IT’S A BEST BUY BECAUSE:
The Outback has “best of both worlds” appeal; it’s got better off-road capability than a traditional car and more carlike handling than the typical taller crossover. What’s more, it’s solidly built and offers an excellent range of comfort and safety features.
The turbocharged engine exhibits a bit of “turbo lag”—a delay in power delivery before the turbo spools up.
The Outback Onyx Edition model comes with special StarTex water-repellent upholstery.
WHAT IS IT?
The Outback is Subaru’s popular SUV-flavored midsize station wagon; it’s based on the same basic platform as the Subaru Legacy midsize sedan, but it adds a raised ride height, beefy roof rails, and rugged-looking lower-body cladding. A 182-hp 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is the base engine, and a 260-hp turbocharged 2.4-liter four is the step-up choice; both are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and standard all-wheel drive. Trim levels run through base, Premium, Limited, and Touring models with the 2.5-liter engine, and Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT with the turbo 2.4. Standard safety features on all include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control with a lane-centering function, and a head-up display. Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, and Subaru’s DriverFocus driver monitoring system are available. Other available features include heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, navigation system, hands-free power liftgate, 180-degree front-view camera, and a power sunroof.
After its redesign for 2020, the Subaru Outback gets more standard features for 2021—namely adaptive LED headlights, a front- and rear-passenger seatbelt reminder, and a rear seat reminder (which reminds the driver to check the rear-seat area for children or pets before exiting the vehicle).
The EPA rates the Outback at 26 mpg city/33 highway with the 2.5-liter engine, and 23/30 with the turbo 2.4. In Consumer Guide® testing, an Onyx Edition XT averaged 23.9 mpg in 65-percent city driving, and a Touring XT averaged 25.0 mpg in 80-percent highway driving.
VALUE IN CLASS
For many shoppers, the Outback offers an ideal blend of passenger-and-cargo versatility, on-road refinement, all-terrain capability, and luxury, and wraps it all up in a rugged, adventurous-looking package that boasts a generous list of safety and convenience features.