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 Quartermaster on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Overall value, adaptability, design, utility,"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This is the vehicle we take on long trips and use for heavy loads and that my wife uses to transport clients (easy getting in/out). It's been very "driveable" as well as reliable -- as well as elegant in design, prompting routine inquiries at the gas pump. Gas mileage is not as good as my Prius (duh!), but it gets 25-28 mpg on longer trips. Very responsive to driving cues. Relatively quiet and nicely appointed. Very satisfied. Unfortunately, this car was rear-ended last week and may be totaled. We will hate giving it up but will definitely replace it with a newer model of Subaru Outback."
By obx'er on Monday, March 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,800overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "good all around car, pretty fun to drive"
Cons: "rides a little firm. engine a little loud"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"bought a new 2013 with 4-cyl and the 6-speed stick. i like the car a lot. it rides harder ( more harsh) than my friend's 2012 Outback. it could use a little more power, but it does pretty good. gas milage has been 25 mpg on average. it's fun to drive. feels light and nimble. good road car. just drove from ohio to florida with a full load of people and luggage with no complaints from anyone. it's been great this year with all the snow we've had."
By chris on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD and fun to drive anywhere"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"this is a huge step up from my ford ranger I had before. both my Whitewater kayaks fit in easily. I love this thing"
By PC Limited Outback on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,200overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beats the competition, limited seats are great"
Cons: "I would go with the 6 cyl and avoid the CVT tranny"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"What a great car. the 6 cyl, is more powerful up the steep hills than other models with more HP. 2200 rpm up Parleys canyon. While others scream and cry at 3000+. I have driven many other brands....So quiet and nice to drive. Seats comfy, lots of back seat legroom. Summer MPG 29/30, winter mpg 26/27. Mostly highway."
7 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By joe on Sunday, February 16, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 29,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "AWD is a +, good price for what you get"
Cons: "gas mileage in winter, 2.5 is a little slow"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"I bought my 2012 Subaru Outback Premium almost fully loaded with 9k miles on it, currently at 29K. I got almost all the options better sound system, heated side mirrors, auto dim rear view, heated seats, all weather package, back up cam, blue tooth, CVT, 2.5 engine. Fun to drive, good handling and spacious. Took on a couple road trips with 3 friends and had enough room for cargo and no one was cramped. AWD and the heated seats and mirrors are a must especially driving in the snow, I in Chicago. The 2.5 boxer engine is OK. It's a little laggy could use a little more power. CVT transmission seams to downshift on hills and struggles some times when your trying to cruise. Biggest complaint is the gas milage during the summer I averaged 24-25 mpg, about 22 city and 27 HW. However, during the winter months I average 21-22 I get about 18 city and 24 HW."
1 person out of 1 found this review helpful
By troutman on Friday, February 14, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good value - nice design"
Cons: "terrible winter city mpg"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5
"Overall I liked this car a lot when I bought it. Good mid priced, sporty vehicle with decent cargo space and good clearance for mild off-roading. The MPG I got at first was great - very happy, then winter rolled around and it dropped to 14-15 mpg which is WAY less than advertised. This is city driving only, mostly 10-15min commutes, no idling to speak of during a very cold winter(MN). The vehicle only has 5M miles on it so may still be breaking in a bit, but come on...14.5 mpg. I could be driving a suburban and doing better. One long hwy trip in milder weather I took the mpg picked back up and I expect the same this spring, but they should tell you this upfront. I really dislike the false advertising of the sticker MPG."