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.
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.
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.
noise & vibration
ease of use
getting in/getting out
audio & navigation
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.