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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 241 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.7/10
    Quality
    8.7/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.5/10
  • Comfort
    8.7/10
    Styling
    8.6/10

Bought brand new. Best new car purchase choice

By on Friday, June 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000

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: "All. Plenty of room, great in winter conditions"

Cons: "Haven't found any yet"

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

"Has passed my expectations. Right now I average 30-33 mpg summer driving and 28-30 in the winter. Heated seats are fantastic along with dual controls and remote start. I have not had a need to utilize the top cargo; however, impressed with how much I can haul in the trunk/hatch area and better when seats are folded down. Nothing less that 12 bags of mulch. Saved me from having to drive my truck, which doesn't come close to the fuel efficiency. The only things I'm not impressed with is the tire sensors, but that's with any vehicle and not specific to my Outback."

2 people out of 4 found this review helpful

Nice car, really dumb roof rack.

By on Friday, June 26, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 38,000

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
9/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
6/10

Pros: "Best AWD on the market."

Cons: "Idiot roof rack."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7

"I can echo all the good comments from other reviewers regarding comfort, drivability and other topics, but the so-called ingenious "why didn't anybody think of this before" roof rack is junk. If it disappears into the side rails for fuel economy, show me stats to prove this. The bars are aero shaped for a reason--fuel economy and wind noise. Okay, here's my gripe. This car is marketed to the outdoor crowd, folks who carry their toys on the roof. Those big blocks of plastic on the ends of the rack do nothing but supposedly look good, and the bar spread for attaching load carriers like kayak saddles is a bit too short. In fact, Subaru even cautions against loading a kayak or canoe 17 feet or longer on the rack. Enter Yakima Racks, whose engineers like a challenge. They came up with a system that drills on and that works well, but hey, it costs an arm and a leg. Other rack companies have their own solutions but they are far from ideal. Subaru bonked it on this one. Look at the rail rack on the older Outbacks, say from 2001 up to 2010 when the current evil design happened. It was and is easy to mount just about anything on those rails. Subaru forums are full of complaints about this current rack. Other than that, it's a fine car."

Great concept, mediocre follow through

By on Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 67,000

10 5.0
overall rating 5 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
5/10
Value
5/10
Reliability
2/10
Quality
2/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
9/10

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

"In 67000 miles we've had 3 interior leaks, 2 headlamps replaced (major job on this model), A/C system leak, the rear brake pads wore out before the front (figure that one out), both the wiper and mirror heaters were repaired. My biggest gripe with the design is the roof rack. It's painted black, so attaching the kayak carriers has rubbed off patches of paint. The bars themselves rock back and forth, making the carrier seem totally unstable. And the fittings have rusted. I don't like the CVT transmission, although that's more of a personal taste thing."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Great Vehicle

By on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great for outdoor people, lots of ground clearance"

Cons: "4 way flasher location"

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

"My wife and I both own Outback Limited's and have had 7 since 2005. My only complaints are with the 4 way flasher location and the XM or Sirius antenna location...not sure if we'll get XM or Sirius due to the fact that the radio continually cuts out when you're near any type of 2 story building or hill. MOVE THE ANTENNA BACK TO THE WINDSHIELD WHERE IT HAD WORKED FLAWLESSLY FOR THE PREVIOUS 10 YEARS ON OTHER SUBARU'S."

6 people out of 8 found this review helpful

There is a Problem with the Brakes

By on Sunday, June 07, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,480

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Great Gas Millage"

Cons: "Brake Problems"

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

"At about 1000 miles the Brake Pedal began making noise and the Brake Pedal became spongy. I spent 800 miles trying to work out. I took it to A Dealer 1809 miles and they documented the problem with a "Tech Tip" "Master Cylinder..no long/short issues...normal operating characteristics". Same with the spongy brake pedal. The problem remained so bad I changed my driving habits and the Automatic now became a Manual. Every time I come to a stop I shift into neutral. 12,000 the Brake Pedal becomes so spongy WHEN I APPLY THE BRAKE MY FOOT ALSO ENDS UP ON THE GAS PEDAL so the only way I ended up not crashing at a Big Box was turning the key off and figuring out what happened. 12,116 I took to A DEALER, Brake Noise and Brake Pedal to the Floor. This time I got the Service Adviser to at least get into the car. He admitted the seemed to go lower than normal. He admitted that other Customers have complained about the same thing. 3 hours later the same as 1 year before. Same "Tech Advisory" Normal Operating and Brake Pedal Per Manufacture Specs. I am stuck with it. Subaru has a problem and will not fix it. What's new!"

4 people out of 7 found this review helpful

This SUV is the best thing ever in the snow.

By on Sunday, May 31, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,320

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: "In my eyes this SUV is about the best"

Cons: "No cons with me"

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

"As I was saying the best in snow and does everything the dealer said it would. This has been a pleasure of any car I have owned, the dependability is awesome. Starts even in freezing weather, as it does get every cold here in Western New York. We had a lot of snow this year, and it got through 24" of the white stuff with no problem. I own a Ford pick-up 2 wheel drive and it beats it by far. I would suggest anyone to look at the SUV before buying anything else. I give it a 10+ in my book and one other thing no recalls so far."

1 person out of 4 found this review helpful

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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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