2019 Subaru Outback Review
2019 Subaru Outback Review
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Edmunds' Expert Review
Vehicle Test EngineerCalvin Kim is an automotive journalist at Edmunds.
- Spacious and comfortable cabin
- 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
- Sensitive gas pedal at low speeds
- Modest handling capabilities
- Subaru's EyeSight driver assist suite is now standard on all Outbacks
- Base 2.5i trim gets additional USB ports
- Part of the fifth Outback generation introduced for 2015
SUVs and wagons each have their unique places in the automotive spectrum. But what if you're not truly enamored with the format of either one? Thankfully, there's a solution: the 2019 Subaru Outback. It has the shape and driving style of a wagon but with the extra capability typically associated with an SUV.
Calculate my fuel costs
Cost to DriveCost to drive estimates for the 2019 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
Powering the Outback is one of two engines — an efficient 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder that produces 175 horsepower or a 3.6-liter flat-six with 256 hp. Both engines send power to Subaru's active all-wheel-drive system through a continuously variable automatic transmission. The standard engine isn't spritely, but it's capable enough that we think it's the engine to get. You can tow up to 2,700 pounds with it, too.
On the inside, the Outback is well-built and has a good selection of textures and materials. It doesn't look like the whole thing is one big sheet of cheap plastic. Subaru's EyeSight driver assist system is standard this year, as is a crisp-looking touchscreen that can interface with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible phones. And thanks to its standard swing-out roof rack crossbars, large cargo volume, and enhanced ground clearance, the Outback works great as a vehicle for recreational activities.
But the Outback's high stance and smooth ride do come with a penalty. The Outback doesn't inspire much confidence when driven in a sporty manner, and the high ground clearance means the Outback rolls and pitches when cornering and braking. Still, these are compromises that we're willing to accept in exchange for the Outback's go-anywhere, do-anything attitude. So if you're looking for a capable vehicle that smoothly combines the SUV and wagon titles, give the Subaru Outback a look.
Notably, we picked the 2019 Subaru Outback as one of Edmunds' Best Midsize SUVs for this year.
Edmunds' Expert Rating7.8 / 10
The all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback is in a unique position. It's considerably less expensive than off-road-friendly wagons from Volvo and Audi, and it drives much more like a car than similarly priced compact SUVs. This redesign brings a much-improved interior, fantastic seats and better fuel mileage, but the four-cylinder engine is still weak.
Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited (2.5L flat-4 | CVT automatic | AWD).
|Overall||7.8 / 10|
Instrumented performance is not a strong suit for the Subaru Outback. With the four-cylinder, acceleration can only be described as slow. Although its handling numbers aren't fantastic, the Outback shows its capabilities on bumpy back roads. Its off-road ability is better than most.
With the 175-hp 2.5-liter engine, acceleration is one of the weakest areas for the Outback. There's a dearth of power, and it takes a sluggish 10.2 seconds to hit 60 mph. Consider getting the six-cylinder engine (the 3.6R trim level) if quick acceleration is desired.
The brake pedal modulates well, making it easy to come to lurch-free stops. Because of a spongy pedal feel, the brakes don't seem all that powerful, even though actual braking performance in our testing proved to be adequate. The Outback has considerable nosedive when you jump on the brakes.
There's minor numbness when the steering wheel is centered, but otherwise the steering is precise, and the Outback turns just as you expect it to. The steering effort is moderate to heavy in feel.
Overall grip limits are low, and the tires start to squeal if you take turns with any aggression. The soft suspension results in significant body roll. Drive more modestly, though, and the Outback has an easy-to-control handling feel.
The Outback is easy to drive because of its cushy suspension, manageable size, and CVT automatic that doesn't wind the revs out too much. You can also put the gearbox into manual mode to fix your gear for specific off-road or sporty needs. At low speeds, some may find the gas pedal too responsive.
The Outback is one of the more rugged crossovers in the segment, and its well-tuned all-wheel-drive system boosts driver confidence in light off-roading. Ground clearance is good, with 8.7 inches at its lowest point. Tractional control works well to quell wheelspin when driving on loose surfaces.
The inside of the Outback is a great place to spend time on the road. The front and rear seats provide all-day comfort, and the soft suspension offers a smooth ride. But the car lets in more road and wind noise than we'd like, and longer-legged drivers will want additional lower thigh support.
The front seats are fantastically plush. They have supple leather, generously wide cushions and decent lateral bolstering. Door and center armrests are well-padded, and the driver's seat has power lumbar. The reclining rear seats also comfy; the seat bottoms could be longer for more thigh support.
The Outback has a soft, comfortable ride, thanks to plentiful suspension travel. Small ripples are soaked up with ease, and parking-lot speed bumps barely register. But strangely, certain big impacts at higher speeds make their way into the cabin.
Noise & vibration6.5
The Outback is a fairly quiet car, but with the low thrum of the flat-four engine, you're always aware that you're in a car. There is a moderate amount of wind noise and some tire noise over surface changes. The engine gets loud at high rpm, but the CVT automatic rarely lets it get up that high.
The analog controls are clearly labeled and easy to operate. The system cools effectively, and the fan speed settles down quickly for a quiet cabin. The seat heaters are controlled by clearly visible buttons.
There's a lot going on inside the Outback, but Subaru made sure that primary controls are all traditional analog systems. Thanks to its high ride height, getting in and out is a breeze. And once you're seated, the power seat and manually adjustable steering wheel have a broad range of adjustability.
Ease of use8.5
While the infotainment system is all touchscreen-based, the controls related to vehicle operation are simple, and the analog controls are within easy reach. The LCD digital clock and outside temp readouts are tiny and blend in with the climate control display.
Getting in/getting out8.0
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.
It's easy for the driver to find a comfortable position thanks to a wide seat with mild bolstering and a broad range of seat adjustability. The manual tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel has a good range of adjustability, and the rim is a good width for all hand sizes.
The front seats boast excellent headroom and plenty of elbow room. In back, adults will find a suitable amount of headroom and legroom. Foot space under front seats can be a bit scrunched, especially if the driver's seat is lowered all the way down.
The slim roof pillars all around make it easy to see out, as do the big rear windows. We also like the large side mirrors.
The interior has plenty of soft-touch materials in the interior, with nice-looking trim textures, too. The build quality is solid, and we experienced no squeaks or rattles with our test car, even when driving off-road.
The Outback is pretty versatile even though it's one of the smaller midsize SUVs. It has a lot of available cargo space in back and useful small-item storage areas for your knickknacks. It offers a decent amount of towing capability, too.
Two front cupholders don't have anti-tip tabs, so drinks may rattle around a little. We found the large compartment in front of the shifter useful for holding phones. The center console box is large enough to hold a DSLR camera. But the door pockets are narrow and short.
The Outback's rear cargo area provides 35.5 cubic feet of space. There's a fold-down grocery-bag hook as well as cargo hooks at each corner. You can fold down the 60/40-split rear seats from the side or by using the rear release levers. The 73.3 cubic feet of maximum cargo volume is decent for this class of vehicle.
Child safety seat accommodation8.0
Three upper LATCH anchors are located on the rear seatback and are not covered for easy access. There are four lower anchors, two per outboard seats, that are easily accessed behind labeled covers made of seat material.
The Outback is rated to tow 2,700 pounds with the four-cylinder engine or 3,000 pounds with the six-cylinder. That's a bit below average with the new crop of midsize SUVs arriving on scene. And given the four-cylinder's lack of power, we'd only recommend towing if you've got the 3.6R.
What the Outback gives up in performance it makes up for in technology. Most all digital systems are controlled through the touchscreen. It has a bright, high-contrast display, with large buttons and clear text. Setting up your phone is easy, and there are plenty of ports to charge your devices.
Audio & navigation7.0
Our Limited test car had the 12-speaker, 576-watt Harman Kardon system. We found the midranges to be light, though audio quality was clear. Only the Touring model comes with standard navigation, but standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto let you use Apple Maps or Google Maps to handle nav duty.
Your devices can be connected to the car via an aux-in jack, Bluetooth and USB connection. Pairing is easy, and there are additional USB jacks for charging in both front and rear seats. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on every Outback. There are also three 12-volt power sockets.
Subaru's EyeSight provides adaptive cruise control, front collision mitigation, and lane departure warning. The Outback also comes with blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert and parking sensors. Adaptive cruise works to a full stop, but it may vary by 1 or 2 mph from the set speed.
The Starlink voice recognition system handles commands for audio, telephone and, optionally, navigation. It recognizes most commands on the first try as long as you speak in the system's preferred format. Even the climate control system can be controlled via voice.
Which Outback does Edmunds recommend?
Our choice for the ideal Outback is the 2.5i Premium. It comes with a bright and large 8-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control, and heated, power-adjustable front seats. Priced competitively to a similarly equipped Honda CR-V or Toyota RAV4, the Outback also gets you a robust all-wheel-drive system, clever fold-away roof rails, and better standard technology features. Although the 2.5-liter engine isn't a standout in acceleration, it's good enough as long as you don't plan on towing.
2019 Subaru Outback models
The 2019 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 use a more powerful six-cylinder engine.
Subaru Outback 2.5i
The base 2.5i starts with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (175 hp, 174 lb-ft) and a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that feeds power to all four wheels. Standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, hill descent control, hill hold assist, a rearview camera, roof rails with integrated crossbars, and a 60/40-split folding rear seat.
On the technology front, you get Bluetooth, Subaru's Starlink 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and a four-speaker sound system with a CD player and a USB interface. Standard safety equipment comes from Subaru's EyeSight driver assist functionality. This system includes adaptive cruise control, front collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
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, a power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a cargo cover, a bigger 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, three additional USB ports (one front and two rear), and six speakers for the sound system. The Power Moonroof package adds the obvious, plus an auto-dimming rearview mirror. A power liftgate with memory height is also optional, as is blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited
The 2.5i Limited gets the blind-spot monitoring and the power liftgate and further adds 18-inch wheels, 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. LED headlights are optional on the 2.5i Limited. The 3.6R Limited gets a more powerful engine, but it is otherwise the same as the 2.5i Limited.
Navigation is available on Premium and Limited models. The Outback Limited can be equipped with automatic braking for rear collisions.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring
The 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring trims include the standard features and options from the Premium and Limited trims. They also have different 18-inch wheels, dark exterior trim, fixed low-profile roof rails without crossbars, premium leather upholstery, wood grain interior trim, and a heated steering wheel.
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful consumer reviews
5 out of 5 stars
Surprised at how much we love this car
2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
We had a 2016 Forester and we liked it, but didn't love it, so when we were looking to trade in our lease Subaru wasn't really a top contender. Luckily, we were distracted by a move when our lease was coming due, so we had to find a new car fast. We wanted to purchase and Subaru offered 0% financing. As it turned out, we needed a 60 month plan, but that was still offered at 1.9% … financing. The car was nice, but it wasn't until we got it home that we realized how wonderful it is. The color is gorgeous- we got a brown cinammon :). But what has blown me away is the intuitiveness of all the features. The headlamps track the road in front of you, making night driving a lot easier. The rear camera is so crystal clear compared to our old Forester. The car play feature is so easy to use and makes driving safer with the huge screen. The car handles beautifully and though formal reviews say the pick up lags, my husband and I don't feel that way at all. The car accelerates smoothly. We also love the storage in the back. I think we will be enjoying this car for years to come. I'm so glad we went with another Subaru. I absolutely love getting in this car as it is a pleasure to drive.
5 out of 5 stars
The Subaru for people who want a Subaru.
2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
I’ll preface this by saying that I’m a twenty-something, recent college graduate and professional. Not exactly a stereotypical Outback owner. The Outback doesn’t appear to be as big as it is, either from the driver’s seat or from the outside. You won’t get a true idea of the size until you park next to what you though was a “big SUV”, only to realize your Outback is longer, or until … you open the hatch and marvel at the cavernous cargo area. It feels small when you need it to be small and big when you need it to be big. In typical Subaru fashion, the interior is very unassuming and functional, but doesn’t feel cheap at all. Everything you touch is soft or textured. Switches and buttons feel solid and well made. The seats have adjustable lumbar support and are very soft and comfortable. The black cloth is very dark, which makes dog hair and other particles visible, so go with the gray if that bothers you. The 8.0 inch infotainment screen does an average job. It checks all the boxes (BlueTooth, CarPlay, Android Auto etc.), but the interface can be laggy at times, even while using CarPlay. It also has a few gimmicky features. The sound quality is fantastic. It also features a menu called “car info” which gives you mechanical info on how the AWD system is distributing power, as well as oil temperature, instant MPG and average speed and service reminders. There’s a second large color display in the instrument cluster which displays MPG info, MPH, tire pressures and the Eyesight system’s status. There’s also a settings menu which is difficult to navigate and mostly just repeats vehicle settings from the infotainment screen’s settings menu. The driving controls are simple. The shifter has 5 positions: P, R, N, D and M. The manual mode requires shifting to drive then pulling the selector towards the driver, so you’ll never engage it by accident when selecting drive. There’s no gimmicky sport buttons or drive mode selection knobs. The parking brake is electronically engaged, which saves weight and mechanical complexity on the rear axle. Pull the switch up to engage or push it down to disengage. The brake pedal has a decent amount of travel and is neither touchy nor soft. The throttle response is also much improved over earlier Subaru models, it’s no longer overly touchy at slow speeds. The engine is not underpowered for ordinary driving. If you like to tow a trailer or frequently pass other cars on a two lane road, get the 6 cylinder. The 4 cylinder is smooth and quiet. The CVT is also very good, and that’s coming from someone who used to think they hated CVTs. Under normal acceleration the Outback wafts up to speed at a constant RPM. I never have to push it past 2500RPM in normal driving. If you do give it a little more accelerator, the CVT simulates gearshifts, which gives a sporty feel and eliminates the droning sound of an engine at constant RPM. The torque converter lockup is fairly aggressive and can be felt when accelerating from a stop. On the Crosstrek this was very intrusive, but on the Outback it’s just noticeable, not intrusive. The owner’s manual will state that some transmission noise is to be expected, since Subaru uses a chain type pulley, but in reality there is only a very slight whir that can be heard just before coming to a stop when the windows are down. Outward visibility is exceptionally great. All windows and mirrors are oversized. Blind spot assist is optional and a backup camera is standard, but neither are necessary to drive the Outback. The Eyesight system is also remarkably good. I have experience with a handful of other adaptive cruise control systems and Eyesight is easily the smoothest and most accurate in its class. It even warns you if you fail to react when the car in front of you has moved. The Eyesight features are highly customizable through the instrument cluster menus. Ride and handling are excellent. Large bumps are easily absorbed, but the Outback still feels stable and tight. There is some body roll when cornering, but much less than you would expect for a vehicle of this size. There is a bit of noise on rough surfaces, however I believe that is a result of the factory Bridgestone tires.
5 out of 5 stars
A best value SUV option
2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
We've owned three Subaru’s - most recently bought our second Outback. Our prior Outback was 4 years old - one key change that is apparent is that the vehicle is substantially quieter, which make the overall experience better, car seems more put together and luxurious. Was told that they add sound deadening into the vehicle and add acoustical front glass - it worked. We test drove Mazda … SUVs and Acura RDX before purchasing. Subaru’s felt substantially better that the Mazda's. While the RDX had allot more to offer and was very fast - it was also almost $10k more expensive, so we passed. The touring has all the bells and whistles that come with eye sight/lane keep/adaptive cruise control, rear brake stop/cross traffic alert as well as responsive LED headlamps - and there is a learning curve required to get comfortable with it all, so be patient. Subaru dealer (Serra)was great - they walked us thru everything when we picked up the vehicle and then came to our house a couple weeks later to review the features again and ensure we were comfortable with how they operated. We've owned 6 Acura’s and they have never done that! The engineering that goes into Subaru’s is evident - the boxer engine not only provides improved handling due the low center of gravity, but also aides in front crash protection by preventing cabin intrusion. You can see the roll bar protection engineered into the door and frame that I just don’t see as clearly in other vehicles. The outback is a great value - combining unique styling, flexibility, innovative engineering, high quality and great dealer service. I can see us continuing to buy Subaru’s as long as they keep advancing their products with eth changing technologies. Looking forward to seeing how Subaru embraces electric vehicles and autonomous technologies.
5 out of 5 stars
2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited 4dr SUV AWD (2.5L 4cyl CVT)
This car is amazing. I traded my 2009 jeep commander for an outback in November and all i can say is that i love this car. I use it for field work as well as a daily driver and the outback is just as capable as the was jeep offroad. I have read a lot of reviews about acceleration and being described as "slow". This is all relative to the reviewer but after test driving everything from … the new pickups to passenger cars, would describe the acceleration on the 2.5 as being average to slightly above average. The fuel economy is fantastic, average 30mph on the highway/interstate (80mph) and i'm getting 23mpg in town. I'm 6' tall and this car comfortably fits a car seat in the back without having to move the driver or passenger seat forward. I am also i'm very please with the cargo space in the back, as well as the easy roof rail system is great for hiding the rails to reduce highway noise when my bike is not in the rack. technology and everything being very user friendly is also a huge bonus. Like i said in the title, this car is very underrated and in my opinion kills the domestic competitors when comparing similar vehicles.
2019 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 spots 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 Rollover17.4%
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 TestGood
- 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
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