By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.2
The 2010 Subaru Outback is the perfect anti-SUV and one of the best-selling wagons in America. It's as agile as most mid-size sedans, but offers much of the off-road and cargo capabilities of a larger vehicle. It also offers a raised seating position that some consider a just-right balance between that of a car and an SUV. New from the ground up in 2010, the fifth generation Outback remains true to the original concept yet achieves major improvements in the areas of interior room, fuel economy and flexibility. As with all Subarus, the Outback comes standard with Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, a proven system that allows this rugged wagon to conquer the toughest terrain and deepest snow.
If you're looking for an economical wagon with an emphasis on safety, features, fuel-economy and true off-road ability, the Outback is pretty much your best bet.
For 2011, Subaru adds folding side mirrors to all Outback models and makes XM Satellite Radio part of the harman/kardon audio system. New features include a rear vision camera with 3.3-inch rearview mirror display (part of the Power Moonroof package) and mobile Wi-Fi device that turns the Outback into a rolling hotspot capable of accessing the internet up to 150-feet from the car.
Driving Impressions If maximum fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2.5-liter four with the CVT is your best bet. With 170 horsepower on tap the engine has to work a...bit to move the Outback. Once up to speed the CVT finds and holds the engine's maximum torque and horsepower, providing the best acceleration and fuel economy mix. The CVT does take some getting used to as there are no discernable gear shifts common to a traditional automatic. The standard steering wheel mounted shift paddles, however, allow the driver to select and hold gears as with a manual transmission, thus making passing and merging maneuvers a bit quicker. With a projected 29 miles per gallon highway and a new 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback can cruise over 500 miles before refueling. As for the Outback's driving characteristics, it demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, especially surprising considering the car's high center of gravity. The steering is precise and predictable and interior sound levels are fairly low, although we did detect some wind noise around the roof racks.
Subaru's take on this fuel saving transmission uses a metal band as opposed to a rubber belt, which it claims will improve durability and longevity. The Subaru CVT includes a manual shift mode that mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without the need for clutch pedal. Best of all, the CVT is expected to return and estimated 22 city and 29 highway, which is better than the six-speed manual.
Electronic Parking Brake with Hill Holder
Not only does this feature free up more space on the center console, it incorporates and electronic hill holder that, on inclines of more the five percent, holds the vehicle in place until the driver steps on the accelerator.
One of the biggest complaints heard by generations of Outback owners involved the car's tiny back seat. The 2011 model addresses this concern by adding an additional four inches of legroom and nearly three inches of headroom. During our test drive, we comfortable fit three, six-foot tall adults in the back seat and still had space between their knees and the front seat backs. Wide front seats and a reclining rear seat further improve occupant comfort, while upscale models offer power driver's side lumbar support and leather seating surfaces. The addition of a dash-mounted electronic parking brake allows Subaru engineers to remove the center console handbrake handle, creating more space for water bottles and latte cups. Models equipped with automatic transmission also feature steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.Exterior
The 2011 Outback is a radical departure from the previous three generations, models that where off-road capable, but very car like in appearance. The Outback is now more SUV-like appearance, with thick plastic cladding on the doors, rocker panels and front bumper, as well as larger headlamps and pronounced fender arches. The 2011 Outback is nearly three inches taller and two-inches wider than the previous generation (2005-2009), yet the car's overall length actually shrinks by one inch. Frameless windows, another shortcoming of former Outbacks, are replaced by fully-framed glass, a design that helps improve body rigidity as well as reduce wind noise. Subaru stretched the rear door allowing easier entry and exit, while up top a clever roof rack features folding cross rails that can be tucked away to reduce wind noise and drag. And, with 8.7-inches of ground clearance, the Outback can tackle just about any off-road condition.
The base Outback 2.5i features a six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction control, six airbags including front side-impact and front and rear side curtain airbags, and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Comfort and convenience features include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single CD player, steering wheel controls for the audio and cruise control, rear wiper washer, remote keyless entry, electronic parking brake with hill holder feature and the swing away cross rail roof rack. The Premium model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat with power lumbar support, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear privacy glass. To this the Limited trim adds leather seating, and four-way power passenger seat, the All Weather Package (heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers), the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic temperature control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, a 440-watt harman/kardon stereo with six-disc CD/WMA/MP3 changer and XM Satellite Radio. Six cylinder models features the same equipment, but replace the CVT with a traditional five-speed automatic.
Most options are offered according to trim. Base models offer a few dealer installed items including Bluetooth phone connectivity, exterior puddle lights, cargo organizing systems and fog lights. The Premium models offer the Power Moonroof Package with rear vision camera and auto-dimming mirror, the All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors and wiper de-icers) and the 440-watt harman/kardon(r) audio system, while the Limited trims offer the Power Moonroof package and a voice-activated navigation system featuring music streaming (streams music to the car's stereo from a compatible Bluetooth enabled device), an eight-inch view screen and a rear backup camera. Other stand alone options include XM Satellite radio, an iPod integration Media Hub Kit that adds a USB connector, Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity (requires subscription), remote start (automatic transmission only), a trailer hitch and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with built in compass.
Subaru offers two horizontally-opposed boxer engines in the Outback. The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower, which may not best in class but does generate enough muscle to provide satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the six-speed manual is a better choice from a performance standpoint. If fuel economy is not a top priority, the best choice for the Legacy is the six-cylinder, which delivers much better acceleration and passing power than the four while delivering slightly worse fuel economy (18/25 vs. 22/29).
170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)
256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25
By coffeelude on Saturday, March 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "all wheel drive, roomy"
Cons: "rust, drives average"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2
"Got a brand new 2014 Subaru 15 months ago, mostly satisfied initially with the ride. Have about 12000 miles on it so far. Some minor issues include uneven acceleration in the morning and weird jerking when changing from reverse to drive. A few months after I bought the car I noticed that the bottom exterior of the car was rusting. A few searches online and seems like we were not alone. Neither the dealer or Subaru customer service were interested in acknowledging the problem. They claim that it is normal for a 5 month old car to start rusting. I live in the Washington dc metro area where the winters are not extreme."
3 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Fanojag on Tuesday, March 17, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Value and power for money"
Cons: "Auto gear changes could be smoother."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Traded in a Miata. Needed a vehicle with easier access egress and got that. Test drove similar sized SUVs, but none had more than 200HP. I like having extra under my right foot. Outback is roomy, drives quiet and smooth, even on long trips - longest to date Richmond - Denver in 2 days. Fuel economy not fantastic, 22-25mpg. Haven't had chance to test the 4WD aspects of it. Interior well appointed, sound system great. In my 17,000 miles, no reliability issues. I highly recommend this vehicle over its competitors."
By Sparz on Sunday, March 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6
"No temperature guage. These vehicles have a tendency to overheat Oil warning light not reliable. Roof rack useless"
5 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By karlrad on Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,852overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safe, comfortable, reliable, rides great."
Cons: "Not the best shifter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We bought this Outback Premium 2014 on August 2013, a 6 speed 2.5 liter and after 16000 miles it runs better than the day we took it; has averaged 21.54 mpg so far, I have a heavy foot, always revving it to 5000+ rpm. The Outback is great on the highway, on rough roads and on snow. NO complaints. It has had all of its oil changes and revisions, all wheel alignments and filter changes. It has never visited the dealer with a problem. It is extremely comfortable, lots of room (we brought home from Sears our elliptical) and the rear seats recline. I have never been without enough power when passing on a mountain climb on the highway. We are so happy with it, we are going to buy the new 3.6R with 6 cylinders for my wife, all the whistles. She prefers a Levorg, but we cannot buy it here and importing it from Japan is too expensive and right hand drive... If you want a comfortable, safe and reliable car, get an Outback. If you want a sports car, get a BRZ. Then, this car is assembled in the USA. A bonus."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By pj on Monday, February 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had charcoal katskin leather interior added by dealer on new purchase last year. Thinking about trading in on 2015 model. Red Venetian Pearl exterior. Just added trailer hitch receiver."
By defLinux on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safe, stable, fun and comfortable"
Cons: "Bluetooth integration needs work"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've thought hard about it, and except for the area of Bluetooth integration, I can't think of anything I don't like about my car. It feels secure and stable, it's comfortable (but not cushy), and it carries an amazing amount of stuff with the rear seat down. I have been very impressed with the design of this vehicle, both exterior and interior. Materials are well chosen and things just fit together well. The only two areas that didn't get a 10 rating (I gave them 9), are driving dynamics and convenience. As far as driving goes, this car is fantastic right up to its limits - and then it gets a little wild. But if you are driving reasonably you will never see this, and the all wheel drive is great. The only other thing is the sound system. The Bluetooth setup takes a while. Only one phone can be a music source via Bluetooth - and it's a pain to change it all the time. You do have the option to plug in via USB though, so it's not a fatal flaw. The voice recognition, at least on my car, is a bit spotty. It often takes me two or three tries to successfully navigate the menus via voice, and dialing by voice (name or number) works only half the time. It is easier to put the number into the phone by hand and dial, then the speakerphone will take over. Overall, this is probably been the best car purchase I have made in 44 years of driving."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful