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 UTAH_OUTBACK_Owner on Thursday, August 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 17,550overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "CVT mileage and uphill on snow performance"
Cons: "Cold air leaks into Driver foot well on -10 days"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"After putting 11K on a lightly used 2013 OB including one severe winter storm and many trips to the ski resort on a 2.5i Premium with CVT, I am glad I can downshift on the steering wheel mounted paddles...you don't need to be in manual to downshift or up shift either so you can use a hybrid approach to gear changes...the system takes 3-4 seconds to revert back to automatic after you have shifted with the paddles...most users don't know this...but you can down shift or up shift at any time in D...if you don't get why down shifting in an AWD is such a big deal you should try it with snow tires on icy roads...you can decelerate into and then immediately accelerate out of corners better on slippery surfaces than with the same tires on a manual transmission; because it finds the gear and engages the ground faster. Manual gear selection on a CVT isn't Fake, Its selecting pre calculated gear ratios that don't change when you return to them, 2nd is always second gear as far as the ratio and power application is concerned. Going uphill with a CVT in Auto on steep slippery terrain is a HUUUGE advantage over owning a MT, because you have hundreds of ratio's between 2nd and 3rd gears, when you push the peddle down on steeper grades the CVT maintains the power band automatically while ensuring the appropriate ratio...I pass bigger trucks and SUV's loaded with ski gear and people that have V8's who have to bounce back and forth between 2nd and 3rd gear on snowy steep roads all the time in the winter, and I do it in a lower HP 4 cylinder CVT wagon loaded with people and gear. I have also driven on Snowcat groomed roads between Park City and Brighton Estates on the guardsman's pass road (for snowmobile and 4WD access) on Stock Continental tires at normal inflation, and it never got stuck once, the whole time it displayed smooth power transfer to the snow with stopping and braking for switchbacks on the 2.5 mile snow pack covered road. MT users like to bash the CVT, but with a commuter vehicle on snow its very similar to the slip clutch on a snowmobile if you ever look at one...the power transfer also surges oddly similar but can be quite enjoyable in the power band when you know what to look for and when to punch the gas...E.G. 2nd-3rd gear roll on acceleration, it becomes punchy and feels slingshotty out of corners!!!"
2 people out of 4 found this review helpful
By Ricky on Tuesday, August 12, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 75,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"If you live in the snow belt, the Outback is the best car you will ever have. Solid, reliable, drives like a dream. Interior and Comfort are not luxury, but not bad. I've gotten mileage greater than advertised on the sticker. My only dislike is summer driving, when I'd like to have something a little smaller / sportier."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By speedballjet on Saturday, August 09, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "versatile, fun to drive, extremly comfortable"
Cons: "always wishing mileage were better; no blind spot"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Bought 2014 Outback Limited Dec. 2013 and have 6200 mi. The leather seats are awesome....my first car with leather. Extremely supportive and comfy. Excellent driving position. I removed rear seat head restraints to improve visibility since Im the only one usually in the car. Mileage is pretty much as stated...without air conditioning on I average about 24 in town and 30 highway. The red color is gorgeous. Its a classy looking vehicle IMHO. The only issue Ive had is when the air conditioning is running the gauge that tells you your MPG goes down, down, down to about 12mpg but then when I fill up the actual mileage is down only about 2 mpg.....will have this gauge checked in Sept when I go in for regular service."
By Frank Lazirini on Saturday, August 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent handling"
Cons: "Gas mileage could be better"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Had this car for 2 years, test drove 3 others and the Outback was the best car for what I needed, I carry a lot of gear and do mountain biking as well as skiing. The car handles really well, feels very solid and safe, my wife drives during the week and she loves it. The only complaint is that the gas mileage is not so good, I get about 25 combined. I wish Subaru would make a Hybrid version of the Outback."
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By Jack on Saturday, August 02, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 80,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Excellent value; ultimate traction & safety"
Cons: "Design is best for small to medium driver sizes"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Terrific car for many reasons. Comfortable, convenient features and the most dependable car we've ever owned. Most importantly - it protected us when we were struck broadside by an enormous truck. During the collision, its responsiveness allowed me to avoid other cars and a rock wall while reducing speed. We finally hit a tree, but the crumple-zone absorbed most of the impact. We survived unharmed."
3 people out of 3 found this review helpful
By Baldy11 on Monday, July 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,700overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great - safe, dependable, efficient, comfortable"
Cons: "Smallish cup holders-fixed in 2015 model"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"My wife had been wanting an Outback for a long time, I was a little skeptical at first. Research found this to be a very well built, safe, dependable and efficient car. Subaru's parent company is a manufacturer of heavy duty construction/manufacturing equipment and the Subaru line definitely falls inline with their dedication to quality. We have had our 2013 Outback 2.5i Limited for over a year and absolutely love it. It is even better than we had expected. Great efficiency and very solid overall. I like to perform my own maintenance and have found it very easy to change the oil, filters, etc. Only downside we have found is that the cup-holders don't fit all large drinks (PowerAde, etc.). In looking at the 2015 models it looks like they have given the Outback larger cup holders. After seeing our experience, my parents purchased a 2014 Outback and one of my wife's clients have purchased one as well. You will not be disappointed with this vehicle."
20 people out of 26 found this review helpful