Subaru’s sport-utility wagon has been attracting considerable attention in recent years, offering buyers something different than the usual crossover models. Though the ride is similar to a solidly-built station wagon, Outback’s raised ground clearance and off-road capabilities invite comparison to a small SUV. Totally redesigned for 2015, the Outback has standard all-wheel drive, like most Subaru models.
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2016 Subaru Outback Overview
What's New for 2016
New Subaru Starlink Safety and Security features come in two packages: Safety Plus, and Safety Plus & Security Plus. EyeSight driver-assist technology adds Lane Keep Assist. New auto on/off mode operates wipers along with the headlights. Subaru says electric power steering has been returned for a more linear, natural feel.
Choosing Your Subaru Outback
Lower trim levels have only one engine choice: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder “Boxer” that makes 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. Subaru’s 3.6-liter six-cylinder, generating 256 horsepower, comes only with the top-end 3.6R Limited. Both engines mate with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has a six-speed manual mode and paddle shifters, to make virtual gearchanges when desired. The available EyeSight system includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and the new Lane Keep Assist.
Fuel economy is estimated at 25 mpg city/33 mpg highway with the four-cylinder engine, but only 20/27 mpg (city/highway) with the six-cylinder.
Four trim levels are offered, but optional packages can add such features as a moonroof, power rear liftgate, blind-spot monitoring, navigation, EyeSight system, and keyless start to upper trims.
Unless saving money is paramount, it’s advisable to avoid the base 2.5i, which costs a little too much considering its modest standard-equipment list. Moving up to a 2.5i Premium costs only $2,400 more, and provides an appealing selection of features, appropriate to a vehicle of this kind. If that’s not sufficient, several available packages can be specified to add the items you need the most.
2016 Subaru Outback Review
The Outback continues into the 2016 model year better than ever, with a quieter cabin, more comfortable seating, and more premium features than most shoppers probably expect.
Pricing and Equipment
The Subaru Outback starts out at a reasonable $24,995 for the 2.5i trim level. This base model comes pretty well equipped with standard features including:
- Projector low-beam headlights
- Roof rails
- Silver metallic trim
- Steering wheel-mounted controls
- A Starlink 6.2-inch multimedia system with four speakers
Even more equipment is available on the Outback’s higher trim levels: the 2.5i Premium ($27,395) and 2.5i Limited ($30,395), and the performance-oriented 3.6R Limited ($33,395).
- The Outback can tow up to 3,000 pounds, even with the four-cylinder engine.
- Standard all-wheel drive and plenty of ground clearance for off-the-beaten-path driving.
- We find the Outback a little sluggish off the line, even with the six-cylinder engine, which is easily trimped by turbocharged four-cylinder engines in the industry today.
- We'd love to see the true performance model we know Subaru can build.
The Outback’s interior is surprisingly well laid out for such a rugged vehicle. What’s more, its seating room is ample, and the front seats are plenty comfortable.
- A peaceful cabin thanks to last year's revisions.
- Plenty of room to seat three across the rear bench.
- The low cargo floor makes loading and unloading easier.
The Outback’s cabin is great, but there are some minor issues, like its limited rear-seat legroom, and a bouncy ride over not-so-rugged terrain.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
For such a rugged vehicle, the Outback is surprisingly quiet. This is accomplished with thicker floor panels, lower firewall, wheel aprons, and inner fenders; also helping out is the acoustic windshield and liquid-filled engine mounts.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine leaves us wanting more. It feels dated, and Subaru’s existing turbocharged four-cylinders deliver more torque with a flatter curve. We think it’s time to drop the six-pot for a boosted four-cylinder.
The Bottom Line
The Outback is the ultimate combination of SUV and wagon, as its 8.7 inches of ground clearance is plenty, its cargo area is large and easily accessible, and it handles more like a sedan than a crossover. What’s more, its low base price makes it attainable for most buyers.
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