By KBB.com Editors
Subaru builds the Outback for active individuals who shudder at the thought of driving a fuel-thirsty SUV. Based on the popular Legacy sedan and wagon, the Outback takes Subaru's four-wheel-drive philosophy one step further by increasing ground clearance, adding protective side cladding and offering a host of accessories designed to carry various types of equipment and cargo. Offered in four wagon and two sedan trims, and the smaller, Impreza-based Sport version, the rugged Outback models range from simple (2.5i), to sporty (2.5 XT Limited), to simply luxurious (3.0 R L.L. Bean Edition). Engine choices vary by model and include a powerful turbocharged four-cylinder and a refined six-cylinder. Of course, Subaru's legendary Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive is standard, as is the ability to go just about anywhere four wheels can travel.
If you need the sure-footed traction of all-wheel drive but shudder at the thought of driving a big, fuel-inefficient SUV, the Outback is the answer. All-wheel-drive confidence and new safety features add up to a prudent and pleasurable road experience, heightened by a comfortable highway ride.
If you need an off-road vehicle that can also tow heavy loads and seat seven, the Outback is no match for a truck-based, V8-powered SUV.
Model designations have been rearranged to include the smaller Sport, a 2.5i Basic Wagon, 2.5i Wagon, 2.5i Limited Sedan, 2.5 XT Limited Wagon and 3.0 R L.L. Bean Sedan and Wagon. The 2.5 XT Limited now features the SI-DRIVE performance management system.
Driving Impressions Ride comfort leads the Outback's list of benefits. On rougher surfaces, though, the suspension tries its best to maintain a level attitude but some occupant-tossing may occur. Acceleration with the...turbocharged engine is almost too swift. Nudge the pedal at a standstill and the XT Limited is likely to lunge heartily forward, though response to pass or merge isn't quite so assertive. Quiet-running, an Outback maneuvers well, but requires more steering effort than some drivers might find reasonable. Overall, the XT Limited isn't quite as much fun as you might expect of a smaller, turbocharged car, but that's easily outweighed by its sensible utility.
This could be Subaru's number-one selling point, since no other manufacturer makes such a system standard on all models.
Semi-Manual Shift Mode
Tapping a steering-wheel button in the 2.5 XT Limited lets you downshift briefly without going into full manual mode. This can be handy when road or traffic conditions change suddenly, and the transmission resumes normal operation as soon as the temporary situation ends.
Like most aspects of the Outback, its dashboard and control layout convey a down-to-business personality. Subaru notes that the Outback's seating position provides a more "commanding" view than ordinary wagons. Two-toned interiors are fitted with cloth upholstery on 2.5i and 2.5 XT Limited trims, while the L.L. Bean receives leather trim. Seats are inviting and supportive, visibility is excellent all-around and the Outback runs quietly. The Sporty 2.5 XT Limited uses an electroluminescent LED instrument display.Exterior
Subaru calls the Outback the "world's first sport utility wagon," calling attention to its pronounced wedge-shaped profile. Its SUV-like attributes are subtle but noticeable. Aerodynamic ground-effects components blend with more pronounced wheel arches to give it a bolder stance. A rear gate spoiler is installed and, on the 2.5 XT Limited turbo model, a functional hood scoop feeds air to the engine's intercooler.
The 2.5i Basic Wagon includes front side-impact airbags, side-curtain airbags, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), cloth upholstery, power windows and locks, cruise control, remote keyless entry, 100-watt stereo with six speakers and CD/MP3 player, air conditioning and an alarm system. The 2.5i Limited has an automatic transmission, leather seating, power glass moonroof, six-disc CD changer and dual-zone automatic air conditioning. The 3.0 R L.L. Bean Edition adds a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel and a panoramic tilt/sliding dual panel moonroof (wagon).
Practical-duty accessories include a bike carrier and ski attachment set. Buyers have three engine choices and three types of all-wheel drive from which to choose, but they are available according to model rather than as separately ordered options. Individual options include upgraded audio and DVD navigation.
The Outback offers three engine options: A 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter six-cylinder. The normally-aspirated 2.5-liter boxer engine produces enough power to suit most non-enthusiast drivers. It also offers the best fuel economy. The turbocharged 2.5-liter engine provides nearly the same horsepower as the 3.0-liter six-cylinder, but offers more torque at a lower rpm, perfect for performance driving. The 3.0-liter six-cylinder found on the luxury models is strong and smooth and is matched with Variable Torque Distribution, which is Subaru's most sophisticated all-wheel-drive system.
175 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
169 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/28 (manual), 22/28 (automatic)
2.5-liter Boxer-4 Turbocharged
243 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
241 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/27 (manual), 20/26 (automatic)
245 horsepower @ 6600 rpm
215 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26
By Pete on Sunday, October 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 115,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I just bought my first 2006 Outback yesterday at my local dealer. This car is so clean it looks like new! I am very impressed with the quality of this car. I looked at Toyota and even a Land Rover and I also own a Honda CRV, but this car is fare above in quality than the others. I hope it lasts me well over 200,000 miles!"
By KMo on Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 151,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good quality, reliable"
Cons: "Check engine light tied to cruise control"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Got this vehicle with 121000 miles on it. Now it has 151000. Runs great! Have had a few normal issues and things to replace. Only real compliant is that the check engine light is tied to the cruise control and when the check engine light comes on, the cruise control doesn't work. Solution, disconnect and reconnect battery."
6 people out of 8 found this review helpful
By Michael on Sunday, October 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 116,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "RELIABLE, full maintenance, lovely."
Cons: "Some cosmetic dents on rear and front bumper.."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Subaru 2008 Outback, two toned brown and champagne (116,000 miles, brand new tires, highway miles, clean interior, full maintenance history at Garcia Subaru, and in great condition (some cosmetic bumper dents). Roof rack and will throw in a carrier on top."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Drew on Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 140,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD, Folding rear seat, reliable, well optioned"
Cons: "Rattles and road noise, 23-25mpg not great."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"This is my second subaru, and while the 3.0 engine does seem to have less major problems then my old 2.5, the build quality is lacking when compared to euro offerings. They call the sedan and outback, and my 2007 was the last year for the sedan version. I have the loaded LL Bean addition. The road noise and rattles from the interior are the biggest drawbacks for me, and the extra engine size doesn't quite amount to much power. although it pulls adequately, this is not a quick subaru, it would rather waft along. I think subaru should have included a factory roof rack in lieu of the moonroof."
2 people out of 6 found this review helpful
By Ali 1 on Monday, September 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 79,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safety, Reliability, Versatility, Holds Value"
Cons: "Expensive to purchase, mpg 20"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I bought this 08 2.5i Outback in 2011, It is my 5th Subaru. I like the wagon very much and have used it to bring home a recliner! Before I had a couple Legacy GT's which were my faves! The car drives nicely and has a good amt of pep, handles the curvy roads well. I get about 4-8 inches of snow and the only thing that stops this wheeler is the depth over about 5". because it high centers. We also currently have a 99 Limited Outback with 221k mi. it runs great and is a 5sp. SO FUN TO DRIVE! Both smog no prob. If you are even considering a suby, DO IT! They are the best cars if you have snow or go skiing."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Travels with Dogs on Sunday, September 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 190,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Reliable, handles great, goes on snow, comfy ride"
Cons: "Not a lot of interior storage up front"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This 2005 Subaru Outback with moonroof and leather seats has made me a Subaru convert forever. It is comfortable and works every time. After about 150,000 miles I've started replacing some things (struts, brakes, tires, soon and A/C fan), but it continues to run great and perform like it did the first time out. I tested and drove nearly every wagon/mid-size SUV on the market before buying my Subaru. The final thumbs up was that the rear 60/40 seats lie flat, giving my two big Golden Retrievers plenty of room to lie down (even with other gear in the car) and travel everywhere with me. The all-season mats are worth every penny as is the Compass garage opener. With all-wheel drive it drives on snow like the snow is hardly there. I can't imagine owning any other car. Wish list: more upfront storage space for phones, wallets, etc. Also better gas mileage. I get 28 mpg with a combo of highway/city driving."
2 people out of 3 found this review helpful