2010 Subaru Outback Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious interior, crossover-besting cargo space, comfortable ride, simple controls on lower trims, commendable off-road performance for a wagon.
  • Lacks agility, numb-on-center steering, awkward styling.
List Price Range
$3,800 - $10,995

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The all-new 2010 Subaru Outback remains an outdoorsman's choice, offering all-weather traction and even more interior space than before. Those in less rugged climes will find it an appealing alternative to conventional wagons and crossovers.

Vehicle overview

While the Subaru Outback may be named after the flat, desert center of Australia, its past iterations have been most popular in the snowy or more mountainous regions of the United States. Here, the Outback's standard all-wheel drive, rugged nature and general outdoorsy vibe fit right in with typical active lifestyles. However, wagons of any sort have limited appeal in other parts of the country, so Subaru has completely redesigned the 2010 Outback to draw in customers more inclined toward bigger crossovers. The results are mixed.

For one, the 2010 Subaru Outback is much bigger in nearly every dimension. While it may not look that much larger in pictures, park it next to a conventional car or wagon and you'll immediately notice the difference. The Outback is now quite similar to the Toyota Venza, which also bridges the gap between crossover and wagon. Not only does this provide a more visual distinction from traditionally uncool wagons, but it also provides a significant improvement in rear seat space (4 additional inches of legroom) and cargo capacity. Even bigger stuff can be strapped to the roof using the standard, adjustable roof rails that 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.

Unfortunately, this added size means that the Outback has lost the relatively nimble handling that previously set it apart from traditional crossovers. It now feels tall and tippy when driving around corners, and numb steering doesn't instill much confidence either when heading through winding mountain passes. An increase in ground clearance (to 8.7 inches) has improved the Outback's ability to make its way through a field or rutted road undamaged, but for daily use the Outback is no more nimble on-road than the average crossover.

Despite its increased dimensions, the Outback has gained little weight thanks to the added use of lightweight, high-tensile steel. This makes life easier for the four- and six-cylinder "boxer" engines. The four has been mildly revised to improve responsiveness and is matched to a newly optional continuously variable transmission (CVT) that boosts fuel economy. The six-cylinder has also been revised, going from 3.0 liters to 3.6 liters, with horsepower increasing to 256 and torque going up to 247 pound-feet. 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.

For Subaru loyalists, the 2010 Subaru Outback provides more space and utility to aid in their day-to-day adventures. However, the side effects are disappointing handling, awkward exterior styling and the lack of a mountain-friendly turbo model. General-interest shoppers, meanwhile, will discover a vehicle that is less wagonlike than before and more like the countless crossovers now saturating the market. For either group, we're not sure there's enough of a differentiation between the Outback and Subaru's own Forester, even though the former has a higher-quality interior, a quieter and more comfortable ride, and a more carlike driving position. As such, we'd suggest driving the Forester, as well as the more elegant Toyota Venza. Wagons like the Volvo V50 and VW Passat could also be worth a look if you think the Outback has grown too big for its britches.

2010 Subaru Outback models

The 2010 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon available in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium and 3.6R Limited.

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 column, height-adjustable driver seat and a four-speaker stereo with CD player and an 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.

Equipment for the Outback 3.6R trim levels generally mirrors that of the respective 2.5i trims. Optional on all but the base 2.5i is a sunroof. Optional on the Limited models is a navigation system packaged with a back-up camera.

2010 Highlights

The 2010 Subaru Outback has been fully redesigned. Changes include more interior room, more dramatic styling and new features.

Performance & mpg

Every 2010 Subaru Outback has all-wheel drive. The 2.5i models come with a 2.5-liter horizontally opposed (aka "boxer" or "flat") four-cylinder engine that produces 170 hp and 170 lb-ft 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.


The 2010 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 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash testing, the Outback scored the top rating of "Good" in both frontal-offset and side-impact tests.


With its increased size and concerted effort to be more of an SUV than a wagon, the 2010 Subaru Outback has lost much of its agility advantage over 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 makes it a bit more responsive than last year's smaller 3.0-liter engine.


The Outback's increased size 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 more 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 last Outback, the 2010 edition seems to have slid a bit in terms of interior materials quality and design. There are a few more hard plastic trim pieces than before, but they are at least low sheen and fit well together. One notable improvement is simpler, 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. The dual-zone climate control system that comes with the Limited trim levels is naturally a bit more complicated than the manual unit, but the buttons are bigger and better differentiated than before.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2010 Subaru Outback.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Wait for the 2011
This car has terrible squeaks and rattles. It drives well but feels underpowered in the mountains of Georgia. I would wait and see if they work out some issues for 2011. Fit and finish and power anemic as well as strange feeling seats after about an hour in the car.
Never again update never never
2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
I like to keep cars as long as I can, We bought this car new thinking it would last us 10 to 15 yrs, Now I'm not so sure it will, we are about 6 yrs in and have put way to much into it to get it here. the first problem we had at about 15000 miles was the brakes, the rear pads fell out wrecking the caliper, at less than 20000, the tires were shot, uneven wear, we are now at about 92000, and on our 4th set always uneven wear, we have to have it alinged twice a year because it won't stay alinged. Have had that done by a few different shops and found one that can do it really well and seems to last the longest. Other problems the ac sucks, dealer looked at says it's ok, still sucks, poor line of sight, the rear view mirior is in the wrong place, and the roof towers block a lot, also the shocks in the rear had to be replace at 15000, now they all need replacing again, all the wheel bearings have been done, front ball joints, brake pads at least on the third or 4th set, and the list keeps going, all the brake disc, Now for the second time it had to be towed to the dealer because the ignition switch is stuck, can't wait to get that bill, and to top it off it's about time to do the belts. We are not rich and this car has been hard for us, new this car was to much money. I hope this helps other people when buying a car. Update, so still have th car because I like no car payment. But we keep having to do a lot of work to it, hard to keep tires the alignment goes out a lot and runes the tires, lost count of breaks we have done, rusting out now hope to get a couple more years before I bring to the salvage yard, had to replace all the ball joints and a arms where shot. Just an all around pice of junk. But a thousand here and there still works out better than a car payment. 110000 miles or so now.
Very Disappointed
Bought this car new off the lot and I have owned it for 1.5 years. From the very start I've had nothing but problems. Here's a list of issues: The GPS hard drive unit crapped out, entire unit replaced. Sun roof leaked twice in the first rains. Had to have new seals put in and buy a car cover. Sound system has been horrible from the start. At low volume the sound goes in and out in waves. Plastic seat casing along driver side seat kept popping off the track and then cracked. Passenger seat motor died, replaced. Check engine light keeps reappearing for gas cap (erroneously). Electronic e-break system keeps getting stuck engaged causing excessive wear. There's more but I'm out of characters.
Good Value
Our Outback is now 2 years old and has been a great vehicle. It's big enough for trips around town, yet fits in the garage. It has more than enough leg room in the rear seat and still have plenty of cargo room. The CVT transmission takes a little getting used to, but overall has been great. It'll take a second to build revs when you hit the gas, but a normal transmission would take a second to downshift too, so it's about the same. Child seat is easy to install and remove. Our Outback has been averaging 28 mpg with mostly intown driving. On a recent trip, the highway MPG was averaging 34. I've seen a lot of complaints about steering issues. I haven't experienced any, ours does fine.

Features & Specs

22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
170 hp @ 5600 rpm
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
170 hp @ 5600 rpm
19 city / 27 hwy
Seats 5
6-speed manual
170 hp @ 5600 rpm
22 city / 29 hwy
Seats 5
Continuously variable-speed automatic
170 hp @ 5600 rpm
See all Used 2010 Subaru Outback features & specs


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
  • Roof Strength Test
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 2010 Subaru Outback
More About This Model

This is not Paul Hogan's Outback. Back in 1995, Subaru introduced an entirely new concept -- the sport-utility wagon -- with advertisements featuring Crocodile Dundee himself boasting that it had more interior space than the SUVs of the day, just as much ground clearance, better fuel economy and a carlike ride. Actually, you could argue that the Subaru Outback is the evolutionary starting point of today's car-based crossover SUVs.

Yet there was no confusing Paul Hogan's Outback (or the two following generations) for anything other than a wagon, a type of vehicle growing less popular by the day as crossovers flourish. As such, the new 2010 Subaru Outback takes a big step in a new direction to keep pace with its evolutionary descendants.

Most of the virtues that Dundee touted are still there, but virtually every dimension has been pumped up to make the Outback more crossoverlike than ever before. Think Toyota Venza, except with standard all-wheel drive and enough ground clearance to do some light off-roading. The result is a vehicle that's friendlier for families and road trips, with a spacious reclining backseat and more cargo capacity than both its predecessor and the Subaru Forester.

Despite its added size, the 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i is 568 pounds lighter than a four-cylinder Venza and 911 pounds lighter than the Ford Edge -- two all-wheel-drive competitors that feature similar interior space. Better yet, more power is available for 2010 thanks to the 3.6-liter flat-6 engine borrowed from Subaru's otherwise forgettable Tribeca. However, most people will probably go for the standard 170-horsepower flat-4, so that's the engine we got in our test car. In fact, at $23,690, our Outback 2.5i didn't include a single optional feature.

The 2010 Outback has grown up to meet a changing marketplace, but there are downsides to its evolution. Its added bulk and an emphasis on comfort have diluted its handling to no better (and occasionally worse) than the crossover SUV competition.

This probably won't be a problem for many consumers. But Outbacks do tend to be popular in mountainous regions where winding roads are common, and in this environment the new Outback simply isn't as responsive and confidence-inspiring as before. We're not sure how Subaru's faithful will take to this new direction -- never mind Crocodile Dundee -- but for the rest of the crossover-buying public, the new 2010 Subaru Outback certainly has appeal.

Used 2010 Subaru Outback Overview

The Used 2010 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback SUV. Available styles include 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl 6M), 3.6R 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), 3.6R Premium 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), and 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl 5A).

What's a good price on a Used 2010 Subaru Outback?

Price comparisons for Used 2010 Subaru Outback trim styles:

  • The Used 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium is priced between $5,330 and$10,683 with odometer readings between 89652 and186437 miles.
  • The Used 2010 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is priced between $7,700 and$8,995 with odometer readings between 130000 and146810 miles.
  • The Used 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited is priced between $3,800 and$10,995 with odometer readings between 114652 and234308 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2010 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) 2010 Subaru Outback for sale near. There are currently 10 used and CPO 2010 Outbacks listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $3,800 and mileage as low as 89652 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned 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 Used 2010 Subaru Outback.

Can't find a used 2010 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Outback for sale - 6 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $25,609.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 3 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $17,030.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Outback for sale - 12 great deals out of 23 listings starting at $9,955.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 4 great deals out of 7 listings starting at $23,601.

Should I lease or buy a 2010 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
Check out Subaru Outback lease specials