2011 Subaru Outback Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2011 Subaru Outback Wagon

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Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is a category of used car. Often late-model vehicles, they have been inspected, refurbished, if necessary, and are under warranty by the manufacturer.
Subaru Outback Features and Specs

Features & Specs

  • Engine 2.5 L Flat 4-cylinder
  • Drivetrain All Wheel Drive
  • Transmission 6-speed Manual
  • Horse Power 170 hp @ 5600 rpm
  • Fuel Economy 19/27 mpg
  • Bluetooth No
  • 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.

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.

Introduction

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.

Safety

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.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews



My last subaru

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

My 2011 Subaru has had one problem after another. Last month the manifold cracked and it was an $800 repair. This month a sensor went bad in the transmission - $1300! If Subaru has these known quality problems, they should at least help out with the repair costs. They said this sensor part alone costs $800, I'm sure it doesn't cost a tenth of that to make. Not only is the quality bad, but they won't work with their loyal customers on the cost of repair. I am not loyal anymore. (Not to mention they still have not fixed the head light blowing problem I had on my 2005 Outback)



1 of 1 people found this review helpful

This ain't the subaru that

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

Their rep. is maintained by fans. Subaru is no longer the "outback" vehicle of choice. If you live in an area that requires chains, forget it. The AWD with standard all-weather tires is the best you're going to get if you have to drive to see snow. There is no room for chains, cables or belts! Required in SoCal! This has been a piece of junk. CVT trans (for improved economy) is weak for its weight, esp. in reverse where it has stalled on inclines multiple times. The electronics are in the dark ages. I've regretted buying this heap for a long time: Transmission problems have been long-lasting, cooling system issues at 40k and factory-installed alarm/shock sensor is beyond useless.




I waited 60k miles before

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

We bought it new...its had 2 recalls on it since new I believe. I replaced the front rotor and pads at 57k only because the rotors warped. The car is great...the factory tires stink...I swapped to Hankook and like them. I cant say anything bad about our subie...well yes the handling sucked when it was new and I put the rear sway bar on and now its great!. Soft ride...ok fuel numbers... I will not sell it as long as this keeps up. It can climb a Mtn in the snow...hard to believe...



1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Trading in my outback on

by on
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.




This car is unsafe and

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr Wagon AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

I purchased a year old outback with 17,000 miles in excellent condition. Shortly after while driving with my wife in the passenger's seat the air bag off indicator light was on. It's sometimes on and some times off. My wife weights about 120lbs well above 102lbs limit. The car also has rust forming under the lip of the rear hatch door. Subaru refuses to cover the rust repair and says the air works as designed. This is a serious safety issue. They said they fixed it in the 2012 model. There solution was to sell me a new car. Wow this company sucks! We bought this car for its reported safety, what a joke. My wife and daughter are nervous when sitting in the front seat




Horrible mistake

by on
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



Talk About The 2011 Outback

2011 Subaru Outback Discussions See all Started By

massgg
massgg
03-14-2011
From official brochure, Rear Vision Camera must come with moonroof and only available in Premium and Limited, but official brochure doesn't mean reality sometimes. For example, dealer said they can a?...


aodhanloki
aodhanloki
12-14-2010
I purchased a 2011 Subaru Outback two months ago without seeing the specific vehicle (I had test driven the exact same model for ~45 minutes in all different driving conditions) and I've been experien...


mcrob427
mcrob427
12-14-2010
I bought a new 2011 Outback about 3 weeks ago, and I have around 1500 miles on it....



Read more about the 2011 Subaru Outback

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Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

  • 19
  • cty
/
  • 27
  • highway
Calculate Yearly Fuel Costs
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