James Flammang
Contributing Editor - July 26, 2016

Expert Rating

4.45 (Excellent)
23 City / 30 Highway

Unlike other websites and magazines, our ratings are not based solely on a singular road test, but rather a more encompassing batch of criteria: quality, safety, comfort, performance, fuel economy, reliability history and value. When comparing vehicles using our Rating System, it's important to note that the rating earned by each vehicle correlates only to the models within its class. For example, a compact car cannot be compared to a SUV—They are different vehicles altogether.

You can interpret our ratings in the following way:

5-Star: Outstanding vehicle. Only the most exceptional vehicles achieve this rating.

4-Star: Very Good vehicle. Very good and close to being the best vehicle in its class.

3-Star: Good vehicle. Decent, but not quite the best. Often affordable, but lacking key features found in vehicles of the same class.

2-Star: Below average vehicle. Not recommended, and lacking attributes a car buyer would come to expect for the price.

1-Star: Poor vehicle. Simply does not deserve to be on the road.

2017 Subaru Outback OVERVIEW

Subaru’s sport-utility wagon has been attracting considerable attention in recent years, offering buyers something different than the mass of crossover models on the market. Though the ride is similar to that of a solidly-built station wagon, the Outback’s raised ground clearance and moderate off-road capabilities invite comparison to a small SUV. Totally redesigned for 2015, the Outback wagon has standard all-wheel drive, just like most Subaru models.

What's New for 2017

The addition of “flagship” Touring models for 2017 brings a new Java Brown perforated leather interior with ivory contrast stitching. The Touring trim also includes a woodgrain interior finish with piano-black accents. New reverse automatic braking is standard on Limited and Touring models. The system can halt the vehicle if it detects an object in its path while backing up.

Choosing Your Subaru Outback

Lower trim levels have only one powertrain choice: a 2.5-liter four-cylinder “boxer” (flat, or horizontally-opposed) engine that makes 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque. Subaru’s 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine, generating 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet, comes only in the top-end 3.6R Limited and Touring trim levels. Both engines mate with an automated continuously variable transmission (CVT) that has a six-speed manual mode and paddle shifters, to make virtual gearchanges when desired. The available EyeSight suite of active-safety features includes adaptive cruise control, automatic pre-collision braking, Lane Departure and Sway Warning, and lane-keeping assist.

Fuel economy is estimated at 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway (28 mpg combined) with the four-cylinder engine, but only 20/27 mpg (city/highway) and 22 mpg combined with the six-cylinder.

Six trim levels are offered, including two with the six-cylinder engine:


Fitted with a relatively modest number of standard amenities, the basic Outback starts at $26,520 (including destination charge). Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist are standard. So are a four-speaker audio system with CD player and USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free phone operation, rearview camera, air conditioning, projector-beam halogen headlights, and 17-inch steel wheels. Starlink multimedia has a 6.2-inch single-touch gesture display.

2.5i Premium

Starting at $28,570, the Premium edition features dual-zone climate control, an All-Weather package, 10-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and gearshift knob, seven-inch touchscreen display with multi-touch gesture controls, electro-luminescent instrument panel, six-speaker audio system with SiriusXM capability, and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Premium is the lowest trim level that can be fitted with various option packages.

2.5i Limited

Priced at $33,265, the Limited edition comes with perforated leather-trimmed seat upholstery, heated rear seatbacks and cushions, a four-way power front passenger seat, rear air conditioner outlets, foglights, woodgrain interior trim, and 18-inch alloy wheels. The 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system has a 576-watt amplifier, and the power rear liftgate has a height memory. Safety features include a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking.

2.5i Touring

For $36,870, you now get the most luxurious Outback with the thrifty four-cylinder engine. Styling details include a dark gray grille insert, machined-finish 18-inch wheels with dark gray accents, silver-finished low-profile roof rails, and chromed lower body cladding. A heated steering wheel is standard. Touring models include Subaru’s EyeSight Driver Assist technology.

3.6R Limited

Base-priced at $35,870, the 3.6R Limited gets the six-cylinder engine, as well as high-intensity-discharge low-beam headlights and dual stainless-steel exhaust tips.

3.6R Touring

Topping the price scale at $39,070, you get the six-cylinder engine, along with styling touches like the 2.5i Touring model.

Option packages for selected trim levels can add such features as a moonroof, power rear liftgate, blind-spot monitoring, navigation, and the EyeSight driver-assistance/safety system.

CarsDirect Tip

Unless saving money is paramount, we advise skipping 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 $2,050 more, and provides an appealing selection of features, more appropriate to a vehicle of this sort. If that’s not sufficient, you can choose from several available packages to add the items you want or need the most.

Get your price on a Subaru Outback >>

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