2016 Subaru Outback Review

Pros & Cons

  • Spacious and comfortable interior
  • excellent visibility
  • above-average off-road ability
  • many advanced safety features available, plus top safety scores.
  • Base engine's lackluster acceleration.
List Price Range
$13,711 - $23,268

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Edmunds' Expert Review

With generous cargo capacity and a roomy interior, the 2016 Subaru Outback wagon is a good option for families, especially those who enjoy the occasional outdoor adventure.

Notably, we picked the Subaru Outback as one of Edmunds' Best Used SUVs for 2016.

Vehicle overview

Subarus are sometimes considered quirky cars, and you could probably say this about the 2016 Subaru Outback. Here's a midsize wagon based on a family sedan (the Legacy) that has a raised ground clearance, all-wheel drive and plastic body cladding. In today's cookie-cutter automotive marketplace, this is the equivalent of wearing paisley bell bottoms to an IBM boardroom meeting. But consider us fans of quirky because there's plenty to like with the latest Outback.

In actuality, Subaru redesigned the Outback last year with an eye toward making it feel more like a mainstream car, and we appreciate the automaker's efforts: The hard plastics and oddball ergonomics of the old car were replaced with higher-quality materials and a more sensible control layout, the technology interface became more advanced and fuel economy has improved. The Outback's safety resumé has grown as well, and this year's model has new emergency assistance connectivity through Subaru's Starlink system.

Based on the Legacy sedan, the Subaru Outback is one of the few midsize wagons available.

But for all its newfound class, the 2016 Subaru Outback still likes to play in the mud. You might be surprised given its wagon-like profile, but with all the mechanical bits tucked up under its sheet-metal skirts, the Outback boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance, more than many truck-based SUVs. Combine that with the Outback's roomy seating, generous cargo bay and relatively low load-height roof and you've got an ideal family outdoor recreational vehicle.

Few cars compete with the Outback head-on. Volvo's XC70 comes the closest. It's more luxurious but also more expensive. The Audi Allroad and Volvo V60 Cross Country are also similar in concept, but they can't match the Outback's interior space. If you're not keen on the Outback's wagon body style or performance, your next best bet would be a small or midsize crossover SUV such as the Honda CR-V, Jeep Cherokee or Subaru's own Forester. These are all good vehicles, but if foul-weather traction and outdoor-going individuality are the top attributes you're seeking, the 2016 Subaru Outback should definitely be on your short list.

2016 Subaru Outback models

The 2016 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger crossover wagon offered in four trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. The numbers refer to engine displacement.

The base 2.5i comes with 17-inch steel wheels, roof rack rails with integral crossbars, automatic headlights, air-conditioning, cruise control, a height-adjustable driver seat, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, full power accessories, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, a rearview camera, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a 6.2-inch touchscreen (Subaru's Starlink interface) and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio, a USB interface and smartphone integration with Pandora and Aha audio streaming. There are no factory-installed options offered on the 2.5i model.

The 2.5i Premium model has all of the base car's equipment plus 17-inch alloy wheels, heated seats and exterior mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 10-way power driver seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, upgraded gauges, expanded Starlink Connected services, voice controls, a 7-inch touchscreen display and a six-speaker sound system with satellite radio.

Options for the 2.5i Premium include a sunroof (which comes bundled with an auto-dimming rearview mirror), power folding side mirrors, a power rear liftgate, a navigation system, additional Starlink Safety Plus and Security Plus services and Subaru's EyeSight system (adaptive cruise control plus extra safety features; see Safety section).

Going with an Outback Premium or Limited will get you a larger touchscreen interface that's easy to use.

Stepping up to the 2.5i Limited adds leather upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, a comfort-tuned suspension, rear air vents, power-folding side mirrors, a power rear liftgate, a four-way power passenger seat, driver memory settings, heated rear seats, an upgraded Harman Kardon 12-speaker sound system, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert. Available options mimic those of the 2.5i Premium, with the addition of keyless ignition and entry.

The 3.6R Limited offers the same equipment as the 2.5i Limited, with the addition of a six-cylinder engine and xenon headlights.

2016 Highlights

Having been completely redesigned just last year, the 2016 Outback gains some additional equipment. The optional Subaru Starlink system adds two packages of connected car applications, adding functionality such as automatic crash notification and stolen vehicle recovery, along with Internet-connected apps such as Stitcher. The steering has been retuned for better feel, and Limited models get retuned shock absorbers for a smoother ride. Safety features on the Outback now include optional lane departure intervention.

Performance & mpg

The standard engine for the 2016 Subaru Outback is a 2.5 liter horizontally opposed ("boxer") four-cylinder, which generates 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. It drives all four wheels through a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which has steering-wheel-mounted buttons to emulate a six-speed manually shifted transmission when the driver desires.

In Edmunds performance testing, an Outback 2.5i Limited reached 60 mph from rest in an lackluster 9.6 seconds. Most compact crossovers are a bit quicker. The EPA rates the Outback 2.5i at 28 mpg combined (25 city/33 highway), and on Edmunds' mixed-driving 120-mile evaluation loop, the Outback 2.5i Limited returned 28.9 mpg.

The six-cylinder Outback 3.6R picks up the pace with 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, but that extra power takes its toll on fuel economy. The EPA gives estimates of 22 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway).

Safety

Every 2016 Subaru Outback comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front-seat side airbags, side curtain airbags and seat cushion airbags (to position occupants correctly in the event of a frontal collision; these are used in place of knee airbags). Also standard across the board is a rearview camera. On the Premium and Limited trim levels, the Outback comes with Starlink Connected Services, which includes emergency assistance and automatic collision notification. This can be enhanced with the optional Safety Plus and Security Plus upgrade, which adds remote vehicle access, remote vehicle locating and stolen vehicle recovery.

The Outback Limited comes standard with blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems. Subaru's EyeSight driver assist system is available for the Premium and Limited and includes the blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert systems, as well as a lane-departure warning and intervention system and a forward collision warning and mitigation system with automatic brake intervention. EyeSight can also detect pedestrians.

In government crash tests, the 2016 Subaru Outback earned a five-star overall rating, with five stars for total frontal crash protection and five stars for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Outback its highest possible rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof strength tests. Its seat/head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts. The IIHS also tested the Subaru Outback's optional frontal collision warning and mitigation system and awarded it a top rating of "Superior."

During Edmunds brake testing, a Subaru Outback 2.5 Limited came to a stop from 60 mph in 123 feet, which is an average distance for the segment.

Driving

For 2.5i versions of the 2016 Subaru Outback, there's enough power for safe highway merging, but load it up with people and gear and it feels overwhelmed, especially if you're driving at high elevation. Around town, the jumpy responsiveness of the gas pedal and the spongy brake pedal make the Outback harder to drive smoothly than it should be. The six-cylinder provides more punch, and if you frequently load up the car or live in a mountainous area, you're going to want this larger engine. With either engine, the CVT is pretty likable, as it reacts promptly to your gas pedal inputs and isn't affected as much by the annoying engine rpm quirks of other CVTs.

The 2016 Subaru Outback isn't very exciting to drive. Getting the six-cylinder engine might be a good idea.

Precise steering and revised suspension tuning make the 2016 Subaru Outback a competent handling wagon. The generous suspension travel endows the Outback with a plush ride, and road noise is quelled even over coarse pavement. The Outback is also more capable on light-duty trails than the typical small crossover. Getting to trailheads on dirt roads will be a snap.

Interior

The Outback's interior (along with the rest of the car) was completely redesigned for 2015. This year sees a few interior tweaks and more functionality for the infotainment system. If the car is equipped with navigation, that screen allows you to use the now-intuitive pinch-and-expand finger movements to zoom in or out. The rest of the center stack controls are easy to use, and there's a handy cell phone slot on the center console. Overall quality is high as well, with plenty of soft-touch materials around the cabin and convincing faux metallic and wood-tone accents.

You can carry a lot of stuff in the back of a 2016 Subaru Outback thanks to its 73.3 cubic feet of cargo room.

The front seats are generously padded and provide excellent all-day comfort. Still, some long-legged folks might wish for a bit more thigh support. You needn't spring for the leather-lined Limited model, as we are quite enamored of the soft, grippy cloth seats in the 2.5i Premium. There's plenty of room for the driver and front passenger to spread out. In back, headroom is only adequate for adults, but there is abundant legroom and hiproom.

Although the Outback is more of a station wagon than it is a tall and airy SUV, slim roof pillars give it superb outward visibility. Cargo capacity is also a strong point, as there are 35.5 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, which grows to 73.3 with the seatbacks dropped (easy to do thanks to rear-seat fold-down levers in the cargo area). The Outback's stance, which isn't as tall as an SUV's, also makes it a good choice if you frequently load gear on the roof.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 2016 Subaru Outback.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

Electrical drain
Tom E,08/07/2016
2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
No modern car should leave you stranded. After purchasing a brand new 2016 Outback Limited - the battery is completely drained in 13 days (with not using the vehicle). Dealer reports this is "normal!" WT_?!? That is NOT normal. I would have given higher ratings across the board had it not been for this crucial issue. You cannot park at the airport and go for a 2 week trip without getting stranded. Given this situation, if you buy one of these, also buy a 10mm wrench so you can disconnect the negative battery connection when you plan to take a trip. ... this is my wife's car, had it been mine I would have returned it - this is unacceptable. 2/8/17 Update: Returned from a trip and the OEM battery was depleted in 9 days. In multiple conversations with Subaru of America they have agreed to pay for a larger capacity battery. Prior to this vehicle ALL Subaru's use a Group 35 (640 CCA) battery, yet the vehicle is sold with a OEM Group 25 (only 550 CCA). Considering the vehicle has tons of electronics that is ALWAYS ON I'm dumbfounded that Subaru would roll these vehicles off the production line with such a small capacity battery. You either have to disconnect the battery (and it takes ~90 miles for the computers to fully reboot and restore all functions - like windows) or bring a jumper battery with you if you plan to park for any extended amount of time (even if the security system is not engaged). This remains unacceptable to me ... my wife isn't too worried about it. Costco carries the same batteries used by Subaru = Interstate Batteries. Costco carries the Group 35 for $75-80, or you can get the larger 700 CCA capacity 24F700 battery that has more lead to hold a charge longer - this is what I replaced the OEM with - I have not had a chance to test how long it will hold a charge when the vehicle is not in operation. What I would like Subaru to admit to is that the OEM battery is inadequate but they are not going to do that. It will take more than me complaining about this. Subaru is not alone, this is becoming more common across newer vehicles that have a lot of electronics you cannot turn off. BTW - none of this is mentioned in the owner's manual - and if it did, would you buy it? Overall - we are satisfied with the vehicle but not thrilled like we were and remain with the 1996 Subaru Legacy LSi Wagon (320,000+ miles), which remains my favorite = that's why it is 4 stars. The Outback is sturdy, reliable with the exception above, feels very safe, handles snow well, is comfortable, much bigger than the LSi, and competent. The electronic dash for the radio is difficult to use when driving as you cannot keep your finger in one place with the road bounce = I miss having actual knobs and being able to toggle between my favorite stations quickly and not having to look at the screen - thereby taking my eyes off the road. A good vehicle but I'm hesitant to purchase another because of the ability of the vehicle could leave me stranded - then again, perhaps any of the newer vehicles suffer the same fate. 2/9/18 update - no electrical problems with the larger battery. Last summer returned from a 2 week trip and the vehicle started fine with the battery attached. I don't know if that would have held true had it been for 3 weeks. I'm hearing either road noise from the tires or the transmission - a slight whining sound that we did not notice before - no change in driving behavior. Continue to average 25-27 mpg in mixed street/HWY driving. 8/10/18 update - no change from the last update. Average mileage has increased to 26-29 mpg. I used a trickle charger this summer to ensure the battery would not be drained. I still think Subaru should have a recall to replace the battery and submit a bulletin of the draining issue. 2/12/19 update - again no change from the last update. OEM tires are loud and are about half worn now (at 40k miles) - I look forward to replacing them when worn with some quiet tires (the 1996 Legacy wagon has Continental True Contact tires and they are fantastic - much better and quieter than the OEM's on the Outback). Car has not sat unused for more than a week in the past 6-months so I cannot report of the battery drainage is still a problem - I suspect it is as there would be no reason for an magical change. 8/13/19 update - Was out of town for 3 weeks and had a trickle charger on the battery to ensure the battery would not drain - this has worked - but this only works if you can add a trickle charger where you park for more than a week. OEM tires continue to be loud. Based on the wear pattern will need to replace by about 50k miles. 2/17/20 update - Ironically the Costco replacement battery started to fail and was replaced at cost by Costco. A weird thing we notice with the Subaru when you disconnect the battery is that it make take a day or two (or more) before you can control the passenger side window = very weird and inexplicable. Otherwise - same as before
Subaru Outback - flawless performance -
Bob,12/21/2015
2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
I have never even looked at Subaru's before becoming interested in one. After looking and driving virtually every other similar styled vehicle out there (small suv's/wagons) we decided on the Limited model pretty well loaded with most options available. Two weeks after buying we had an emergency 1,900 mile round trip come up. This vehicle never missed a beat entire trip, was very comfortable and I am well over 6' and about 265#. Didn't have much time to get used to the Subaru before having to leave so was not familiar with how everything worked, i.e. the navigation, radio system, lots of safety features but didn't take much to figure most of it out. We were in very heavy rains at end of trip and even in some pretty serious dust storms early in the drive. Have seen reviews indicating not enough power with the 4 cylinder but did not have any instance of not having sufficient power and did go up some pretty steep stuff. Acceleration while getting onto freeways and passing more than adequate. Some things hard to review at this time as no maintenance costs yet, purchase cost very good compared to other similar equipped vehicles we looked at. Obviously we have no idea of resale value at this time and warranty has not been used. Right now if we had it to do over again we would have purchased the exact same vehicle, seems to fit us perfectly. The dealer, Modesto Subaru has been excellent as has been the salesman, Ron Myers, who was able to answer all our questions well with absolutely no pressure at any time. Continued review after owning vehicle for slightly over 1 year now. Again, the Outback has been flawless and while the power is not like a turbo would be or 6 cylinder it is more than adequate for all our driving. Have got as high as 36mpg on a 200 mile round trip via highway and in town mileage when driving most of a tank has never been under 26mpg. Only maintenance costs have been for regular service which is only every 6 month's. Could not give 5 star on value as couldn't do that on any new car out there as simply all are expensive but would consider this Subaru a better value then any other vehicle in its class. Definitely worth anyone looking for similar type vehicles to test drive one to check them out.
A 98 out of 100
Edward,01/03/2016
3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl CVT)
This is my first Subaru. I traded in a 2012 Genesis in for the Outback. The Genesis was great but living in the northeast, the rear wheel drive was a problem on snowy days. I could have gotten an all wheel drive Genesis but I couldn't justify the 54k it would have cost. (I prefer my vehicles loaded). So after doing much research I decided on that the Outback a closer look. And when I saw it at the auto show in NY, I was surprised by the interior quality. I have only put a little over 1100 miles on it so far and find only a few things that I believe should see improvement. While driving I rest my left knee against the door. It needs more padding. The next item is the gas fill door release.. I challenge the engineers to find it at night when you pull into a gas station. It is on the floor between the seat and the door rim. Invest a couple engineering dollars and either move it to an easily found point within the drivers reach. ERGONOMICS PLEASE. (Have the switch illuminated). The last thing I will knitpick about is the rear door button that you must engage to close the hatch. That should also be illuminated. My 3.6 is loaded. It was almost impossible to find a 6 to test drive, and I was happy that I finally found a dealer that had one I could road test. The 4 would be ok if you did mostly stop and go city driving, but if you have 3 adults in it and you are merging with traffic on the highway you may want to open the windows and start beating your wings. The engine needs a lot of help. The 6 is just great. The ride quality is almost as nice as my Genesis, and I believe it takes the bumps better. The interior is top notch. Very little wind noise. And I am happy to say that I am getting better MPG than are advertised. All in all I believe you would be hard pressed to find a better car for the money. BTW, I ordered the car on Sep. 2 and had to wait 14 week's to receive it. I hope your wait is less. I made them kick in extras for the inconvenience.
I dare you to find a better car for the money!
Charles,12/06/2015
2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
Purchased '16 Limited edition of the Outback with just about everything the factory can install on it, plus a couple of dealer add-ons. It beat out the Hyundai Sante Fe Sport and Tucson, as well as the GMC Terrain. This car is comfortable given its off-road capability. It handles well on winding roads, and stops when you want it to stop. The Eyesight system works very well, and I absolutely love the rearview camera and cross-traffic warning system, especially in mall parking lots when next to tall suv's and pickup trucks. The entertainment system is a bit intimidating, but we are catching on slowly. The interior has leather appointments, making it easier to slid into and out of the vehicle with bulky winter clothing. Plus the additional clearance height means the seating is taller, making it easy to "climb" into and out. Pros include spacious interior (you don't feel cramped), the power rear gate, fuel economy, 10-way power driver seat, lots of interior storage cubbies and cup holders, and dash instrumentation. A couple of bothersome things to get used to: 1. door locks are not activated when car is put into or taken out of gear (get with it Subaru - first car in 25 years that I have owned that did not have that feature); 2. there is a lag in the transmission when switching from reverse to drive that requires you to stay on the brake pedal bit longer; 3. it takes a touch longer to get car moving when accelerating from a standing stop. The last two will resolve themselves over time as I get used to the vehicle. Overall we are very happy with the Outback, and look forward to driving it in all types of weather. It should be on your list of cars to test drive and evaluate.

Features & Specs

See all Used 2016 Subaru Outback features & specs

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover5 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover17.5%
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 Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2016 Subaru Outback

Used 2016 Subaru Outback Overview

The Used 2016 Subaru Outback is offered in the following submodels: Outback SUV. Available styles include 2.5i Limited PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl CVT), 2.5i PZEV 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT), and 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT).

What's a good price on a Used 2016 Subaru Outback?

Price comparisons for Used 2016 Subaru Outback trim styles:

  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited PZEV is priced between $14,748 and$22,097 with odometer readings between 27268 and113426 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium PZEV is priced between $13,711 and$19,000 with odometer readings between 32752 and108503 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited is priced between $15,911 and$23,268 with odometer readings between 26445 and108956 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited is priced between $16,495 and$20,995 with odometer readings between 32117 and83530 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium is priced between $14,500 and$21,190 with odometer readings between 64865 and117664 miles.
  • The Used 2016 Subaru Outback 2.5i PZEV is priced between $19,663 and$19,663 with odometer readings between 35284 and35284 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 2016 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) 2016 Subaru Outback for sale near. There are currently 32 used and CPO 2016 Outbacks listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $13,711 and mileage as low as 26445 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 2016 Subaru Outback.

Can't find a used 2016 Subaru Outbacks you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Subaru Outback for sale - 8 great deals out of 10 listings starting at $11,988.

Find a used Subaru for sale - 8 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $11,038.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru Outback for sale - 10 great deals out of 22 listings starting at $10,014.

Find a used certified pre-owned Subaru for sale - 4 great deals out of 15 listings starting at $15,374.

Should I lease or buy a 2016 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