2017 Subaru Outback

2017 Subaru Outback Review

Rugged and versatile, yet still offers plenty of comfort and refinement.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Dan Frio
Edmunds Editor

There are vehicles roughly in the same ballpark as the 2017 Subaru Outback, but nothing plays the same position. The Outback is a midsize wagon with standard all-wheel drive and about the same ground clearance as a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's definitely an alternative choice but also checks so many practical boxes that it's a must-drive for anyone looking for a reasonably priced crossover SUV.

The Outback has the interior space of midsize models such as the Ford Edge and Kia Sorento, but its lower roof makes it easier to load gear, and its higher ground clearance gets it over rocks and through deep snow without a snag. The Outback holds similar advantages over smaller SUVs including the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru's own Forester, with the further benefit of greater comfort and refinement. And with fuel economy rated at 28 mpg combined (with the four-cylinder) and 22 mpg combined (six-cylinder), the Outback offers good efficiency for its size and purpose. If you like wagons, the 2017 Outback offers a just-right mix of attributes that could make your vehicle search a one-stop affair.



what's new

For 2017, the Subaru Outback gets a new, snazzier Touring model that trades some utility for added style. The Outback's excellent safety credentials are further burnished with the addition of reverse automatic braking and automatic high beams to the well-regarded EyeSight suite of accident avoidance tech.

we recommend

If you simply need a big wagon that can get down and dirty for not a lot of money, it's hard to beat a 2.5i Premium. Nicely equipped with heated front seats and a good mix of tech, it's a great choice that dispenses with fuss and frills.




trim levels & features

The 2017 Subaru Outback is a five-passenger wagon that comes in six trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring. The base model covers the essentials (roof rails, Bluetooth), while Premium and Limited trims include conveniences such as heated seats, leather and satellite radio. Touring trims are fully loaded, and 3.6R models have similar equipment but add a more powerful six-cylinder engine.

The base 2.5i starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (175 horsepower, 174 pound-feet of torque) and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that feeds power to all four wheels. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, hill descent control, hill holding assist, automatic headlights, a rearview camera, roof rails (with integrated cross bars), air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a height-adjustable driver seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, Bluetooth connectivity, Subaru's Starlink 6.2-inch touchscreen interface, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack, a USB-iPod interface and various smartphone-integration apps.

The 2.5i Premium adds rear privacy glass, heated exterior mirrors, a windshield wiper de-icer, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-way power driver seat (with two-way power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, a cargo cover, a bigger 7-inch touchscreen, voice controls, Bluetooth text messaging connectivity, satellite radio, an additional USB port and a six-speaker sound system. The Power Moonroof package adds the obvious plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power liftgate with memory height is also optional.

The 2.5i Limited bundles the Premium options plus 18-inch wheels, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, a front bumper underguard, keyless ignition and entry, leather upholstery, driver-seat memory functions, a four-way power passenger seat, rear air vents, heated rear seats and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Xenon headlights are optional on the 2.5i Limited.

The 3.6R Limited gets the xenon headlights as standard equipment and a more powerful engine, but it is otherwise the same as the 2.5i Limited.

The Premium and Limited trims can be upgraded with a navigation system as well as the Driver Assist Technology package that includes the EyeSight system, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, steering-responsive foglights and upgraded gauges. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are included in the Premium version of that package.

The 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring trims include the standard features and options from the Premium and Limited trims, as well as the Driver Assist Technology package. Touring models also have different 18-inch wheels, dark exterior trim, fixed low-profile roof rails without crossbars, simulated-leather extended interior trim, upgraded leather upholstery and a heated steering wheel.



trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited (2.5L 4-cyl.; AWD; CVT automatic).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Subaru Outback has received some revisions, including revised steering feel, updated suspension tuning on Limited models and additional safety features. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's 2017 Subaru Outback.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Driving

3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration2.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering4.0 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.5 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort4.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.5 / 5.0

Ease of use4.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Roominess4.5 / 5.0
Visibility5.0 / 5.0

Driving

edmunds rating
The four-cylinder is slow to accelerate, and handling performance isn't fantastic. The Outback is much more adept when it comes to handling bumpy back roads or snowy highways.

Acceleration

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One of the Outback's weakest areas, at least if you go with the four-cylinder engine (175 hp) instead of the 3.6-liter six-cylinder (256 hp). There's not much power with the four-cylinder ever, and it takes 9.6 seconds to reach 60 mph.

Braking

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The brakes don't feel all that powerful around town, with a spongy pedal feel. At our test track, the Outback stopped from 60 mph in 123 feet and did it with considerable nosedive.

Steering

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This is a precise system that responds quickly to input. Effort is appropriate, though some drivers will feel it errs a bit on the heavy side.

Handling

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There's significant body roll when rounding corners in the Outback, so it doesn't feel particularly nimble.

Drivability

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Aside from the Outback's abrupt gas pedal, this is an easy car to drive, with a soft suspension, a manageable size and a CVT that doesn't wind out the revs too much.

Off-road

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The standard all-wheel drive adds confidence to light off-roading, and it's a well-tuned system. The Outback is more rugged than most crossovers or other wagons. Ground clearance is better than most.

Comfort

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We were suitably impressed by the Outback's seats, both front and rear, which provide all-day comfort. The soft suspension delivers a smooth ride quality, but there's more road and wind noise than we'd like.

Seat comfort

edmunds rating
The front seats are fantastically plush with supple leather and generously wide with lateral support. The door and center armrests are well-padded, and the driver's seat has power lumbar adjustment. The rear seats are also comfy, though the cushions are on the short side.

Ride comfort

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A generally soft, comfortable ride, thanks to plentiful suspension travel. Parking-lot speed bumps barely even register. It soaks up small ripples with ease, but strangely, certain big hits at speed come through to the cabin.

Noise & vibration

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There's some tire noise over road surface changes, a bit of tire hum and wind noise from the side mirror/front roof pillar window area. The engine only gets loud at high rpm, and the transmission rarely lets it wind out that far. Engine noise on the highway is hardly noticeable. Quiet idle, too.

Interior

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Subaru did a nice job updating the Outback's interior controls from the last generation. Beyond that, all the previous Outback goodness remains: plenty of passenger and cargo room and terrific outward visibility.

Ease of use

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All controls are within easy reach. We like the old-school, single-knob mirror controls. Temperature knobs and buttons are large and easy to use. The new navigation touchscreen has large icons and quick responses. The digital clock and outside temperature readouts are tiny.

Getting in/getting out

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The front doors are large and open wide, making entry a snap. But the tall ride height and wide rocker panels make it harder to step out. The rear doors don't open wide, but it's still easy to get in and out thanks to near-perfect step-in height.

Driving position

Essentially the Outback is a tall-riding car, and that's what it feels like to drive it. Although it's lower to the ground than most typical SUVs, the height from the driver's seat feels more SUV than wagon.

Roominess

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Excellent front headroom and really good elbow room thanks to the big door cutouts. In the rear, there's decent headroom and good elbow room and kneeroom. Foot space under the front seats can be a bit scrunched.

Visibility

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There are slim pillars all around, especially the side roof pillars just behind the driver's head. The big rear window and large side windows make for minimal blind spots. Large side mirrors. All trims have a backup camera as standard equipment.

Quality

Compared to the last generation, this current Outback is a huge step up for Subaru. The interior has plenty of soft-touch material on the dash, window sills and door inserts. The trim textures are nice too, with convincing fake wood on the Limited. The controls feel solid and work well.

Utility

With its easily accessible cargo area, spacious rear seats and low roofline, the Outback offers excellent all-around utility.

Small-item storage

The front bin has a security door, and the armrest bin is two-tiered. Cupholders lack anti-tip functionality, but the cellphone slot is excellent.

Cargo space

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Power hatch opens wide, and there's 35.5 cubic feet of space behind upright rear seats. A sturdy rubber mat helps keep cargo from sliding around and reduces worry about dirty, muddy items. Max cargo capacity is 73.3 cubes. The boxy shape and low liftover point make for easy loading of large items.

Towing

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The Outback is rated to tow 2,700 pounds with the four-cylinder, or 3,000 pounds with the six-cylinder. Those are better numbers than those of the base Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4.

Technology

The Outback is graced with a modern and reasonably user-friendly touchscreen interface, available in either 6.2- or 7-inch sizes. Some functions require unnecessary dexterity, but it's one of the easier systems to use. Also packed with abundance of features and smartphone-connectivity apps.

Audio & navigation

The 2.5i Limited offers a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio upgrade that includes a subwoofer. Navigation is optional on Premium and Limited trims and features clear graphics and pinch-zoom functionality.

Smartphone integration

Starlink Multimedia uses an iPhone or Android smartphone to activate on-board voice-controlled apps such as Pandora and iHeartRadio. Allows voice-to-text messaging ability. Premium and Limited trims also include Siri Eyes Free to control iPhone functions through voice commands.

Driver aids

The EyeSight driver assist system bundles adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and intervention, and forward collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking. EyeSight can also detect pedestrians.

edmunds expert 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.