By KBB.com Editors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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).
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)
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.
By karlrad on Wednesday, February 25, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,852overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safe, comfortable, reliable, rides great."
Cons: "Not the best shifter"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"We bought this Outback Premium 2014 on August 2013, a 6 speed 2.5 liter and after 16000 miles it runs better than the day we took it; has averaged 21.54 mpg so far, I have a heavy foot, always revving it to 5000+ rpm. The Outback is great on the highway, on rough roads and on snow. NO complaints. It has had all of its oil changes and revisions, all wheel alignments and filter changes. It has never visited the dealer with a problem. It is extremely comfortable, lots of room (we brought home from Sears our elliptical) and the rear seats recline. I have never been without enough power when passing on a mountain climb on the highway. We are so happy with it, we are going to buy the new 3.6R with 6 cylinders for my wife, all the whistles. She prefers a Levorg, but we cannot buy it here and importing it from Japan is too expensive and right hand drive... If you want a comfortable, safe and reliable car, get an Outback. If you want a sports car, get a BRZ. Then, this car is assembled in the USA. A bonus."
By pj on Monday, February 23, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 11,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Had charcoal katskin leather interior added by dealer on new purchase last year. Thinking about trading in on 2015 model. Red Venetian Pearl exterior. Just added trailer hitch receiver."
By defLinux on Tuesday, February 03, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Safe, stable, fun and comfortable"
Cons: "Bluetooth integration needs work"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've thought hard about it, and except for the area of Bluetooth integration, I can't think of anything I don't like about my car. It feels secure and stable, it's comfortable (but not cushy), and it carries an amazing amount of stuff with the rear seat down. I have been very impressed with the design of this vehicle, both exterior and interior. Materials are well chosen and things just fit together well. The only two areas that didn't get a 10 rating (I gave them 9), are driving dynamics and convenience. As far as driving goes, this car is fantastic right up to its limits - and then it gets a little wild. But if you are driving reasonably you will never see this, and the all wheel drive is great. The only other thing is the sound system. The Bluetooth setup takes a while. Only one phone can be a music source via Bluetooth - and it's a pain to change it all the time. You do have the option to plug in via USB though, so it's not a fatal flaw. The voice recognition, at least on my car, is a bit spotty. It often takes me two or three tries to successfully navigate the menus via voice, and dialing by voice (name or number) works only half the time. It is easier to put the number into the phone by hand and dial, then the speakerphone will take over. Overall, this is probably been the best car purchase I have made in 44 years of driving."
5 people out of 8 found this review helpful