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2014 Subaru Outback Review

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2014 Subaru Outback Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 6.8

The 2014 Subaru Outback is somewhat like a wagon and perhaps more like an SUV. To practical buyers it offers the spacious interior and versatility of a more-or-less traditional midsize SUV, with driving attributes and fuel efficiency more in line with a wagon. But perhaps its strongest virtue is the all-weather capability delivered by its standard Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. If Subarus are known for anything, it's their well-deserved reputation for dealing with just about any weather condition Mother Nature can toss their way. Other vehicles might offer most of what the Outback delivers, and may be more engaging to drive or present more stylish faces, but the Subaru's all-around proficiency on good days and bad gives it a unique spot among its competition.

You'll Like This Car If...

Need a lot of interior room? Reasonable fuel economy? Rugged durability? All-weather capability? Good results on crash tests? And all that at an affordable price? The 2014 Outback should be high on your list.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Just because it's an SUV doesn't mean the Outback can deal with a trailer over 3,000 pounds or more than five occupants; if those are your requirements you need something bigger, a Toyota Highlander or Honda Pilot. And if you don't need all-wheel drive, there are less-expensive, although smaller, choices.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 6.8
  • 6.4
  • 6.9
  • 6.9
  • 6.8
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#4

out of 4

Fuel Economy

#3

out of 4

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.6 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2014 Subaru Outback Low/wide front photo What's New for 2014

In 2013, the Outback received significant updates, and for 2014 the changes are minimal. The 2.5i Premium models now include, as standard, the All-Weather Package (heated front seats, heated side mirrors and windshield de-icer) and the display audio system (4.3-inch screen, six speakers, SiriusXM Satellite Radio).

Driving the Outback
2014 Subaru Outback Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions If fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2013 Subaru Outback's 2.5-liter four with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is your best bet. The 173-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 discernible gearshifts, as with 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 30 mpg highway and an 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback can cruise well 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 intrudes on the reasonably quiet ride.

CONTINUOUSLY VARIABLE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION (CVT)
Subaru's take on the popular, fuel-saving transmission-without-gears features a paddle-shifted manual mode that mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without needing a clutch pedal. Best of all, the Outback CVT's estimated 24 city/30 highway mpg is better than with the 6-speed manual.

SYMMETRICAL ALL-WHEEL DRIVE
Perhaps Subaru's biggest claim to fame is its Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, which continually sends power to all four wheels for optimum traction. If you live where the weather can turn foul and the roads slick, this could be reason enough to consider the Outback.

2014 Subaru Outback Details
2014 Subaru Outback Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The roomy, versatile Outback cabin is stylishly functional and remarkably roomy. Of particular note is the rear seat – we were able to fit three 6-foot adults in the rear seat, everybody was comfortable and none had knees touching the backs of the front seats. Equally comfortable are the wide front seats, which clearly are configured for adults, a reclining rear seat further improves comfort, while the upscale Limited and Premium trims 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
2014 Subaru Outback photo

The Subaru Outback is admittedly not the most stylish thing on the road, but it is clean and purposeful. The high roofline promises (and delivers) ample interior space, the generous ride height (with 8.7 inches of ground clearance) announces its off-road and bad-weather capabilities, while the sturdy black roof rails provide secure mounting when carrying extra stuff on the roof (and the roof-rail crossbars stow away when not in use, to reduce aerodynamic drag and wind noise). Up front, the headlights, front bumper and prominent grille give a sleek appearance that blends well with the overall rugged character.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

For 2014, the Outback is offered in four trim levels: 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited and 3.6R Limited. Base 2.5i models feature all-wheel drive, a 6-speed manual transmission, 16-inch steel wheels, roof rails and a 4-speaker audio system with Bluetooth and a USB port. The Premium trim adds alloy wheels, fog lights, a 10-way power driver's seat, the All-Weather Package and the display audio system, while Limited versions include leather seating, dual-zone climate control and a 440-watt harman/kardon sound system. Safety features include six airbags, electronic stability control, and Subaru's EyeSight driver-assistance system (includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, and lane-departure warning).

Optional Equipment

Most options for the Outback are dependent upon trim level. The CVT automatic transmission is the lone option on the base 2.5i, with Premium and Limited models offering a Power Moonroof Package with a power moonroof, auto-dimming rearview mirror and rear backup camera. Limited models offer voice-activated navigation, the EyeSight safety system and a Special Appearance Package with metallic gray exterior adornments, wood-grain-style interior trim and keyless access with push-button start. The standard sound system has been upgraded for 2014, but audiophiles may want to choose the optional 9-speaker harman/kardon setup.

Under the Hood
2014 Subaru Outback Engine photo

The Outback is available with a choice of two "boxer" engines. "Boxer" means the cylinders are horizontal and opposed to each other, so the pistons go back forth somewhat like a boxer's fists, and the engine is low and flat, which reduces the height of the center of gravity – which in turn aids handling. The 2.5-liter 4-cylinder delivers 173 horsepower, not best-in-class but enough muscle for satisfactory performance. Matching 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 3.6-liter 6-cylinder and its conventional 5-speed 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 24/30).

2.5-liter boxer-4
173 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/28 mpg (manual), 24/30 mpg (automatic)

3.6-liter boxer-6
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg

For 2014 Subaru is holding the Outback pricing to 2013 levels for most models. The Outback starts at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just over $24,000 for the 2.5i and tops out north of $36,000 for a loaded 3.6R Limited. Pricing is on par with the majority of compact SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape, and undercuts the Toyota Venza by roughly $3,000. Everyone wants a great deal on a new car, and KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price can help by revealing what buyers in your area are actually paying for the 2014 Outback. The Outback is expected to retain higher-than-average residual values over a 5-year period, besting the Ford Escape and the Nissan Rogue, but falling just shy of the Venza, CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox.

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2014 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 198 Ratings for the 2010 - 2015 models.

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

A good car!

By on Saturday, September 13, 2014

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

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

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

"I have had my Subaru for about 8 months. Overall I am very happy. The only real problem I found is the doors, especially the back door. It looks like it's closed, but isn't. This can cause the alarm to go off. When I took it to the dealership because of this, I was given a lesson in shutting it!!! Apparently two hands is best. What happens if you have groceries, or a dog, or both?? I have got better at closing the door, although now and again it happens."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

Best car I ever had!

By on Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,102

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
8/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Best value, reliability, comfort, spaciousness"

Cons: "Gear shift could be better"

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

"I bought a 2014 Outback 2.5i Premium 6 speed a year ago, now I have little over 13000 miles on it. I can say this is the best car I have owned and for the money we paid, you cannot get anything with all the equipment it has for such a price. Subaru’s AWD system was a sell point, since I do not want any FWD cars anymore: I am sick of replacing boots and front axles. This Outback is extremely spacious, comfortable, and reliable. It handles very well on any terrain, snow or rain, sand or pavement. The finish and quality of the car is very good, I may not have ash wood like a luxury car, nor do I have Napa leather, but I did not pay three times what I paid to get them. Our next Outback – for my wife – will be a 2016 3.6R with all the goodies (Insight, power rear door, navigation, and sunroof). The mileage is ok, having into consideration I drive aggressively and fast, my revs climb to 5k – 6k quite often. I got on average 21.38 mpg for 13k miles. So far, no problems whatsoever with the car. Just oil changes, alignment and tire rotation. My dealer in Tysons Corner, VA is the best. Best price for the car and they have maintenance specials constantly, which save you money. I get a free car wash anytime I want. I can recommend this car to anybody who wants a nice ride. Not a sports car. This one, I shall have it forever, since they do not put a stick shift anymore in an Outback, it is a classic now…"

6 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Reliability problems with the CVT

By on Sunday, September 07, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000

10 4.0
overall rating 4 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
4/10
Value
4/10
Reliability
4/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
7/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Great in snow, good mpg, inexpensive"

Cons: "Unreliable CVT transmission, $$ maintainance"

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

"I loved this car. It's great in the snow, comfortable to drive, and a good value. That is, until the valve body in the CVT failed at 66k miles. The dealer and SOA have told me they have no interest in helping me out with the repair since I hadn't brought the car in to have the CVT fluid inspected at 30k or 60k. The manual only states it should be inspected at those intervals, and only recommends replacement under severe driving conditions. Fluid replacement costs ~$270 cause it's not really a DIY thing! I expect that kind of crazy maintainance requirement from a high performance sports car or a vehicle used for heavy duty work but not an every day driver/commuter car. I had been told the fluid was only supposed to require early replacement under severe driving conditions, but I don't drive in the city, don't live in the mountains, and have never towed or hauled anything with this car. Silly me for thinking I could maintain the car myself and replace the fluid around 70-80k like I have with all my previous Auto transmission vehicles. They should either update the owner manual to specify CVT fluid replacement at 30k even under normal driving conditions or they should admit that this failure is unusual and help me out with the repair since I'm only 6k miles out of warranty. Otherwise, they shouldn't be surprised when I say that I don't consider the CVT to be reliable and can't recommend this car to others. It's sad cause I have really loved the Subarus that I have owned in the past."

3 people out of 5 found this review helpful

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