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.
Favorite Features

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 174 Ratings for the 2010 - 2014 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    8.8/10
  • Reliability
    9.1/10
    Performance
    8.6/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.7/10

Good mileage, trouble free,

By on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 57,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
9/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Good value and mileage. good all around quality"

Cons: "Generic styling. Poor rear visability."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8

"Good quality. The pre 2010 were nicer driving. I would like the tail gate window to open. Had to buy sun roof to get back up camera, which is necessary on this vehicle."

I am glad I bought this vehicle

By on Friday, March 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "great in snow, good heated seats, wonderful sound"

Cons: "big and bulky to park, not the best gas mileage"

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

"I traded up from a 1996 Subaru to this 2012. I find it hard getting used to how big this vehicle is.Extremely hard to park. Perhaps it only takes some time getting used to it.It starts every time, the sound system is fabulous, defrosters are great and the ride is not bad. Most of the roads up here are dirt so I do like the 8 inch clearance. It's ability to go thru snow is admirable and I am quite pleased with that feature.It holds the road wonderfully. All in all I am fairly pleased with my purchase. But in all honesty, if Subaru downsized the Outback a foot or so I would be in line for it. The Forester holds no allure for me. I like the Outback."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Doesn't get anywhere near the mileage proclaimed.

By on Thursday, March 20, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 42,600

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
6/10

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

"My first Subaru. Not sure if it will be my last. Some things are great ( interior room, nice cabin). Things that are troublesome include a noisy heating/ cooling system, somewhat of a rough ride, and there is a 10/mpg disparity in gas mileage from summer to winter. Truly, 10/mpg less in the in the winter! This was explained to me at the dealership as "the gasoline additives used in the winter." That answer has always irked me as nothing of the kind has ever occurred in my Toyotas or Hondas. That said, I have had not had any problem with the mechanical performance of the car. Love my heated seats and remote start! Wy the gas cap doesn't have a resting place in the little door like my Toyotas had is beyond me. That would be a very inexpensive improvement that would protect the exterior paint around the gas fill area. I never use the "nifty" shift paddles. More of a gimmick for younger consumers."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Best vehicle I have owned!

By on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 35,000

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

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

"Perfect in every way. Only thing I would add if I could (but not necessary; just nice with kids) would be auto locking doors at 15 mph or so. Nice feature on other cars I've owned but, again, not necessary."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Outstanding design, engineering and craftsmanship

By on Tuesday, March 04, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 68,000

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: "Overall value, adaptability, design, utility,"

Cons: "none"

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."

9 people out of 10 found this review helpful

very nice. so far-so good. my first subaru

By on Monday, March 03, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 9,800

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
8/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
9/10

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."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

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?