Advertisement

Why ads?
Popular at KBB.com
  • 10 Best SUVs Under $25,000
  • 10 Best AWD Cars & SUVs Under $25,000
  • The 40 MPG Cars of 2014
  • 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000
Go

2012 Best
Resale Value
Award Winner
Learn more

2012 Subaru Outback

Overview
Share this page
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Subaru Outback Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.0

The 2012 Subaru Outback wagon is the perfect anti-SUV and one of the best-selling wagons in America. It's as agile and efficient as most mid-size sedans, but offers much of the off-road and cargo capability 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 its original concept yet enjoys major improvements in refinement, cabin room, fuel economy and flexibility. As with every Subaru, the Outback comes standard with Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive, a proven system that allows this rugged wagon to conquer tough terrain and deep snow as confidently as any SUV, while taking to the open road with sport-sedan manners.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you value the capability of an SUV to handle cargo and rough roads, but appreciate high ratings for safety, fuel-efficiency and driving enjoyment, the Outback wagon is likely the best mix of these virtues on the market. Subaru's flat "boxer" engine and all-wheel drive lower the car's center of gravity, for more stable handling.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need a third-row seat or tow heavy loads, a traditional SUV might be a better fit. If you prefer more carlike styling, consider a Volvo XC70 or Toyota Venza. Not everyone likes the Lineartronic continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) that is offered with the 4-cylinder, but it is among the best of its kind.

What's New for 2012

The 2012 Subaru Outback offers a wide range of equipment among its six trim levels. The popular mid-level Premium wagon models add an improved 6-speaker audio system with Bluetooth phone and wireless audio streaming plus an iPod connection. The clever standard roof rack with foldaway crossbars is mildly revised.

Driving the Outback

Driving Impressions If fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2012 Subaru Outback's 2.5-liter four with the CVT is your best bet. The 170-horsepower engine has to work a bit, but...

once up to speed the CVT finds and holds the engine's peak torque, providing a good balance of response and efficiency. The CVT does take some getting used to, as there are no discernable gearshifts like a traditional automatic. The standard steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles, however, allow the driver to simulate manual gearshifts, for quicker passing and merging. With an estimated 29 mpg highway and an 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback wagon can cruise over 500 miles before refueling. On the road, the Outback demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, in part because the low center of gravity of its powertrain more than offsets its tall bodywork. Steering is precise and predictable, and only some slight wind noise around the roof racks intrudes on the quiet ride.

CVT Automatic
Subaru's take on this fuel-saving transmission uses a metal band instead of a rubber belt, which it claims to improve durability. A paddle-shifted manual mode mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without needing a clutch pedal. Best of all, the CVT's estimated 22 city/29 highway mpg is better than with the 6-speed manual.


Electronic Parking Brake with Hill-Holder Function
The traditional parking brake handle is replaced by a soft-touch push/pull switch on the dash. The electronic brake system includes a feature that holds the brakes for a moment on inclines greater than 5 degrees, for easier takeoffs without unwanted rollback.

2012 Subaru Outback Details
Interior

The roomy, versatile 2012 Subaru Outback cabin is stylishly functional. Responding to owners' desires for more rear-seat room, Subaru added four inches of legroom and nearly three inches of headroom with the 2010 redesign. During our test drive, we comfortably fit three 6-foot adults in the back seat without their knees touching the front seatbacks. Wide front seats and a reclining rear seat further improve comfort, while upscale models offer power driver's-side lumbar support and leather seating. A dash-mounted electronic parking brake frees up console space for water bottles and latte cups. Automatic-transmission models also feature steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Exterior

While previous Subaru Outback generations seemed more like a jacked-up, fender-flared Legacy, the newest models - including the 2012 Outback wagon – take on more personality of their own, with a 3-inch-higher roofline and a better-integrated look of ruggedness. Thick plastic cladding, a raised ride height and 8.7 inches of ground clearance reveal its off-road capability, while beefy black roof rails conceal fold-out crossbars that stow away to reduce drag when not in use. Frameless windows, a former Subaru styling cue that led to some complaints of wind noise, are replaced by fully framed glass, a design that also helps improve body rigidity.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base Subaru Outback 2.5i features all-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission, 16-inch wheels, 4-wheel ABS disc brakes, AM/FM/CD audio with auxiliary jack, manual air conditioning, power windows/locks, height-adjustable driver's seat, front side and side-curtain airbags, keyless entry and stability control. A 6-cylinder 3.6R version is similar, though with a 5-speed automatic, 17-inch alloy wheels, and a cargo cover. The 2.5i Premium adds an automatic transmission and 17-inch wheels, while both 2.5i and 3.6R Premium models include a 10-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 6-speaker audio with Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity. The 2.5i and 3.6R Limited trims add a front underguard, an All-Weather Package (heated front seats, mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers), plus leather, a power passenger seat, dual-zone climate control and 9-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system.

Optional Equipment

Most options are offered according to trim. The base 2012 Subaru Outback 2.5i offers the CVT automatic, All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors and wiper de-icers) and an alloy wheels/foglight package. The 3.6R base trim offers almost no options, not even heated seats (all 3.6R models include a 5-speed conventional automatic). The 2.5i and 3.6R Premium trims offer the harman/kardon audio, All-Weather Package and a moonroof /rearview camera package. Limiteds offer voice-activated navigation with rearview camera and auto-dimming mirrors. Subaru dealers also have a generous selection of accessories, from cargo carriers to a rear-seat entertainment system.

Under the Hood

Subaru offers two boxer engines in the 2012 Outback wagon, a low-profile and naturally balanced design in which the pistons lay flat in a horizontally opposed configuration. The 2.5-liter four delivers 170 horsepower, not best-in-class but enough muscle for satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the 6-speed manual offers sportier performance. The most refined choice for the Outback is the 6-cylinder and 5-speed conventional automatic, whose strong acceleration and passing power come at the expense of fuel efficiency: an estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway (versus the 4-cylinder CVT's 22/29).

2.5-liter boxer-4
170 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
170 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 22/29 (CVT automatic)

3.6-liter boxer-6
256 horsepower @ 6,600 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25

Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

2012 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 187 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.8/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Thought it would be a great, is even better

By on Monday, July 14, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 26,700

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
8/10

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."

12 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Love my Subaru. Second Outback.

By on Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 60,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Cons: "Speakers are not great."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"Handles well in bad weather. New England can throw us some humdinger weather. Economical fuel. Average highway 33 miles per gallon."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Comfortable, Safe, and Reliable

By on Saturday, June 28, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Same as the title"

Cons: "none"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I bought my 2012 Subaru Outback 3.6r Limited in January 2014. I found it to be extremely reliable, comfortable to drive, quiet, and most importantly very safe. On 20 June 2014 I was driving on Colorado Highway 96 when a pickup truck ran a stop sign. I t-boned the pickup at about 55mph. My business partner and I walked away with only bumps, bruises and some aches and pains. No broken bones, no stitches, no scars... I survived!"

9 people out of 11 found this review helpful

A Great Vehicle

By on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 32,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Excellent all the way around !"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"We first bought one for my wife, we liked it so much we bought a 2nd one for myself. Great car for the money, great quality, great milage."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

Great Vehicle, Just too small for us

By on Monday, June 23, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 34,226

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Size, handling, reliability, style. AWD!"

Cons: "lack of rear reading lights."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"This is our second Outback Ltd. We sold the 2012 because we put a lot of highway miles on cars. I shouldn't admit 85 mph all the way to New Mexico in Interstates, but we did, and with a 25.7 mpg average over 3,000 miles. The puddle lights were very convenient for the rattle snake areas where we stopped, like my father-in-laws yard. It is a very quiet and comfortable ride with both front and rear leg room comparable to larger vehicles. It is not small by any means. To us the only lacking interior features are no reading lights in the back, the front interior lights blind the driver if turned on at night, and there are no magazine holders behind the front seats. Driving it on winding country roads is reminiscent of my sports car days-this car drives great! The handling and braking are superb."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

2011 Subaru Outback

By on Sunday, June 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 23,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
10/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Comfortable, capable, economical, quiet."

Cons: "Not a sports car, but no sport utility vehicle is."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9

Door open only to let the heat out before I got in to drive. Yes the AC works fine, but it takes a while to cool the vehicle after sitting in the day.

"I have one car to drive daily and live with for years. I chose the 2011 Subaru Outback Premium. After driving it for 4 years, here is my evaluation. Each category based on 10 point scale> Comfortable cruiser:10 -I could drive all day except windy days, when the vehicle gets pushed around by the wind. Fuel Economy:8 For All Wheel Drive -great, I average 29 MPG Exterior styling: 8 I don't like arches over the wheels, headlight assembly looks too busy, other wise is very good! Interior :7 -Uncomfortable seat fabic. light color not suitable for an SUV. Surfaces have a cheap feel. Reliability:10 It has never shown a hint of any kind of failure. Engine:8 -A little noisy at high RPMs, but it rarely gets there. At 65 MPH the engine turns only 2000 RPMs. CVT auto transmission:10 -The trans always select the right ratio and you never feel it shifting. All auto transmissions should be this good!! -Suspension:9 -durable but a little tippy during high speed turns. Instruments and controls:8 -Needs engine temp gauge, Radio a little complicated, traction control and parking brake release buttons not visible from driving position. -Cargo capacity:9 -I have hauled all kinds of bulky items."

17 people out of 18 found this review helpful

Door open only to let the heat out before I got in to drive. Yes the AC works fine, but it takes a while to cool the vehicle after sitting in the day.

Share this page

Advertisement

Why ads?
Trading in or Selling? Know where you stand with the most up-to-date Kelley Blue Book Value at your fingertips. See your car's value

Buying this car?

See if you qualify for
up
to
Cash Back
on a new
Details