2021 Subaru Outback

MSRP range: $26,795 - $39,945
(19)
MSRP$28,351
Edmunds suggests you pay$25,789

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2021 Subaru Outback Review

  • Spacious cabin and smooth, comfortable ride
  • Optional turbocharged engine provides plenty of power
  • Loading the roof or cargo area is easier than in most SUVs
  • Above-average off-road ability
  • Big touchscreen is slow to respond and buries many controls in complicated menus
  • Slow acceleration from standard engine
  • Native voice recognition system isn't very accurate
  • Adaptive LED headlights now standard on all trims
  • Seat-belt reminder standard for all passengers
  • Reminder to check rear seat added as standard safety feature
  • Part of the sixth Outback generation introduced for 2020

The Subaru Outback has been around for more than 25 years, splitting the difference between a midsize SUV and a station wagon. That niche has broad appeal, and the ever popular Outback has continued its successful formula over six generations. While it drives mostly like a regular car, that hatchback design, decent ground clearance and taller seating position give it an SUV flair. We think it's a successful mix. The Outback is comfortable, well appointed and versatile, and the standard list of driver aids make it very compelling.

There aren't really any other vehicles around that strike that wagon/SUV balance. The Outback is classified as a midsize SUV, and as such competes against models such as the Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe and Toyota 4Runner. Each one has its high points, from the Passport's large and usable interior to the 4Runner's serious off-road credentials. Any one of these is well worth a look if you're in the market for a two-row SUV.

What's it like to live with?

We were impressed enough with the redesigned Subaru Outback that we added one to our long-term test fleet to see if our impressions change living with it from day to day. We like the Outback's comfortable ride, handsome interior and peppy turbocharged engine.

EdmundsEdmunds' Expert Rating
Rated for you by America’s best test team
The Outback does all the work of an SUV better than most SUVs but without any pretense. It combines a station wagon's practicality, comfort, easy-driving character and fantastic outward visibility with the ground clearance, ride compliance and all-weather sure-footedness of an SUV. We have our complaints, ranging from the frustrating infotainment screen to the anemic engine, but there are more strengths than weaknesses.
The Outback is slow, but that's about the only negative in this category. Our test vehicle, an Outback Limited with the base four-cylinder engine, accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 8.8 seconds. You'll want to upgrade to the turbocharged engine to get power similar to what rivals such as the Honda Passport and Ford Edge are capable of. At least the transmission shifts quickly and promptly to help you keep pace with traffic.

There's some noticeable body roll when making turns, but in general the Outback is well behaved. The steering offers good on-center feel and feedback from the road. The best part? With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback can go pretty much anywhere its SUV competitors can — and some places they can't.
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more comfortable vehicle for the money. The front seats are great. They're soft but supportive, offering a decent amount of bolstering without feeling tight. Overall, these are welcoming seats, pleasant to settle into when you're tired and easy to stay in for a long time.

The Outback's ride quality is excellent overall, too, even if certain road surfaces can create some vibrations in the cabin. Potholes, speed humps and drainage ditches are absorbed easily, yet there's no real floatiness to the vehicle. It's an impressive balance of compliance and control.

The climate system works well to regulate cabin temperature. Unfortunately, making any adjustments beyond temperature requires using the complicated touchscreen interface.
From a space standpoint, the Outback is fantastic. Some might prefer a more upright SUV-like seating position, but the Outback offers plenty of seat adjustability. Backseat passengers will be treated to excellent head- and legroom, and the cabin feels airy and open. The big windows also make for easy visibility all around and help eliminate blind spots.

Unfortunately, in pursuit of reducing button clutter for drivers, most of the Outback's controls are routed through the touchscreen. The screen can be slow to respond and very distracting to use. Changing any setting requires navigating through multiple menus, adding time and distraction to even simple tasks.
A nice-sounding stereo and plenty of charge ports are pluses, but Subaru's vertical 11.6-inch infotainment screen is a wasted opportunity. It's pretty but not very functional. It's easy enough to find settings and selections, but the complicated menu structure adds time to any task.

Plug in a smartphone, and the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto display is crammed into the top half of the screen, rendering the bottom half totally useless. Subaru's native voice command system is also subpar and struggles to recognize even basic requests.

Subaru's EyeSight is one of the most capable driver assistance systems you can get, but it's also really annoying. While everything from adaptive cruise to lane keeping works well, all of it subjects you to almost constant beeping notifications.
Because the Outback is more a lifted station wagon than an SUV, it loses out just a bit in terms of total cargo capacity. But at least the cargo floor is low and flat, making loading and unloading a breeze. It's also easy to install gear on the Subaru's roof rails because the Outback isn't quite as high as your typical SUV.

Cabin storage is clever but lacking in volume. There's a nice phone shelf for front passengers, and rear passengers get bottle holders in their doors and seatback pockets on both sides, but the center console box is smaller than the ones in most SUVs. Ultimately there's less space to stash your stuff.

Installing child safety seats should be a breeze, thanks to easily accessible seat anchors and plenty of room.
The EPA estimates you'll get 29 mpg in combined city/highway driving with the base engine, which is better than competitors manage. With our test Outback, however, we only managed around 20 mpg. This could be because the anemic power source demands a lead-footed approach to keeping pace with busy traffic.
Most competitors have stronger standard engines, but otherwise the Outback offers an excellent value. The base model isn't lacking any practicality. And when loaded with extra luxuries and technology features, it costs less than similarly equipped competitors. The equation changes a bit if you want the more powerful XT models, whose prices are more directly aligned with traditional SUV competitors.

The Subaru doesn't offer any particular ownership advantages, with a warranty that's average for the segment. And while the Outback feels well put together, the design and quality of materials don't really stand out in any particular way.
The Outback does SUV things better than most SUVs, and does it without pretense or overcompensation. We wish that meeting fuel economy estimates was easier, but in its unassuming competence the Outback reminds us of the value of putting function before image.

Yes, the Outback is a little bland, but it's also very sure of itself. With plenty of ground clearance, full-time AWD and a smooth ride, it invites you to tackle potholes or unpaved roads. All told, it makes driving on bad city roads or unkept country roads altogether more pleasant. In fact, the Outback's strength is that it invites relaxation.

Which Outback does Edmunds recommend?

The midlevel Premium trim offers a lot of features at a competitive price point, but if you have the budget, we suggest stepping up to the Onyx Edition XT. It packs more features than the Premium trim and benefits from a more powerful turbocharged engine.

Subaru Outback models

The Subaru Outback is a midsize SUV that comes in seven trim levels: base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT and Touring XT. All-wheel drive comes standard on every trim. Feature highlights include:

Base
The base Subaru Outback comes with a decent list of features, including:

  • 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (182 horsepower, 176 lb-ft)
  • Continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT)
  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Turn-adaptive LED headlights
  • Roof rails with integrated crossbars
  • 7-inch touchscreen display
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration
  • Automatic climate control
  • Driver aids:
    • Adaptive cruise control (maintains a driver-set distance between the Subaru and the car in front)
    • Forward collision mitigation (warns you of an impending collision and applies the brakes in certain scenarios)
    • Lane keeping assist (makes minor steering corrections to help keep the vehicle centered in its lane)
    • Automatic high beams

Premium
Stepping up to the Premium trim adds:

  • Power-adjustable driver's seat
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control
  • All-Weather package
    • Heated and power-folding exterior mirrors
    • Heated front seats
    • A windshield wiper de-icer
  • 11.6-inch touchscreen display
  • LED foglights
  • Tinted rear windows
  • Leather-wrapped steering wheel

Options on the Premium include:

  • Blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert (warns you if a vehicle is in your blind spot during a lane change or while reversing)
  • Hands-free power liftgate
  • Keyless ignition and entry
  • Sunroof
  • Navigation system

Limited
The Outback Limited includes all Premium features plus the blind-spot monitoring, hands-free liftgate and keyless ignition and entry. You also get:

  • 18-inch wheels
  • Driver-seat memory settings
  • Leather upholstery
  • Harman Kardon audio system
  • Auto-dimming rearview mirror
  • Power-adjustable front passenger seat
  • Heated rear outboard seats
  • Rear HVAC vents

Options for the Limited:

  • Heated steering wheel
  • Sunroof
  • Navigation system
  • Driver attention monitor (issues an alert if sensors determine you are becoming fatigued)

Touring
The Touring trim has all of the above plus:

  • Ventilated front seats
  • Upgraded leather with contrasting stitching

Onyx Edition XT
Features here generally mirror those on the Premium trim. It also comes with:

  • Turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine (260 hp, 277 lb-ft)
  • An upgraded version of Subaru's all-wheel-drive system with more drive modes
  • Hill descent control
  • Front-view camera
  • Unique body cladding

Limited XT and Touring XT
These trims mirror the features of the Limited and Touring trims, respectively, but both get the upgraded turbocharged engine.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2021 Subaru Outback.

5 star reviews: 63%
4 star reviews: 21%
3 star reviews: 11%
2 star reviews: 5%
1 star reviews: 0%
Average user rating: 4.4 stars based on 19 total reviews

Trending topics in reviews

  • comfort
  • value
  • handling & steering
  • technology
  • engine
  • wheels & tires
  • driving experience
  • spaciousness
  • safety
  • steering wheel
  • brakes
  • ride quality
  • electrical system
  • interior
  • climate control
  • infotainment system
  • acceleration
  • seats
  • doors
  • appearance
  • sound system
  • fuel efficiency
  • maintenance & parts
  • reliability & manufacturing quality
  • road noise
  • transmission
  • dashboard

Most helpful consumer reviews

5 out of 5 stars, A BMW for the Fixed Income Set
scatback43,
Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT)

We traded a 2018 3.6R touring. This is a much better car - tighter, quieter, faster and with much, much better seats. I liked the naturally aspirated 3.6, an engine always dismissed as "old" by car magazines enamored of the 66 year-old Chevy small block. The new turbo is more powerful but less civilized. Voice command is still hopeless, but the face scan technology is a wow and will customize the outside mirror settings to the individual driver as you get in the car, a big safety plus. I also like the button that defeats auto stop/start; yes, there is one if you know where to look. The front seat passenger has 8-way power instead of the two-way as in the 3.6R, and Carplay now fills the entire 11" screen. The problem with Edmunds - as with all the major outlets, not to mention Doug Demuro and his spawn - is they never drive the cars at night. Heads up, there, fellas. It's one of the Outback's strengths.

5 out of 5 stars, Great all round all-wheel drive
SB,
Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

We have had an Outback since 2014. For winter driving even in really bad conditions, this is an ideal car with class beating symmetrical all-wheel drive. We also use snow tires in the winter which helps greatly with traction and to a small degree with braking too. I have had occasion to have to drive up deep snow packed and slippery hills with no problem whatsoever. I was a little concerned going from a 6 cylinder to a flat-4, but even driving in fast moving traffic when we go to a big city, I have been able to keep up with lane changes and 70+ mph traffic. The flat-4 Boxer engine has a lower center of gravity which helps in handling.The turbo charged newer version would be a game changer. Will be updating to a newer model in the next couple years and will definitely be visiting a Subaru dealer. World beating symmetrical all-wheel for this price is a great value. The CVT transmission has a slight lag with sudden acceleration, but once you get used to it it's fine.

4 out of 5 stars, 2021 Outback Limited - the good and the bad
Eric S,
Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

I had a 2016 Outback Limited for 5 years and traded it in for a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland so I could be cool. I didn't like the Jeep for various reasons (mostly the unbearable road noise) so I traded it in for a 2021 Outback. I test-drove the XT as well but didn't notice enough of a difference to warrant the extra cost and worse gas mileage. I mostly like the Outback but here are my (nit-picky) complaints: you can't put the visor all the way up b/c of the Eyesight Driver Assist thingy blocks it, so it only goes 3/4 of the way up. Subaru didn't think that one through; no cap-less gas tank? Sheesh, Subaru; base engine is underpowered, but that's what you sacrifice to get good gas mileage; the auto-stop start is rough (Jeep's was smooth); too much touch screen and not enough buttons: heated seats and auto stop-start should ALWAYS be a physical button (are you reading this, Subaru?). You have to go into SUB menus for both, which is a pain (especially when it's cold and there is a huge delay when navigating through the screens); rear-camera picture quality is so-so; advertised gas mileage is false: my combined average is about 24 mpg (slightly better than my 2016 Outback) and that's driving like a normal person; there is a slight vibration when the car is idling in drive. I hope that goes away. Here's what I LIKE: overall, the value is good. I got mine basically loaded for about $36k; rear leg room is good and the back seats recline; the cargo space is great; the liftgate is awesome; the safety features are great - you basically can't do anything wrong without the car yelling at you (each of these features can be disabled); the "leather" is nice; if you have kids, get the rear sun shades. I love being able to start the car and adjust the temp from an app on my phone. The AWD is awesome. Overall, it's a good car. My friends make fun of me for driving a wagon, but whatever. It's the overall quality of this car that makes it worth it. The guy who sold me the car told me today that Subaru will have an update in the summer of 2021 for wireless Apple CarPlay, so that's cool. So this car is worth it if you're a "big picture" person who cares about overall quality and function.

5 out of 5 stars, Love my new Outback
Linda,
Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT)

I previously owned a Subaru Forester, which I also loved but drove both the Forester and Outback and there was a big difference in how it feels. The Outback was quieter and more comfortable. If you are looking at them, make sure to drive them both as I was prepared to get another Forester and ended up with the Outback!

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2021 Subaru Outback videos

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NOTE: This video is about the 2020 Subaru Outback, but since the 2021 Subaru Outback is part of the same generation, our earlier analysis still applies.

Editor Travis Langness gets behind the wheel of the redesigned 2020 Subaru Outback for a test drive. On the outside, the Outback is updated with fresh new looks in the form of new headlights and taillights, a new front grille, wider fenders, and a bigger opening for loading items in the back. The engines have changed, too, with a reworked version of the standard 2.5-liter engine still powering the base Outback and a new turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder available if you want to upgrade.

TRAVIS LANGNESS: Is it a wagon? Is it a lifted hatchback? Is it a crossover, or is it an SUV? I don't really know. But I do know is this is the 2020 Subaru Outback. And we're here, Northern California, taking it out for a first drive. We're going to show you what's new about it, what's new under the hood, and all the cool tech and safety features that you can get. And we're going to take it off road. But before we do that, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and go to Edmonds.com for more information. So what's new about the Outback? Well, pretty much everything. Under the hood, the base model gets a 2.5 liter four cylinder, which is the same as the last generation. But it's actually a new engine, same size, new engine. This one, however, has the turbo charged 2.4 liter engine, which replaces the old six cylinder. And this one gets more power, more torque, and better fuel economy-- all great things for a new car. There's different sheet metal, different styling up front and in the back-- different set of roof rack systems with tie-down sections. It's also got the same tent weight rating as the previous generation got. So you can put a 700-pound tent on here while this thing is parked, or a 176 pounds while moving. As you go down the side of the vehicle, you notice some Subaru styling. They've styled it they said to look kind of like a hiking boot with the rubber on the bottom but a little bit nicer up top. Then you come around back, different tail lights, different rear fascia. And if you get the option, you can have a power lift tailgate with the hands-free section. But it doesn't use a foot swipe, like some other manufacturers do-- just uses a little sensor here in the tailgate. On the inside of the new Outback, there's a lot to like. For starters is the big party piece-- this optional 11.6 inch tablet style touchscreen. Now, there are a couple of things to note about this. First, it's really high quality. It's high resolution. The touch screen moves easily. It responds to touch mode stuff well to your inputs well. But it is a little bit small. If you look up, like, Apple CarPlay player Android Auto, that seems a little kind of shrunken, because width-wise, it's not very large. Otherwise, though, the nav map shows up really cool. It's powered by TomTom. So it's got good directions in here. This is a really nice system. It does, though, intrude a little bit on storage space. You can't really put much down here. There's two USB plugs here. And there's an option for dealer accessory, charging wireless pad. Now, over here on the passenger side, there is some more smartphone storage space. But it's not a lot. There are some nice soft touch points on the side for your elbows here. It really feels good to drive and relax in. And the center console here has this nice little top section and then a larger section below for more of your gear. Now, you can't put a smartphone here in the center console. And there's a nice little addition for cup holders. These are nice and deep. And also on the passenger side here, there's another bit for storage. So small item storage, it seems like they're kind of making due with the space. When you go down into the touch screen, there are a couple of things worth noting. It's got all of the controls for the driver aids in here. You've got systems, like, auto stop, start are integrated into the touch screen. The climate control also integrated into the touch screen. Sure, you can do the heat and cooling buttons here. But the fan buttons are here. And they're small and don't always respond to your touch inputs. It's kind of annoying. And when you get deeper into the screen settings, you can go into things that have to deal with the car and driving its distance. So you can look at the pre-braking collision, turn that on or off. Or you can going into lane departure warnings and see which ones you want to turn on and off. One of the coolest parts, though, is you can go into the cruise control acceleration characteristics on the menu and change it from level one, eco, two, comfort, three, standard to four, dynamic. Now, what this means is you can adjust the level of speed that the car picks up when someone gets out of your way on the highway, and you've got adaptive cruise control engaged. This is a complaint we have on tons of cars that when someone gets out of your way, and the adaptive cruise control re-engages, the car kind of takes some time to pick up. But on this one, it can adjust it yourself. Steering wheel is great. It's pretty much the same as the previous generation, got heff to it. And while at first glance, it seems like it's kind of crowded with buttons, and you get a little overwhelmed, things fall the hand easily. And once you got it figured out on the road a couple hours behind the wheel, you're not going to have a problem with these buttons. It's also nice that there is still a volume knob here, despite there being one over here. And the driver display system, it's bright. It's got a good font, good contrast. And it doesn't distract you from the road. There's not a lot of extra information going on there. This is, all in all, a great place to be. We're out on the road. Moving to the back seat, I have the seat set for me, and I'm 5 foot 9. There's definitely enough knee room here for somebody who's even taller. If I sit all the way back and upright, there's plenty of space here. A lot of foot room underneath. And there's plenty a head room up top. There's also a couple of nice features back here for passengers, like your two USB charging ports and outboard heated seats. So it's a little cold. People sitting on the outboard seats-- be nice and warm. And then the center here, obviously, you've got the full data center console with cup holders. You have the 40/60 split seats. And if you sit in the middle, it's not entirely uncomfortable. Now, I wouldn't want to be here for a long road trip. But a trip to the store, no problem. We've got a hands-free tailgate and a couple of cool features in the back here. For instance, let's say you do have a bunch of stuff. Your hands are full. And you want to load it in. But it's too large for this cargo cover-- simply push down on it, slides right up. It's pretty awesome. Now, back here, you've got 32.5 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seats, which may seem smaller than the previous generation because it's a smaller number. But it's just a difference in the way the ratings work out. This is actually more space than the previous generation car. And you've got the folding seats there with the handles. And you get, now, over 75 cubic feet of cargo space, which is more than enough for two adults to lay down in a camping trip or just enough to put a lot of lumber in. Either way, it's a spacious SUV. A lot of people are going to buy this car with the base engine-- the 2.5 liter naturally aspirated boxer four cylinder. And I would tell them not to, because this 2.4 liter turbocharged engine is definitely the one to have. It's got a ton of get up and go, 260 horsepower, 277 pound feet of torque. And it's honestly a really nice engine to drive. Even with the CVT, it feels like it's got down shifts. It feels like it's got some real get up and go. I'm just a fan of it. It's not grading either. It's not wheezy or loud. And even when you're going up grades, it seems to have a good low tone to it, unlike some other turbo-charged four cylinder engines, especially when they're paired with CVTs. You don't get that with this 2.4 liter engine. And this is the same engine that you get in the Subaru Ascent, their big three-row crossover. Oh, it's got some power. It feels good, especially on a straight away like that. Brakes are good too. Turn in is good. Really, it feels kind of sporty, which is something I didn't think I'd find myself saying after driving this car for a few hours. But it feels like something that I could definitely go on, like a canyon run in, which is weird for a midsize SUV/crossover. Now, there are a couple of competitors in the class that give you that same vibe. The Passport is very similar. We just did a video with the Passport and the Blazer. And while I'm not a huge fan of the Blazer myself, I do agree that it's got a very sporty vibe. But despite this outback's outdoorsy looks, it's a car that really holds its own when it comes to curvy roads and getting around and having a little bit of fun. This is definitely not something you would think is an SUV. It kind of lends to the idea that this feels more like a wagon or a car, which in my opinion is a good thing. Yeah, I know everybody likes SUVs. They're really popular. That's why Subaru has made this car bigger and more capable over the years. But the party trick that it's kept is the fact that it's still really capable around corners. Steering has a good on-center field, returns the center really easily in your hands. It's got good weight to it. And where you don't get all this body roll and heave to and fro. And on the highway, it's really comfortable-- good ride quality, good seats. It's a little bit noisy in here. You can probably hear kind of that low hum of the tires. But it's not too bad. You turn on the music, and it drowns out real easily, especially with the optional Harman Kardon sound system that this trim level has. There's a lot of passive, active-- all kinds of safety features available-- optional standard on this Subaru. And some of those, like, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring-- those are across the board in a lot of different vehicles. You can get them pretty much everywhere. But this car has a system that's very unique. It's called driver focus. And there are actually infrared radar systems here that read my face and can tell if I'm looking down too long or getting drowsy. It also knows who I am. You can store up to five driver profiles in here that greet you when you get into the car. And well, it seems kind of Skynetty. I do like it. It's fun. And it sets up your seat based on your face. It's definitely a new and interesting system but one I'm happy to get used to. So what I'll do here is, I'll look up at the road. I'll put my head down. And in a second, the car should figure out-- yep, you hear that beep? The car just figured out that I wasn't paying attention-- told me to keep my eyes on the road. So if you're looking at your cell phone, which you absolutely shouldn't be doing, it will make that noise as well. One of the great features too about the inside of this car is that everything is kind of down and away. It's out of my line of sight. It's a great flat dashboard, tons of forward visibility. And there aren't really any appreciable blind spots in the Outback. But there's an optional 180-degree front-view camera helpful when you're out on the trails. And there's a nice big rear-view camera display in this 11.6 inch tablet. Now, these seats-- these are pretty comfortable too. From the second you get at them, you realize that you don't really have to adjust much when you're out on the road. There's good bolster support. There's adjustable lumbar support. That was lane departure. I got out of the way of a truck that was oncoming. Now, when it comes to this driver aids, they can be a little bit sensitive. But honestly, it's probably still one of my favorite systems on the market. There are other systems, like, for example, the Honda One that's a little bit more sensitive, and I'm not a huge fan. But this Subaru system is, it's really intuitive. And you can adjust things, like, how fast it pulls away from adaptive cruise. And someone gets out of your way. And you can just turn off some of the systems entirely. And it goes around corners pretty well-- look at that. So what's the Outback like on the road? Honestly, it's really good. Same as last generation. It handles well. It steers well. Sure, it's no sports car. This steering is a little bit vague. But it's definitely more connected than somebody on frame SUV competitors. And it's got a good heft in your hands, good return to center field here. And I would enjoy driving this on any back road. So now that we've done some on-road stuff, we're going to do some off-roading in this Subaru Outback. And really, there is a difference between this kind of off-roading and the kind of stuff you might see on Jeep commercials. We're going over a few water crossings here through some ruts. And there's plenty of ground clearance, because this Subaru, just like all its Subaru SUV brethren, has 8.7 inches of ground clearance at the lowest places. It's got OK approach and departure angles. But it has dual X-Mode. So it's the upgraded version of the base X-Mode. This is deep mud engage X-Mode. OK, so let's go into the system here. X-Mode is on. And I will move forward for deep mud. I did just fine. Honestly, that wasn't really that deep. So we'll ignore that part. But the X-Modes come in two available software systems. There's the base X-Mode, which allows you to do hill, descent control-- things like that-- kind of manages the traction of the all wheel drive system. And then there's the dual X-Mode, which is on this car and which allows for sand, snow, rocky areas. It gives you some wheel slip so you can get out of kind of hairy situations. So if you live in an area where there's a lot of snow, or you know you're going to be traversing trails more often, than maybe go for one of the Outbacks with the dual X-Mode. Now, as we go through this section, you can see that I'm going between a cut down tree. And it is really precarious-- find something maybe two, three inches wider-- wouldn't make it through there. And one of the nice things about this vehicle is that it does have kind of smaller dimensions than some of its bigger competitors, like the forerunner. Out here on the trails too, most of the stuff you're going to find isn't Moab. Look, I know jeeps are good. I know forerunners are good. I know a Raptor can go anywhere and do jumps in the desert. But vehicles you want to live with on a daily basis are ones like the Outback. OK, I'm not a huge fan of CVTs. But this one is really well-tuned. And the 2.4 liter turbo-charged engine has plenty of power. It's also got plenty of space in the back. And as opposed to a high-riding SUV, it's got a nice low load floor. So you can get big heavy items, your camping totes, your kid's strollers, whatever in the back, easier than you could if you had something that was higher up, like a pickup truck or a body on frame SUV. It's got its benefits. And it's going to be less expensive than some of those competitors too. So there's a good reason to check this one out first. Does the 2020 Subaru Outback deliver on all its promises? Absolutely. This is one of the most comfortable, capable, spacious and high tech midsize SUVs on the market today. It's hard to tell yet whether it will edge out top competitors, like the Honda Passport. But once we get it in-house at Edmonds and do a full instrumented test, we'll be sure to let you know. So for more information for vehicles like this and for all of its competitors, go to Edmonds.com. And feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel and go to Facebook or Instagram for more great content.

Features & Specs

Premium 4dr SUV AWD features & specs
Premium 4dr SUV AWD
2.5L 4cyl CVT
MSRP$29,045
MPG 26 city / 33 hwy
SeatingSeats 5
TransmissionContinuously variable-speed automatic
Horsepower182 hp @ 5800 rpm
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Limited 4dr SUV AWD features & specs
Limited 4dr SUV AWD
2.5L 4cyl CVT
MSRP$33,595
MPG 26 city / 33 hwy
SeatingSeats 5
TransmissionContinuously variable-speed automatic
Horsepower182 hp @ 5800 rpm
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Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD features & specs
Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD
2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT
MSRP$39,945
MPG 23 city / 30 hwy
SeatingSeats 5
TransmissionContinuously variable-speed automatic
Horsepower260 hp @ 5600 rpm
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Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD features & specs
Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD
2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT
MSRP$35,145
MPG 23 city / 30 hwy
SeatingSeats 5
TransmissionContinuously variable-speed automatic
Horsepower260 hp @ 5600 rpm
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Safety

Our experts’ favorite Outback safety features:

EyeSight Driver Assist Technology
Scans the road ahead to enable adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning and automatic foglights.
Blind-Spot Detection/Lane Change Assist
Uses radar sensors to detect vehicles in blind spots and shows visual indicator in the side mirror. Indicator also warns of an unsafe lane change.
Subaru DriverFocus
Monitors the driver's focus using infrared sensors in the dashboard, warning when the driver has become drowsy or loses focus on the road.

NHTSA Overall Rating 5 out of 5 stars

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.

Frontal Barrier Crash RatingRating
Overall5 / 5
Driver5 / 5
Passenger5 / 5
Side Crash RatingRating
Overall5 / 5
Side Barrier RatingRating
Overall5 / 5
Driver5 / 5
Passenger5 / 5
Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsRating
Front Seat5 / 5
Back Seat5 / 5
RolloverRating
Rollover4 / 5
Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
Risk Of Rollover18.5%

IIHS Rating

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.

Side Impact Test
Good
Roof Strength Test
Good
Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
Moderate Overlap Front Test
Good

Subaru Outback vs. the competition

Subaru Outback vs. Honda Passport

The Honda Passport is one of the best SUVs around. It's one of our highest-ranked midsize SUVs, thanks to a spacious interior with tons of usable storage, a comfortable ride and smooth V6 engine. It's more expensive than the Outback, however, and Honda's driver aids aren't as refined as Subaru's. For more thoughts on how it holds up over a year, check out our long-term review.

Compare Subaru Outback & Honda Passport features

Subaru Outback vs. Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundais have always been a great value thanks to competitive pricing, an excellent warranty and loads of standard features. That said, the Santa Fe stands on its own, no qualification needed. Besides the features and warranty, we like the handsome and high-quality interior. The Santa Fe's engines lack the Subaru's grunt, and the sharp exterior design does hurt visibility.

Compare Subaru Outback & Hyundai Santa Fe features

Subaru Outback vs. Toyota 4Runner

Where the Outback has some off-road capability thanks to standard all-wheel drive and a decent amount of ground clearance, it has nothing on this Toyota. The 4Runner is one of our favorite SUVs on the market today. We like its off-road prowess, wide range of configurations and versatile cargo area. It isn't perfect. The 4Runner's V6 engine is thirsty, and it doesn't ride nearly as comfortably as the Outback. It's also significantly more expensive than the Subaru.

Compare Subaru Outback & Toyota 4Runner features

Related Outback Articles

FAQ

Is the Subaru Outback a good car?

The Edmunds experts tested the 2021 Outback both on the road and at the track, giving it a 7.6 out of 10. You probably care about Subaru Outback fuel economy, so it's important to know that the Outback gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg to 29 mpg, depending on the configuration. What about cargo capacity? When you're thinking about carrying stuff in your new car, keep in mind that the Outback has 32.5 cubic feet of trunk space. And then there's safety and reliability. Edmunds has all the latest NHTSA and IIHS crash-test scores, plus industry-leading expert and consumer reviews to help you understand what it's like to own and maintain a Subaru Outback. Learn more

What's new in the 2021 Subaru Outback?

According to Edmunds’ car experts, here’s what’s new for the 2021 Subaru Outback:

  • Adaptive LED headlights now standard on all trims
  • Seat-belt reminder standard for all passengers
  • Reminder to check rear seat added as standard safety feature
  • Part of the sixth Outback generation introduced for 2020
Learn more

Is the Subaru Outback reliable?

To determine whether the Subaru Outback is reliable, read Edmunds' authentic consumer reviews, which come from real owners and reveal what it's like to live with the Outback. Look for specific complaints that keep popping up in the reviews, and be sure to compare the Outback's average consumer rating to that of competing vehicles. Learn more

Is the 2021 Subaru Outback a good car?

There's a lot to consider if you're wondering whether the 2021 Subaru Outback is a good car. Edmunds' expert testing team reviewed the 2021 Outback and gave it a 7.6 out of 10. Safety scores, fuel economy, cargo capacity and feature availability should all be factors in determining whether the 2021 Outback is a good car for you. Learn more

How much should I pay for a 2021 Subaru Outback?

The least-expensive 2021 Subaru Outback is the 2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT). Including destination charge, it arrives with a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $26,795.

Other versions include:

  • Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) which starts at $29,045
  • Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) which starts at $33,595
  • Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) which starts at $39,945
  • Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) which starts at $35,145
  • Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) which starts at $37,995
  • Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) which starts at $37,495
  • 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) which starts at $26,795
Learn more

What are the different models of Subaru Outback?

If you're interested in the Subaru Outback, the next question is, which Outback model is right for you? Outback variants include Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT), and Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT). For a full list of Outback models, check out Edmunds’ Features & Specs page. Learn more

More about the 2021 Subaru Outback

2021 Subaru Outback Overview

The 2021 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback SUV. Available styles include Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT), Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT), Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT), Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), and 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT).

What do people think of the 2021 Subaru Outback?

Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2021 Subaru Outback and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2021 Outback 4.4 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2021 Outback.

Edmunds Expert Reviews

Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2021 Subaru Outback and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2021 Outback featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.

Our Review Process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.

What's a good price for a New 2021 Subaru Outback?

2021 Subaru Outback Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $35,392. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is trending $3,429 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $3,429 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $31,963.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is 9.7% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 70 2021 Subaru Outback Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $30,386. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is trending $2,927 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $2,927 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $27,459.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is 9.6% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 86 2021 Subaru Outback Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $27,845. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is trending $2,578 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $2,578 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $25,267.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is 9.3% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 4 2021 Subaru Outback 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $41,742. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is trending $3,847 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $3,847 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $37,895.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is 9.2% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 32 2021 Subaru Outback Touring XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $39,924. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is trending $3,713 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $3,713 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $36,211.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is 9.3% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 30 2021 Subaru Outback Limited XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $39,292. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is trending $3,642 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $3,642 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $35,650.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) is 9.3% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 25 2021 Subaru Outback Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT)

The 2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) can be purchased for less than the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (aka MSRP) of $36,911. The average price paid for a new 2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is trending $3,570 below the manufacturer’s MSRP.

Edmunds members save an average of $3,570 by getting upfront special offers. The estimated special offer price in your area is $33,341.

The average savings for the 2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) is 9.7% below the MSRP.

Available Inventory:

We are showing 23 2021 Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT 4dr SUV AWD (2.4L 4cyl Turbo CVT) vehicle(s) available in the Ashburn area.

Which 2021 Subaru Outbacks are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2021 Subaru Outback for sale near. There are currently 692 new 2021 Outbacks listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $27,845 and mileage as low as 0 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a car from our massive database to find cheap vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the 2021 Subaru Outback. Then select Edmunds special offers, perks, deals, and incentives to contact the dealer of your choice and save up to $3,106 on a used or CPO 2021 Outback available from a dealership near you.

Can't find a new 2021 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a new Subaru Outback for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $9,321.

Find a new Subaru for sale - 6 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $14,610.

Why trust Edmunds?

Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color.

Should I lease or buy a 2021 Subaru Outback?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Subaru lease specials