Midsize car; Built in USA
  • 4-door wagon
  • longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $10,250 – $32,400*

2010 Subaru Outback front

2010 Subaru Outback rear

2010 Subaru Outback interior

2010 Subaru Outback

  • Passenger and cargo room
  • Overall refinement
  • Ride comfort
  • Passing reserves with 4-cylinder engine
  • CVT transmission performance on hills
  • Engine noise (4-cylinder)

Subaru’s Outback is a well-rounded combination of midsize car, station wagon, and sport-utility attributes. Engine noise and refinement are concerns, particularly with the CVT automatic, but 2.5i models compensate by providing surprisingly good fuel economy. The roomy cabin is a bonus. Some similar-in-concept competitors ultimately feel compromised by trying to be too many things at once, but this is a pleasant and capable wagon. Car loyalists, crossover intenders, and even those searching for an SUV that’s at least mildly off-road-capable will find a lot to like in this wagon.


Redesigned for 2010, the Subaru Outback gained freshened styling, a revised model lineup, and a new six-cylinder engine. Like the related Legacy sedan, this midsize wagon was about 3 inches wider and longer in wheelbase than the 2009 Outback. Two engines and six models were offered, all with horizontally opposed engines and standard all-wheel drive. The 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, and 2.5i Limited had a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on 2.5i and 2.5i Premium, and a new continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaves like an automatic was optional on those two and standard on the 2.5i Limited. The top-line 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, and 3.6R Limited got a new 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that teamed with a five-speed automatic. Standard safety features included antilock braking, traction control, an antiskid system, curtain-side airbags, and front-side airbags. A wireless cell-phone link was standard on Limiteds and optional on all other Outbacks. Heated front seats were optional on 2.5 Premium and standard on 2.5i Limited, 3.6R Premium, and 3.6R Limited. Leather upholstery was standard on Limiteds, while a navigation system was optional. Rivals to the Outback included the Kia Rondo, Mazda 5, and Volvo XC70.

Yearly Updates

2011 Outback
A rearview camera was newly available on Premium versions. Otherwise, Subaru’s Outback was largely unchanged following its redesign for the 2010 model year.
2012 Outback
There were only minor trim changes to the 2012 Subaru Outback.
2013 Outback
All 2013 Outbacks wore new front-end styling with redesigned headlights, grille, and bumper. There was also a reinforced body structure, and a revised roof rack system. Four-cylinder-powered 2.5i models received a new, more-powerful engine and a revised continuously variable transmission (CVT) that behaved much like an automatic. The standard audio system added a Bluetooth hands-free cell-phone link and audio streaming, iPod control capability, and a USB port. 2.5i models included steering wheel control buttons for the Bluetooth functions. Limited models could be equipped with a harmon/kardan audio system with navigation, a 7-inch touchscreen display, and rearview camera. Newly available was Subaru’s EyeSight saftey system with pre-collision braking, lane-departure warning, sway warning, and adaptive cruise control.
2014 Outback
Changes were minor for the 2014 Outbacks. Versions with the CVT transmission received adaptive transmission control that the company claimed resulted in smoother performance and response. Also, the optional navigation system now included Aha-based smartphone connectivity.


longitudinal front-engine/all-wheel drive

Two horizontally opposed engines have been offered, each working with standard all-wheel drive. The 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, and 2.5i Limited held a 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on 2.5i and 2.5i Premium. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) was optional on those and standard on the 2.5i Limited. The 3.6R, 3.6R Premium, and 3.6R Limited models used a 256-horsepower 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that teamed with a five-speed automatic.

ohc H4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.5/150
Engine HP 170
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 170
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
CVT automatic
dohc H6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.6/221
Engine HP 256
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 247
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
5-speed automatic



Road Test

Outbacks with the four-cylinder engine and the CVT have decent power in most situations, but they lack reserve muscle for passing and merging. The CVT can become confused in hilly driving conditions. Six-cylinder models feel usefully stronger in nearly all situations.

In Consumer Guide testing, a CVT-equipped Outback averaged 27.6 mpg–a very good result even in a test that included mostly highway driving. A 3.6R averaged 17.5 mpg with more city driving than highway use. All models use regular gas.

Ride comfort is a plus. An Outback is always controlled, never harsh, and more comfortable than many family sedans and nearly any similarly sized SUV. Larger bumps are felt, but Outback’s compliant suspension and stout body structure work together so occupants aren’t jostled.

Outbacks have linear, predictable steering. Some body lean is present, but on the road these Subarus behave more like a car than an SUV. During light off-road duty on dirt trails and rutted gravel roads, Outback remains confident and sure-footed. Brakes are strong with good pedal feel.

Though an improvement over other Subaru “boxer” engines, Outback’s four-cylinder motor still lags top midsize rivals for refinement. Its cause is not helped by the CVT, which allows engine speed to race ahead of road speed during even moderate acceleration. The six-cylinder engine sounds better and is quieter overall. Most other noise sources are effectively squelched, though some testers have complained that tires are too noisy on concrete road surfaces.

Controls are clearly marked and easy to use on models without the navigation system. Outbacks equipped with navigation absorb some audio functions, complicating their use. Oddly, navigation-equipped models substituted a six-disc CD changer for a single-disc unit, even though the navigation data comes on a DVD disc that must be ejected before one can play an audio CD. Some testers have disliked the pushbutton climate controls, while others weren’t bothered by them. Outback interiors are finished with price-appropriate materials. Upholstery is tasteful cloth in the Premium and leather in the Limited. Contrasting metal-look accent finishes add a touch of class to both models, but the wood-grain trim in Limiteds isn’t particularly convincing.

Even six-footers will find plenty of front-seat headroom and legroom. Visibility is good from behind the wheel, and the seats are comfortable, even for bigger folk.

Outback’s rear seat is a highlight. Outbacks have excellent headroom and good legroom for adults, even behind a front seat position for a six-footer.

Cargo space is another plus. The standard 60/40 split rear seatbacks fold flat. Underfloor storage and an available cargo cover–with its own underf-loor storage slot–are additional conveniences. Interior small-item storage is better than average with a good-size glovebox and console bin, door pockets, cupholders, and a useful assortment of cubbies, bins and trays.


Model Tested: 2011 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium w/CVT

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.


Acceleration - 5
Fuel Economy - 6
Ride Quality - 7
Steering/Handling - 6
Quietness - 6


Controls/Materials - 6
Room/Comfort Front - 8
Room/Comfort Rear - 7
Cargo Room - 9


Value - 8

Total: 68


4-door wagon
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
107.9 188.2 71.7 65.7
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
71.3 18.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
40.8 39.3 43.0 37.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2010 Outback 4-door wagon


(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Front Passenger Injury - 5

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - 5
Rear Passenger Injury - 5


(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Oil consumption
Description: Exhaust smoke and high oil consumption may result due to improperly machined valve guides in the cylinder head which must be replaced. (2011)
Steering problems
Description: Shake or vibration in the steering wheel may require an improved steering wheel and numerous front end parts. (2010-11)
Description: The sunroof may bind or make noises due to misalignment. (2011)
Entertainment problems
Description: The “Map” “Dest” “Menu” and “Info” buttons on the infotainment system may quit working if the transmission is put in reverse then quickly taken out of reverse (manual or automatic) unless the firmware was updated. (2010-11)

Recall History

2010 Outback
Description: A crack or split could occur in CVT cooler hose, resulting in fluid leakage.
2010 Outback
Description: Wiring in steering-column electric roll connector may develop stress cracks and eventually break, causing certain electrical components to operate improperly.
2010-11 Outback with manual
Description: Lubrication hole within the six-speed manual transmission system was omitted, preventing proper lubrication, which could result in broken gears.
2010-11 Outback
Description: Vehicles may have been equipped with accessory puddle lights that can short circuit under salty and moist conditions and potentially cause a fire.
2010-12 Outback
Description: Components in the wiper motor bottom cover may overheat, melt, and potentially catch fire.
2010-13 Outback with Audiovox remote starter (RES)
Description: If the RES fob is dropped, the fob may malfunction and start the vehicle. The vehicle will run for up to 15 minutes and may continue to start and stop until the fob battery is depleted or until the vehicle runs out of gas.
2011-12 Outback
Description: Moonroof glass may come loose or detach during driving.
2012 Outback
Description: Vehicles may have a malfunctioning brake master cylinder that requires the driver to press harder than expected on the brake pedal.
2012 Outback
Description: Side-curtain airbags may have an incorrect propellant mixture, resulting in insufficient compressed gas output. The airbags may not deploy.
2013 Outback
Description: Certain 2013 model Outback vehicles made between February 15, 2012 and June 15, 2012 may have inner and outer shafts in the steering column assembly that can come disengaged from each other. If the shafts become disengaged, it is not possible to steer the vehicle.
2014 Outback
Description: Certain 2014 model Outback vehicles equipped with the 3.6-liter engine and 5-speed automatic transmission and made between June 12, 2013 and June 28, 2013 may have parking rods inside the transmission that can become loose. If the parking rod detaches it may not be possible to either engage or disengage the parking mechanism.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.


Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.

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