2017 Subaru Outback Review
2017 Subaru Outback Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Dan spent many years covering the go-fast, look-good, get-loud corners of the automotive universe. First, he served as editor of enthusiast magazines AutoSound and Honda Tuning, then as executive editor at SEMA News, the publishing arm of the trade group that produces the annual SEMA Show (yes, that show). As a contributor to Edmunds, he now likes to keep the volume low and the speed limit legal, providing expert car-shopping advice to drivers looking for the perfect match.
- More spacious and comfortable cabin than many of its competitors
- Roof and cargo loading heights are lower than those of most SUVs
- Excellent visibility in all directions
- Off-road ability is above average
- Acceleration is lackluster, especially with four-cylinder engine
- Gas and brake pedal feel make it hard to drive four-cylinder smoothly
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.
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.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT) and comparison vehicles are based on 15,000 miles per year (with a mix of 55% city and 45% highway driving) and energy estimates of $3.12 per gallon for regular unleaded in Virginia.
Monthly estimates based on costs in Virginia
$139/mo for Outback 2.5i
Avg. Midsize 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.
Notably, we picked the Subaru Outback as one of Edmunds' Best Used SUVs for 2017.
Edmunds' Expert Rating4.0 / 5
Whether you're searching specifically for a wagon or you're simply open to an SUV alternative, the 2017 Subaru Outback is worth a look. It's built for rugged versatility but offers a level of comfort and refinement perfect for long drives on or off pavement.
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.
|Overall||4.0 / 5|
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.
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.
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.
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.
There's significant body roll when rounding corners in the Outback, so it doesn't feel particularly nimble.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 & vibration3.0
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.
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 use4.5
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 out4.0
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With its easily accessible cargo area, spacious rear seats and low roofline, the Outback offers excellent all-around utility.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Which Outback does Edmunds 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.
2017 Subaru Outback models
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.
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Bobby W, 12/07/2016
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
My wife and I did an exhaustive comparison between the Outback Limited, KIA Sorrento, Nissan Rogue, Hyundai Santa Fe and the Toyota Rav 4. We test drove each of the models above -some of them two or three times. We compared features, poured over projected reliability data and read countless forums about each model. I even contacted the Service Managers at each dealership in an attempt … to gleen information about common problems. In the end, the Subaru Outback excelled in every category, including advanced safety features like the Eyesight technology. Moreover, the ride of the Outback handled better and seemed more comfortable, as well as more responsive in our test drive than the other models. Subaru's Symmetrical All Wheel Drive was also a key factor in our decision. It is a superior system and due to the design, eliminates torque steer due to engine weight displacement during emergency handling. Less important features, like the self-storing roof crossbars, which eliminate drag and wind noise, pointed to the overall intelligent engineering of the vehicle. Little details like that are indications of practical design that I believe extend throughout the car. The comfort and convenience features are as nice as any $40-50,000 car. I should point out that choosing a new car in this category was not easy. Some of the other manufacturers have very competitive cars with outstanding feautures. But in the end, after literally months of research, we chose the 2017 Subaru Outback Limited because it seemed superior and met our needs. We are extremely happy with our decision.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited is great!
Marques E., 09/21/2016
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl CVT)
I took advantage of the August 2016 Zero down, Zero % APR offer from Subaru to purchase this car. The Outback was on my short list of new cars; I also considered the Kia Sorento, the Ford Edge, the Subaru Forrester, and Toyota Highlander, Mazda CX-5 & CX-9. After test drives, much number crunching and internet research and opinions from friends, I went with the Subaru Outback. I love … this car! It is quick, quiet, well-upholstered, and has the active safety features I was looking for. DETAILED REVIEWS Engine & Transmission: I have never had a car with a CVT before and I read lots of articles denigrating CVTs. However, as I do not care if my car makes sports car "vroom vroom" sounds or if it shifts like a Ferrari, I did not care about the presence of the CVT (although almost every "car guy" review does). The CVT in this car is super-smooth, except for a *very* slight stuttering at very low speed (< 5 mph) under low acceleration. Past that, the powertrain is nice and smooth, and the flat 6 does a great job getting the car up to highway speed. If you are happy with a sub-7 second 0-60 time (6.9 sec), then you will be happy with the 3.6R. Fuel economy numbers seem to be as advertised. Most of my driving is "city" driving and I drive fast (trying to change this) so after 1 month of ownership I have been averaging 21 MPG. My previous car was a diesel that averaged over 40 MPG during the summer, but the Outback is larger, more powerful, quicker, much nicer, and the fuel (87 octane) is cheaper so it balances out. Interior Trim: I have nothing but praise for the fit and finish of the cabin. The Trim of the 3.6R Limited Edition is great; smooth and attractive to the eye. The (fake?) wood trim is nice, but I do not feel it adds that much to the car. Interior Comfort: I am 6'-1" and this car has plenty of room, front and back. I love the lumbar support of the front seats, but some reviews called it "aggressive lumbar support. The lumbar support sticks out more than any other car I every had, but MY lower back loves it. My wife, at 5'-6", does not, which does not surprise me. It does not appear that the lumbar support can be lowered enough to accommodate her. She says the back seats are comfortable, so that is nice. The seats are just the right amount of firmness for me. Exterior: My main complaint is driver's side visibility. The visibility out of the driver's side mirror is poor IMHO and leaves a huge blind spot. So much that the active safety features for the left side of the car are NEEDED, otherwise you will strain your neck checking your left. The driver's side mirror is of little help. If you can live with that, everything else is great. I think the styling is very nice, great for a wagon and still distinct from other crossover SUVs. Also, mine is Venetian Red which makes it look even better ;-) Electronics/Infotainment: I do not use Subaru's Navigation system because I have Waze and Google Maps on my smartphone, so I cannot rate that Subaru's system. UPDATE - 9/27/2016: I tried it once and it worked fine although the controls are not intuitive. I believe by 2016-17 most people have a smartphone with some type of navigation app built-in that gets frequently updated, so I do not see much point in the USA for Subaru to put much effort into developing a top-of-the-line navigation system. However, if for some reason your phone is dead/lost, and you do not have paper maps (what's wrong with you?!) then this system would be adequate. My phone is linked via Bluetooth to my car (easy to do) and I exclusively listen to Pandora and Spotify through it. So much that I still have not learned how to fully operate the HD radio, such as setting preset stations, et.! When I get around to checking out the HD radio, I will update this review. Cargo: I have not tested the car's cargo capacity yet, but cargo capacity was one of the main reasons for choosing the Outback so I am sure it will great. The molded Styrofoam compartment underneath the cargo area floor mat has lots of little trays that can be used to hold a surprising amount of supplies in an organized fashion. Right now, I keep a voltmeter, bungee cords, flat repair kit and some other useful knickknacks in there. Also, the center console compartment is deep, great for storing the stuff you will use most often. Safety: The two things I insisted on when deciding on purchasing the 2017 Outback were: a 6-cylinder engine and the Eyesight system. The IIHS gives the Eyesight system its highest rating (Superior), which at the time of my research was only shared with Kia's system. Human error is the overwhelming cause of car accidents, and I believe automated systems that HELP us prevent accidents are highly desirable. The Eyesight system works great, although the lane-keeping sensor is a bit sensitive in my opinion. That's it for now. I am really enjoying this car and I hope you do as well.
5 out of 5 stars
2017 Subaru Outback Touring 3.6R
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl CVT)
I bought this for my wife and wanted her to have all the best technology when it comes to safety. We identified the car we wanted and then did a factory order through a dealer for the exact color, trim level and accessories we wished for. The Eye Sight system is amazing and in my opinion worth every penny. We compared this car against the Audi Q5 and Acura RDX, based on everything … that was important to us the Outback was just a much better value. One thing I learned early on in my research is that all AWD systems are not the same. Subaru really has a great story to tell regarding their symmetrical AWD system. Acura's new AWD system falls a little short and Audi's AWD is in my opinion the only one that can truly go toe to toe with Subaru on this point. I am very happy with selecting the 3.6R over the base engine as the one constant complaint I seen from hundreds of reviews was related to the base engine being underpowered. I can tell you the 3.6R offers plenty of acceleration, smoother and quieter engine operation and a more satisfying experience. Yes you take a little hit on gas mileage, but if that was my primary consideration I would have bought a small compact hybrid. The touring interior is on par with the Acura RDX and close but a little short of the Audi Q5. The safety technology on this car was much better then the the Audi Q5 and a little better then the RDX. Outward visibility is terrific in this car and ranks among the best of any car we have ever owned. The heated back seats with recline is a nice touch for passenger comfort, wish they would have included seat ventilation also for those days when our temps are in the triple digits. Like other reviewers stated the handling for a SUV/SUW is very good and you feel confidant and in control even when coming into a tighter then expected corner at a faster then desired speed. We have owned many luxury and non luxury cars over the years. While the Subaru brand does not communicate the prestige of some of the German or Luxury Japanese brands. The practicality, safety, resale, reliability and price of the Subaru far out ways any need for pretentiousness on our part. So in summary, if you are looking for a near luxury car for over ten thousand less then comparable vehicles and don't care about the badge on the front, or are looking for a very nice car with the latest and best safety features and technology the 2017 Subaru Outback Touring/Limited should be on your shortlist.
5 out of 5 stars
Outback 3.6R Limited...falling in love...fast!
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited 4dr SUV AWD (3.6L 6cyl CVT)
It was time to give up the 12 year old daily driver (Jaguar x-type awd with manual transmission - LOVED this car, just did not want to part with it). Needed an all wheel drive car that could fit the family and all of our stuff. Test drove the Range Rover Evoque, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Audi Q5, a couple of Mercedes 4matic vehicles, and my wife has been driving Volvo for over a … decade. Each time I drove one those previously mentioned brands there was something that I didn't like, but assured myself that I would get over it. Did a ton of research and kept coming away with the thought that getting over something when paying for a $45,000+ car just did not make sense. On a whim I decided to include Subaru on the last "luxury brand" internet searches...then decided to walk the lot of the local Subaru dealership. So thankful I did! As soon as we left on the first test drive of a 2017 Outback 3.6R Limited I was hooked. Unlike the other brands, there was nothing I did not like. No beeps, no over-technology, the interior trim and leather is Mercedes 350-level-nice, the visibility and sight lines are great, the sound system is awesome and the seats are comfortable. Then, we got to driving...I like to drive...and while it's a big vehicle, it does not drive like a big vehicle. It has an unexpected 4 corner balance to it and, really nice, dare I say "fun" power band. I took the thing through it's paces and didn't want the test drive to end. Went home to "digest" and then went back that night to drive it again...and then bought that very vehicle two days later. Stunned how much I like it...dare I say...love..this wagon? SUV? Cross-over? Don't care what you call it...other than possibly the best, most underrated and unexpected value I have ever come across. To be fair, this is the 3.6R with the bigger wheels. Drove the 2.5 before purchasing just to be sure (some reviews say there is not a big difference unless you are towing...don't believe it, drive them both...), and let's just say the power level of the 2.5 was not my cup of tea. Also, I am not a "technology" guy - all I wanted was Bluetooth and a sunroof - the Limited had both...and while the "Eye-sight" system seems like a great idea, I am anti-beeps and boops coming from the car while I am driving, thus no need for that either. UPDATE: June 2017 - little more than 6 months and 7500 miles later...still love it! Not a single complaint! UPDATE: Dec 2018 - 52,000 miles...still love it. Update: June 2019 - 66,000 miles...yep, still love it...
2017 Subaru Outback video
TRAVIS LANGNESS: I'm Travis Langness, Edmunds editor, with the Expert Rundown of the 2017 Subaru Outback. For 2017, the Outback gets a new snazzy Touring model and it gets some added utility. It also gets safety features, like reverse automatic braking and the Subaru EyeSight system, which we've really come to enjoy. The Outback is a mid-size wagon, but it's really competing with SUVs. It's got a high ground clearance, as high as vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. And it's definitely an alternative choice to your traditional SUV or crossover segment. If you think of the Outback as a competitor to vehicles like the CRV and the RAV4, it's actually got better comfort and more utility, it's a little bit bigger on the inside, and also has decent fuel economy. The standard four-cylinder gets 28 MPG combined. And the six-cylinder is rated at 22 MPG combined. It's got decent off-road ability too. Acceleration isn't that great. That's one of the low points with the Outback, especially with that four-cylinder engine. So we definitely recommend upgrading to the six-cylinder. We recommend the 2.5i Premium level. It's nicely equipped. It's got heated front seats and a good mix of tech. And it gets rid of the frills and fuss. Bottom line, the Subaru Outback has the utility of an SUV with the drivability of a wagon. It's a great choice. And you shouldn't pass it up. For more reviews of key competitors, go to YouTube and check out more of the Edmunds Expert Rundowns.
2017 Subaru Outback First Look
Looking for a great midsize wagon with lots of interior space and ground clearance? The 2017 Subaru Outback might be a good match. Here's a quick rundown of what we like, what we don't and the bottom line from the Edmunds editors.
2017 Outback Highlights
|Combined MPG||28 MPG|
|Cost to Drive||$139/month|
|Cargo Capacity |
All Seats In Place
|Drivetrain||all wheel drive|
|Warranty||3 years / 36,000 miles|
Our experts like the Outback models:
- 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 spot and shows visual indicator in side mirror. Indicator also warns of unsafe lane change.
- Starlink Safety and Security Plus
- Notifies first responders if an airbag deploys. Can also connect to emergency or roadside assistance services.
NHTSA Overall Rating5 out of 5 stars
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover4 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover17.5%
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
- Small Overlap Front Driver-Side TestGood
- Small Overlap Front Passenger-Side TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – OriginalGood
- Moderate Overlap Front Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Side Impact Test – OriginalGood
- Side Impact Test – UpdatedNot Tested
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood