Designed with the North American market in mind, the Subaru Outback wagon provides many popular SUV traits without the associated drawbacks. Based on Subaru's midsize Legacy, the Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive, a raised suspension for better ground clearance, and special interior and exterior styling details.
There have been four Outback generations. At its debut, the original Subaru Outback was pretty much the only vehicle of its type and was an instant hit with consumers. More recent iterations lost a bit of an edge as other automakers came up with similar crossover wagons and SUVs at the start of the new millennium, but the latest fourth-generation Outback is more like a crossover SUV than ever. New or used, the Outback is a strong contender for shoppers interested in a car that provides plenty of everyday versatility with the type of all-season capability needed for frosty climes.
Current Subaru Outback
The five-passenger Subaru Outback is a tall wagon available in a number of trim levels -- 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium and 3.6R Limited -- distinguished by powertrain. The base engine is a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder that makes 170 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque. It comes with either a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Also available is 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer engine good for 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, with a five-speed conventional automatic as the only available transmission.
Even the base Outback comes with roof rails, full power accessories, cruise control, a tilt-telescoping steering column, a height-adjustable driver seat and a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. Higher trims add niceties like alloy wheels, foglights, powered and heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, iPod/USB inputs, Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity and a Harman Kardon sound system. There's also an optional voice-activated navigation system.
More so than previous Outbacks, the new model is meant to appeal to more mainstream buyers by being larger on the inside. To this end, while bumper-to-bumper length has shrunk by almost 1 inch, the wheelbase has grown by nearly 3 inches, width by 2 inches and height by 4 inches, enlarging interior space considerably and putting the Outback on par with other midsize crossovers. With the rear seats folded, there are an impressive 71 cubic feet of cargo space available.
In reviews, we've commented favorably about the current Outback's roomier interior. Performance with the base four-cylinder is unremarkable, however; if you want some zip, you'll need to ante up for the 3.6-liter engine. We miss the previous Outback's turbocharged boxer-4, a boon for owners living in mountainous areas. Handling is also unimpressive, as the Outback's elevated ride height and soft suspension tuning do their best to obscure the vehicle's sedan roots. Overall, the latest Outback is a solid choice for utility-minded families, but it's not as enjoyable to drive as previous models.
Read the most recent 2014 Subaru Outback review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Subaru Outback page.