially in hilly terrain. And, it was just a bit too small. Since we were otherwise very satisfied, we traded it on an Outback with the 3.6 engine and 5 speed automatic. After 18,000 miles, we traded it for $2500 less than we paid for it and still got a good discount on the Outback. What a difference. The Outback has plenty of power and leg room. The Limited has very nice features. It's a good value compared to similar crossover vehicles.

Right sized

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)

My wife and I are the proud new owners of a 2011 Outback Limited 3.6R. We got it three weeks ago because we were expecting. Baby boy was born last week. We came down to two choices: The Ford Explorer and the Outback. After several test drives in each my wife picked the one I was hoping for. The Explorer was a little to big and while the My Ford touch interface is cool all I could see was something that would break in a year. We live in a city so while you want a good size vehicle you have to be aware that it can be a problem when looking for a place to park and when you trying to get through traffic. It has significantly more room than the other crossovers. Very Happy so far.

Full 2011 Subaru Outback Review

What's New for 2011

A rearview camera is added to the options list for the 2011 Subaru Outback. The 3.6R Limited trim gets standard satellite radio.


The 2011 Subaru Outback is named after a mammoth, flat expanse of Australia filled with red dirt, dingoes and places with names like Woolloomooloo. With its generous ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback would probably be pretty good at dealing with the deserted vastness of the Outback. Here in the United States, though, Subaru's blending of wagon and SUV has become a favorite for those who live in mountainous and/or snowy climates. Yet, because of last year's full redesign, the Outback is now bigger and more comfortable than before, catering better to those who live in a variety of places and climates.

While we lament that this increase in size removed much of the responsive and fun-to-drive nature from the Outback, its massive increase in sales certainly shows that these "big" changes are resonating with the crossover-buying populace. Interior space is of particular note, as there's plenty of headroom, loads of rear seat sprawl space and more cargo capacity than many midsize SUVs. If you can't fit all your cargo inside, adjustable roof rails easily swing inward to serve double duty as cross rails. It's a nifty feature that cuts down on the wind noise and air drag that go along with fixed cross rails.

Despite the Outback's size, the use of high-tensile steel allows it to earn perfect crash scores across the board and keep weight down. In fact, the Outback weighs about 550 pounds less than a Toyota Venza. This certainly makes things easier for the four- and six-cylinder "boxer" engines. Although the latter provides more than enough gusto for those who live in those mountainous places, the four-cylinder's impressive fuel economy when equipped with the optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) should make it the choice for most. Unfortunately, a turbocharged engine is no longer available -- the previous Outback's turbo engine helped compensate for the typical power drop in high-altitude environments.

However, now that the Outback is more crossover than wagon, it does have a greater number of vehicles it must compete with such as the 2011 Chevy Equinox, 2011 Honda CR-V and 2011 Toyota RAV4. There's also Subaru's similarly sized Forester, though the Outback differs with a higher-quality interior, a quieter and more comfortable ride and a more carlike driving position. Should you desire a more traditional wagon with better handling than the big-boned Outback, the Volvo V50 and VW Jetta are good choices.

All are worth a look but in general we're impressed with the 2011 Subaru Outback and think it now appeals to a greater number of people. Whether you live in Woolloomooloo or Walla Walla, Washington, the Outback should be able to tackle whatever Mother Nature or your family throws at it.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2011 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon available in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5 Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6 Premium and 3.6R Limited. Equipment for the 3.6R models generally mirrors that of the respective 2.5i models.

The base 2.5i comes standard with 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, adjustable roof rails and cross bars, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, height-adjustable driver seat and a four-speaker stereo with CD player and auxiliary audio jack. The 2.5i Premium adds 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, rear privacy glass, eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar) and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Optional on the Premium is an All-Weather package that adds heated side mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer and heated front seats. The optional Harman Kardon stereo includes nine speakers, a six-CD changer and Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity. The 2.5i Limited adds the All-Weather package, Harman Kardon stereo, CVT, a four-way power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control and leather upholstery.

Optional on the Premium and Limited models is the Power Moonroof package, which adds a sunroof and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated rearview camera. The Limited can be equipped with a navigation system, which requires the Power Moonroof package and further includes a touchscreen interface, a larger rearview camera display in that touchscreen, a single-CD player and an iPod interface.

Port-installed options include satellite radio on non-Limited trims and a Bluetooth system that plugs into the open dash slot beneath the stereo and relies upon its own small speakers rather than the stereo system.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2011 Subaru Outback has all-wheel drive. The 2.5i models come with a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (a.k.a "boxer") four-cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual is standard on the base and Premium trims, while a CVT is optional on those trims and standard on the Limited. Manual-override shift paddles are included.

In performance testing, the 2.5i with a manual went from zero to 60 mph in 9.4 seconds. With the automatic, EPA estimates are 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined. Sticking with the manual drops those estimates to 19/27/22.

The 3.6R models come with a 3.6-liter flat-6 good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with shift paddles is the only transmission available. EPA fuel estimates are 18/25/20.


The 2011 Subaru Outback comes standard with stability and traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In brake testing, a base 2.5i came to a stop from 60 mph in a longer-than-average 133 feet.

In the government's new, more strenuous crash testing for 2011, the Outback earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and four stars for overall side crash protection.It also achieved the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's top rating of "Good" in its frontal-offset, side and roof strength tests.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2011 Outback's increased size compared to previous models is noticed most inside. With the rear seat lowered, cargo capacity tops out at 71.3 cubic feet, which is a bit bigger than the Ford Edge, Subaru Forester and Toyota Venza. The enlarged backseat makes it a compelling family vehicle, with plenty of legroom and a reclining seatback that make road trips friendlier for those riding in the back.

Compared to the previous-generation Outback, the current edition seems to have slid a bit in terms of interior materials quality and design. There are too many hard plastic trim pieces, but they are at least low sheen and fit well together. One notable advantage is simple, easier-to-use audio and climate controls found on models without the optional navigation system. With navigation, the dash is notably different and is dominated by a large LCD screen that's hampered by fussy controls.

We would highly recommend getting the optional Harman Kardon sound system, as the base four-speaker system offers notably poor sound quality. The HK unit also includes an integrated Bluetooth system.

Driving Impressions

With its increased size and concerted effort to be more of an SUV than a wagon, the 2011 Subaru Outback has lost much of the agility advantage it once possessed compared to crossovers. Noticeable body roll and numb steering reduce the driver's confidence when tackling a winding road. The Outback used to be fun to drive -- this one isn't. However, ride quality is better than ever, sopping up bumps in a sophisticated manner that provides comfort without complete isolation.

The base 2.5-liter engine provides a punchy power delivery around town whether attached to the pleasant manual gearbox or optional CVT, which is one of the best on the market. If you're frequently carrying lots of passengers or cargo, the 3.6-liter six-cylinder is the better choice, and its increased torque is welcome on hilly terrain.

Talk About The 2011 Outback

Read more about the 2011 Subaru Outback

Gas Mileage


  • 18
  • cty
  • 25
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs