2014 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited Wagon (3.6L 6-cyl. AWD 5-speed Automatic)
The Outback offers a unique blend of crossover wagon versatility with legitimate all-wheel drive capability, both on and off the road. It gives a smooth and comfortable highway ride and the cabin is quiet, although the interior lacks some refinement. The six-cylinder engine is plenty strong for all situations, yet our as-tested fuel economy reflects EPA estimates.
PerformanceThe 6-cylinder engine and five-speed automatic transmission pair up nicely. At no point during our test did we need more power than was at hand. And the tranny was rarely confused by changing grades. The steering is too heavy for slow-speed situations, but otherwise it handles responsively.
The 256 horsepower, horizontally-opposed six-cylinder accelerates to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. That's plenty of guts for everyday situations. A five-speed automatic is rare these days, but this one works well, shifts smoothly.
Brake pedal feel is on the soft side, but you soon realize there's plenty of power. The 3,600-pound Outback stopped from 60 mph in 122 feet. Because it's an off-roader, some brake and gas pedal overlap is allowed.
The steering is heavy. This is a good quality on the highway, as it adds a dimension of stability to its cruising demeanor. But it doesn't translate well to low-speed city driving or parking.
Tracks true to steering inputs. Side-to-side transitions require patience for the off-road-worthy tires to respond. Body roll is pronounced, yet the car plants itself through turns and the suspension absorbs mid-corner bumps.
The gas pedal operation is predictable and linear. The transmission shifts seamlessly whether in automatic or paddle-triggered manual mode. It was easy to drive in all situations, other than the heavy steering at low speeds.
All-wheel drive adds confidence to light off-roading. This Outback is more rugged than most crossovers. Ground clearance is decent, measuring 8.7 inches at its lowest point.
ComfortSeat cushions are plush but supportive. Ride quality is on the softest end of "firm," meaning road imperfections are swallowed up well by the suspension and tires. Exterior noise is held to a minimum, other than engine growl at full throttle.
Seat comfort is impressive, with proper support in all the right places. Tilt and telescopic wheel adjustments help the driver find a good position. The rear seats recline slightly in addition to offering ample leg and headroom.
The ride borders on plush with just a dash of firm. The tall sidewalls on the all-season tires help to soften things up. The Outback absorbs large and small road imperfections easily. We were impressed.
Sound deadening is excellent. Minimal tire noise and just a hint of wind noise sneak into the cabin at highway speeds. The engine has a hearty note at full throttle yet is barely perceptible when cruising.
InteriorCargo storage, access and overall interior space are where the Outback really does it right. It's easy to climb in and out of, as it sits at a near-perfect height. Some center stack buttons are oddly placed. Visibility would rate higher if a rearview camera were standard.
Center stack buttons are generally easy to use, with the exception of the oddly-placed radio power and volume buttons. Most secondary controls are buttons, although we prefer knobs. Decent navigation screen.
Entry and exit are easy at all positions and for most body types. Step-in height is 17.6 inches from the ground, which is about perfect. The tall roof, at 57.1 inches, helps. The heavy doors can be tough for kids to manage.
Driver and front passenger enjoy lots of head, elbow and leg room. Rear passengers, too, along with generious knee room and toe space under the front seats. The rear center position sits tall but headroom is only minimally compromised.
Thick windshield pillars limit forward sightlines somewhat. In our measurements, an over-the-shoulder blindspot extends 27 feet from the rear bumper, though the optional back-up camera nullifies this limitation.
Two-tier front storage bin. Two cupholders for each outboard seating position. Door pockets are deep and wide. Standard 65/35 fold-flat and reclining second row, roof rails with cross bars and cargo cover. There are 34.3 cu. ft. behind the second row.
ValueThe Outback's value component leaves a bit to be desired. The interior looks and feels dated, especially at this price point. On the plus side, lots of optional equipment is available. Warranty and roadside assistance services are competitive.
Build Quality (vs. $)
Its interior is in need of a makeover. The center stack is overrun by shiny, hard plastic. Materials are a mix of soft and hard surfaces that don't feel representative of a $37k car. This said, build quality was just fine.
The base price of the Outback 3.6R is $32,095. Standard highlights include leather-trimmed seats, a 9-speaker stereo, Bluetooth, heated front seats, mirrors and wiper de-icer and folding and reclining rear seatbacks.
Our Outback was $37,025 as-tested. Option package 43 ($4,040) added a sunroof, rearview camera, auto-dimming mirrors, navigation, pre-collision braking and throttle management, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a cargo net.
The EPA rates the Outback 3.6R at 20 mpg Combined (17 City/25 Highway). We averaged 21 mpg over 500 miles, including 25.7 mpg over the 116-mile Edmunds evaluation loop.
The Outback comes with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty, 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage and 5-year/unlimited miles for rust protection.
Roadside assistance is covered for 3 years/36,000 miles but a free maintenance plan is not included.
Fun To DriveVersatility can be fun and the Outback allows you to handle whatever comes your way. Want to get in a half-day on the slopes, then pick up the dog and kids on the way home? And the roads are covered with snow and ice? No problem for this rig.
Flexibility is what makes the Outback special. This tough wagon was designed to haul kids, muddy gear, snowboards or groceries. Barring the need for true, low-range 4WD, the Outback can take you just about anywhere.
A unique blend of on-road comfort and off-road capability. No other crossover embraces the rugged yet refined personality the way the Subaru Outback does.
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator
The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2014 Subaru Outback Wagon in VA is:
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