2012 Subaru Outback Wagon Review | Edmunds.com

2012 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 No
  • Navigation No
  • Heated Seats No

Review of the 2012 Subaru Outback

  • The 2012 Subaru Outback is an appealing alternative to conventional wagons and crossovers.

  • Safety
  • Pros

    Spacious interior; excellent visibility; comfortable and composed ride; strong crash scores; commendable off-road performance for a wagon; simple controls on lower trims.

  • Cons

    Lacks agility; poor base stereo; fussy controls on upper trims.

  • What's New for 2012

    The 2012 Subaru Outback's Premium trim level gets a new standard sound system with an iPod interface and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming capability. A new nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is now part of the Premium model's options list.

What Others Are Saying

Customer Reviews

  Average Consumer Rating (130 total reviews)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Trading in my outback on

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback

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

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

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

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback

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.




Still ok, but here to

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback

My 2011 outback has almost 36,000 miles. Several pieces of plastic have broken on the interior--all covered on the warranty. But now I that I have reached the millage limit, I may be on the hook for these irksome repairs. Also, the battery hold down bars are corroding. I brought it up to the dealer, and the technician acted as if it was a mystery, and nothing to worry about. However, my 2004 legacy must've had the same problem, as the battery holder corroded completely and needed replacement after about 60,000 miles. That cost me almost $200 at the dealer! That's all to report for now.




Believe it or not the

by on
Vehicle: 2011 Subaru Outback

I have owned two Subaru's...a 2011 OUtback wagon (4 cylinder w/CVT) and a 2009 Forester. Both cars were made with cheap plastic, had alot of rattles, transmission issues, and the darned muffler guard had to be tightened every 3 months or so. All of these items were apparently part of the regular joy of owning a Subaru and were not seen as requiring a recall fix. After owning the Outback for 18 months, I just had enough of having to take it back to the dealer to get things tightened up. I traded that car in for a 2013 Edge and have been EXTREMELY happy with it. The only issue with the Edge it to make sure to get the Scotchguard on it if you get cloth interior. Ford Edge rules!



Gas Mileage

EPA-Rated MPG

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

Full 2012 Subaru Outback Review

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Subaru Outback's Premium trim level gets a new standard sound system with an iPod interface and Bluetooth phone and audio streaming capability. A new nine-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is now part of the Premium model's options list.

Introduction

Like most all-wheel-drive crossovers, the chances are pretty slim that many 2012 Subaru Outbacks will ever traverse places as wild and remote as its Australian namesake. That reality does nothing to diminish this rugged wagon's appeal, however.

Key to the Outback's allure are its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and surprisingly capable all-wheel-drive system. While it's not designed for serious off-roading, this midsize wagon will let you explore graded fire roads and snow-clogged streets with confidence. The fact that this capability is balanced with civilized ride and handling means the Outback is one of the more well-rounded family movers out there. Its strengths are completed by a pair of horizontally opposed engines — a fuel-efficient four-cylinder and a gutsy flat-6.

The Outback's attractive and spacious interior is another plus. There's plenty of head- and legroom even in the rear seat, while a generous cargo hold and a clever roof rack with fold-out crossbars make the Outback a practical alternative to larger crossovers. As if this weren't enough, strong crash test scores add a healthy dose of peace of mind.

If you're looking for a traditional wagon, there are surprisingly few alternatives. The Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen is similarly priced, but considerably smaller. The Volvo XC70 is similarly sized, but considerably more expensive. Inevitably, the Outback will likely be cross-shopped against other popular crossovers, including the Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Honda CR-V and Nissan Murano. We think the 2012 Subaru Outback makes a strong case for itself against these, offering a great balance of utility, capability and refinement.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2012 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon that's offered in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6 Premium and 3.6R Limited. The numbers refer to engine displacement.

The entry-level 2.5i's list of standard equipment includes 16-inch steel wheels, automatic headlights, roof rack rails with fold-out crossbars, full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, air-conditioning, cloth upholstery, a height-adjustable driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 60/40-split-folding and reclining rear seats, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. Options here include an Alloy Wheel package that includes 16-inch alloy wheels and foglights, and an All Weather package that adds heated front seats, heated mirrors and a windshield wiper de-icer.

The 2.5i Premium model gets you a number of desirable extras, including 17-inch alloy wheels, foglights, body-color mirrors, rear privacy glass, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a cargo cover, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming capability and a six-speaker sound system with an iPod/USB audio interface. Available options include the All-Weather package and a Power Moonroof package that includes (beyond the obvious) a rearview camera. Models with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) can also be had with a nine-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system with a 4.3-inch LCD screen, satellite radio and HD radio.

Step up to the 2.5i Limited and you get the CVT automatic standard, as well as dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery and wood trim, a four-way power passenger seat, the contents of the All-Weather package and the above-mentioned Harman Kardon audio system. The options list here is short, consisting of the Power Moonroof package and a navigation system with an 8-inch display, voice controls and a rearview camera.

The standard and optional equipment for the 3.6R models are very similar to those of the corresponding 2.5i trim levels. There are a few exceptions, though, as all 3.6R models get a six-cylinder engine, larger brakes and a five-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The base 3.6R also differs from the base 2.5i by adding 17-inch alloy wheels, a cargo cover and rear privacy glass.

Powertrains and Performance

The all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback is offered with one of two different engines. Under the hood of 2.5i models is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder that produces 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual and a CVT. EPA fuel economy estimates for this engine are 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway and 24 mpg combined with the CVT and 19/27/22 with the manual -- on par for all-wheel-drive crossovers. In Edmunds performance testing, the 2.5i with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 9.8 seconds, which is average for a four-cylinder crossover. Sticking with the manual knocks that time down to 9.4 seconds.

Outback 3.6R versions come with a 3.6-liter horizontally opposed six-cylinder good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic with shift paddles is the only transmission offered here. In Edmunds performance testing, the 3.6R hit 60 mph in 7.3 seconds -- a strong time for a six-cylinder-powered crossover or wagon. EPA fuel economy estimates for this powertrain are 18/25/20 -- also average.

Safety

The 2012 Subaru Outback comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags that cover both rows. In brake testing, a base 2.5i model came to a stop from 60 mph in a longer-than-average 130 feet. The 3.6R and its larger brakes managed a better 126 feet.

In government crash testing, 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

Though the interior of the 2012 Subaru Outback is attractive enough, especially on upper trim levels, the use of hard plastics detracts from the overall effect. It's nicer than Subaru's similarly priced Forester, however. Audio and climate controls on lower trim levels are straightforward and intuitive, but the controls on models equipped with the optional navigation system are less so. Most buyers will likely find it's worth springing for the 2.5i Premium trim level -- or especially the optional Harman Kardon audio system -- as the sound quality of the base 2.5i model's standard four-speaker stereo is poor.

Like most Americans, the Subaru Outback has grown in size in recent years. That means more room for people inside, especially in the backseat where headroom and legroom are both excellent. The seatbacks also recline for greater comfort. There are 34.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind those rear seats and 71.3 cubic feet with them folded down, numbers on par with the biggest "compact" crossovers like the Honda CR-V and actually more spacious than midsizers like the Ford Edge.

Driving Impressions

While the Outback's last big growth spurt paid dividends in terms of interior room, the previous generation's nimble handling was largely lost in the transformation. Handling is hampered by significant body roll and vague steering feel, and we can't say it's much better than its compact crossover competitors. Still, the Outback feels more carlike when behind the wheel, and scores high in terms of offering a comfortable ride and a quiet cabin.

All-wheel drive is standard, and with 8.7 inches of ground clearance, light off-roading is possible. This, in addition to the Subaru's rigid structure and well-insulated steering, makes it easy to traverse narrow, deeply rutted trails from which crossovers like the Nissan Murano would cower. A rock-crawler the 2012 Subaru Outback is not, but delivering kayaks and mountain bikes off the beaten path is a cinch.

As far as choosing between the two available engines, the 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers both adequate performance and decent fuel economy with either the six-speed manual or the excellent CVT automatic. That said, the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine still makes sense for folks who regularly travel hilly country or frequently haul full loads of passengers, cargo or both.

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