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2012 Subaru Outback

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2012 Subaru Outback Review

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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

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2012 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 232 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
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

great auto ,but for us BIG GUYS

By on Saturday, May 23, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "fun vehicle"

Cons: "as stated above"

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

"vehicle needs to be 3" wider in the cab and 4"longer,need to add 8 way power seats for both pass. and rider.other then that its a great vehicle and very good on gas."

Won't purchase another

By on Sunday, April 19, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Nothing stands out"

Cons: "Quality & design deficiencies"

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

"I was impressed with the test drives in 2012 & 2013, but in 2013 there were too many quality/design deficiencies. I add a qt. of oil every 1000mi, drivetrain vibrates between 45-60 mph, window seals keep windows from operating properly thus wind noise, belt squeaks and the power just isn't there. These issues are not common to only my 2013 Outback. Currently I am participating in an oil use campaign, several dealers have tried to correct the vibration. This car has 20000mi."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Super reliable! 120k and no problems.

By on Thursday, April 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 120,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"We have been very pleased with out Outback. Moved down in size and a few creature comforts, but we got more than we hoped for considering the price."

1 person out of 3 found this review helpful

it's ok, but has a few problams

By on Monday, April 13, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: slow, poor 6-sp man. used oil

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "awd. solid car"

Cons: "oil useage. noisy and weak engine. cheap paint"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 5

"i bought a 2013 6-sp. man. premium model new in july of 2013.nice car, decent mpg, quiet and solid. didn't want the CVT, so i bought the 6-speed. it was a little sloppy. after several thousand miles found the engine to loud and not very powerful. the paint is to thin or something, ended up with dents and dings everywhere. always had to check and add a little oil. The final straw was a drive to Marco Island, Florida from cincinnati. got 10 miles from marco and the oil light came on. checked the the dip stick, had to add about 3 qts. of oil. subaru has a law suit against them for oil useage. did love the AWD. ended up trading it in on a used land rover lr2 in oct. 2014. love it! big 6 cyl and regular 6-speed auto. quick and quiet car. hopefully the 2015's are better."

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Best and most reliable car I have ever owned

By on Sunday, April 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 165,000

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
9/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "space,versatility,dependability,reliable,comfort"

Cons: "lacks a bit of pickup,blutooth mic pickup"

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

"Thia is the best car I have ever owned! Reliable, dependable, versatile ,exceptional. At 165,000 miles I still am Original Brakes and just put on my second replacement set of tires..replaced the originals with Michelon Defendors;helped ride and good for 90000 miles.ONLY complaint is Bluetooth mic pickup is not real clear for others listening to me, but I hear them great. Will definitely buy another Outback! perfect size and versatility. Great gas milage as well."

6 people out of 10 found this review helpful

Rust its what makes a subaru

By on Saturday, March 21, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
Not Rated
Performance
1/10
Styling
2/10
Comfort
4/10

Pros: "all wheel drive, roomy"

Cons: "rust, drives average"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 2

rusty exhaust

"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."

12 people out of 20 found this review helpful

rusty exhaust

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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

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