The Subaru Outback is a versatile and comfortable wagon with good capability and confidence-inspiring safety ratings. Add pricing that makes it affordable, and it’s a solid entry in the crowded crossover marketplace.
What is it?
Subaru isn’t a glamorous brand, but that’s not why people buy a Subie. They’re affordable and reliable vehicles and the Outback shows off what Subaru does right. Plenty of ground clearance keeps you from getting stuck when the snow piles high and its safety ratings make it a no-brainer for families.
Pricing and trims
Pricing for the base Subaru Outback 2.5i with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder Subaru Boxer engine starts at $25,645 with all-wheel drive standard across the lineup. Premium, Limited, and Touring trims offer ever greater features with pricing for the Touring coming in at $35,995. The Limited and Touring are also available with a more powerful 3.6-liter Subaru Boxer 6-cylinder engine that ups the price on those trims by about $2,500.
Our test model was the 2.5i Limited with a price of $35,260 including options.
Standard safety features on every Outback include all-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, vehicle dynamic control, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, rearview camera, and daytime running lights. Optional on some trims and standard on higher trims are advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning and blind spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross traffic alert.
Advanced safety features are bundled primarily into two packages, neither of which is available on the base trim. EyeSight driver assist is a $1,995 option on the Premium and Limited, but standard on the Touring. Starlink safety and security, which includes automatic collision notification, SOS emergency service, and roadside assistance is standard on all but the base trim level.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet rated the 2017 Outback, but the 2016 model year received its highest available ratings. It was rated Good in every crash test and Superior for crash avoidance mitigation, which made it a 2016 Top Safety Pick+.
The base engine for the Outback is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder with 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. Opt for the 3.6-liter 6-cylinder and you get a significant boost to 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft of torque. The smaller engine does surprisingly well, but those looking for a more responsive drive should give the larger engine a test drive.
That little 4-cylinder is a responsive engine. It is quiet during hard acceleration and easily merges into highway traffic. Pressed to accelerate at highway speeds for passing slower vehicles, it is slightly hesitant but quickly recovers to give you the power you need.
Your only transmission choice is a continuously variable transmission. These aren’t much loved due to their often annoying whine, but the Outback’s CVT is commendably quiet and unobtrusive.
The Outback is a comfortable and pleasant car to drive. Its suspension evens out the bumps, and road and wind noise are minimal. Those who like a more spirited drive experience may find it lacking, but most drivers will be pleased by the smooth, responsive ride they’ll get in the Outback.
Seats are comfortable and supportive and not overly stiff. They’re easily adjustable for drivers of varying heights with ample legroom for the six-foot crowd. Push back those seats and rear passengers won’t find their knees squished. There is somehow more room inside than you’d expect looking at it from the outside.
Rear seating is also comfortable, with ample room for car seats or adult passengers. There are 38.9 inches of headroom and 38.1 inches of legroom. The Toyota RAV4 has the same headroom but slightly less legroom at 37.2 inches. The Chevrolet Equinox offers more room all around with 39.2 inches of headroom and 39.9 inches of legroom.
The second row of the Outback split-folds 60/40 with a wide opening for the rear hatch and a low load floor for easy loading of heavy cargo. There is 35.5 cubic feet of cargo capacity with those seats folded, which puts it in the middle of the competition. The Toyota RAV4 offers 38.4 cubic feet while the Chevrolet Equinox comes up short with 31.5 cubic feet.
Infotainment and controls
The Outback features the Subaru Starlink multimedia system with a 7-inch touchscreen and CD player. It includes HD Radio, AM/FM/SiriusXM and apps like Pandora and Aha. There’s Bluetooth handsfree connectivity and available upgrades including a premium audio system with 12 speakers and Siri Eyes Free is standard on all but the base model.
The system is easy and intuitive with a responsive touchscreen and large icons that make it easy to quickly find the right menu. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are rolling out in an updated version of the system that is not yet available in the Outback.
The Subaru Outback is a great family wagon with plenty of room and great safety ratings.
It’s affordably priced to fit family budgets and offers the versatility to carry people or cargo or a combination of the two.
Though a strong performer in crash tests, advanced safety features are not available on the base model and are only standard on the highest trims.
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
Base price: $32,390
Price as tested, $35,260 including $875 destination charge
Option Package 24: $1,995
Subaru Starlink 7.0 Multimedia Navigation System
-Mult-Touch High-Resolution Display
-Subaru Map Update Program – Free Three Years
-SiriusXM Traffic and TravelLink – Free Three Years
EyeSight Driver-Assist System
-Pre-Collision Braking System
-Adaptive Cruise Control
-Lane Keep Assist
-Lane Departure Warning and Lane Sway Warning
-Pre-Collision Throttle Management System
Steering Responsive Fog Lights
High Beam Assist
Reverse Automatic Braking System
- Spacious Interior
- Easy Cargo Access
- Comfortable Ride
- Safety Features LImited on Low Trims
- Spartan Interior
- No Apple CarPlay or Android Auto