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2015 Subaru Outback Review

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2015 Subaru Outback Expert Review

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The Subaru Outback is a midsize crossover SUV that runs against the conventional wisdom that these "soft-roaders" never venture off the pavement. To the contrary, you're far more likely to see an Outback covered in mud than a Toyota Venza, Chevrolet Equinox, or Ford Edge. Since its introduction in the late 1990s, the Subaru Outback's capability appealed to outdoorsy types, and the 2015 Outback ups the ante with an all-wheel-drive system enhanced with X-Mode for better off-road stability, and expanded availability of the latest version of EyeSight, Subaru's collision-mitigation and active-cruise technology. It's all wrapped up in sharper SUV-wagon styling that hides a roomier interior, a combination that's sure to keep the 2015 Outback as muddy as ever.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you like going off-road to hike, snowshoe, fish, kayak, ski, snowboard, bike, canoe, camp, spelunk, or rock climb, you might already have a Subaru Outback parked in your driveway. The good news is that the Outback SUV is just as good in town as it is on the trail.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Like its predecessors, the 2015 Subaru Outback isn't much for towing, so you might need something bigger if you must tow a sizeable boat or ATVs. Likewise, it only carries five people. And while it's handy off-road, its lack of a low-range mode means it's not up to hard-core off-roading.

How It Ranks

#12

out of 38

Fuel Economy

#23

out of 38

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

8.6 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2015 Subaru Outback Low/wide front photo What's New for 2015

The 2015 Subaru Outback is all new this year. Among its many key features is the addition of X-Mode to the all-wheel-drive system, which enhances off-road capability. It also expands the availability of EyeSight, which uses two cameras for active cruise control, collision warning, and collision mitigation.

Driving the Outback
2015 Subaru Outback Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions The 2015 Subaru Outback SUV is designed for two opposing tasks. One is to be comfortable and quiet on the road, while the other is to be capable and dependable...

... off it. Yet Subaru has managed to admirably combine these two competing interests. The 2015 Outback is quieter than its predecessor, and while the body definitely leans in corners more than the Subaru Legacy sedan upon which it's based, it's always stable and never bouncy over bumps. Neither the 4-cylinder nor the 6-cylinder engine makes the Outback quick, but the 4-cylinder can be downright pokey from a dead stop. Off-road, X-Mode works extremely well to maintain low-speed traction, even when a wheel's off the ground, and Hill Descent Control takes over the brakes on steep descents so the driver can concentrate on steering around obstacles. Active Torque Vectoring enhances traction at higher speeds by automatically routing power for better stability.

X-MODE
This simple button does wonders for the 2015 Outback's off-road abilities. By ensuring the Outback can maintain traction under the worst circumstances, it turns this from a high-riding Legacy station wagon into a real off-roader. Even experienced drivers will appreciate the added control of the Outback's Hill Descent Control.

PIVOTING ROOF CROSSBAR
Falling squarely into why-didn't-anybody-think-of-this-before territory, the Subaru Outback's roof crossbars pivot out of the way, stowing in the roof rails themselves when not in use. It's ingenious. Not only does it mean they're always available, but when they're stowed, your fuel economy improves.

2015 Subaru Outback Details
2015 Subaru Outback Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The 2015 Subaru Outback essentially shares its interior with the new Subaru Legacy. This is a good thing. The new layout is clean and functional, and we're especially fond of the new touch-screen infotainment system's design. The seats are comfortable in all positions, especially the roomy, reclining rear seat (thanks to the Outback's tall roof). Cargo space in this SUV is obviously leaps and bounds better than the Legacy sedan. That goes double with the seats folded. It's also quieter than its predecessor, thanks in part to the way the continuously variable automatic transmission mimics gear changes at full throttle.

Exterior
2015 Subaru Outback photo

While the 2015 Outback's styling still favors practical over pizazz, this new Subaru SUV-wagon is definitely an improvement over its predecessor. The neatly integrated headlights and taillights blend with an upright, chunky look that incorporates Subaru's new hexagonal grille and the Outback's traditional round fog lights and rugged-looking lower body cladding. Clever touches include grille shutters that close at speed to improve fuel economy, and LED taillights. We also like the standard roof rails with their integrated stowable crossbars.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2015 Subaru Outback comes nicely equipped, even on the base model. Of course, there are the usual comfort and convenience features: power windows, air conditioning, power mirrors, cruise control, and so on. However, even the base Outback comes with a backup camera and advanced safety features like under-seat-cushion airbags to prevent submarining in a crash. The touch-screen audio system includes a 6.2-inch screen, Aha, iHeart Radio, Pandora and, of course, Bluetooth and USB. Every Outback also comes with X-Mode, hill-descent control, active torque vectoring, and grille shutters, the last of which helps improve highway fuel economy.

Optional Equipment

Among the most notable Outback SUV-wagon options is Subaru's EyeSight system, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, pre-collision braking, and, on some models, steering-responsive fog lights. Also available is a power liftgate with a programmable maximum height, voice-activated navigation with a larger 7-inch screen, and a Rear Vehicle Detection System that combines blind-spot detection, lane-change assist, and rear cross-traffic alerts. Also available is a leather interior trimmed with classy-looking faux wood on Limited models, along with an upgraded harman/kardon audio system.

Under the Hood
2015 Subaru Outback Engine photo

Subaru uses what are known as "boxer" engines, with horizontally opposed pistons. Imagine a "V" type engine, then widen the V until you've made it into a flat line, and you have the layout of the Subaru engines. This "flat" layout lowers the center of gravity to aid handling, and it's also a design that's inherently low-vibration. In the 2015 Outback SUV-wagon, a 4-cylinder is standard, with a 6-cylinder available on Limited models. Regardless of engine choice, you get a continuously variable automatic transmission that includes steering wheel-mounted paddles to select pre-set ratios to simulate a manual transmission. All Outbacks come with all-wheel drive, a system that includes X-Mode for low-speed traction, and Active Torque Vectoring for high-speed stability in corners.

2.5-liter flat-4
175 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg

3.6-liter flat-6
256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg

A well-equipped base Subaru Outback 2.5i starts a little under $26,000. Premium models start a little under $28,000, and that can increase to more than $31,000 when you start adding options like a moonroof, power liftgate and EyeSight. $31,000 will also let you step into a Limited model with leather seats and wood trim. Add about $3,000 if you want a 6-cylinder engine. A loaded Limited with a 6-cylinder will run nearly $40,000. Note that the least expensive 6-cylinder Outback is in the mid-$30,000 range, while competitors like the Ford Edge and Chevy Equinox offer a 6-cylinder for less than $30,000. We think a 6-cylinder Premium model priced closer to $30,000 would broaden the Outback SUV-wagon's appeal. Subaru Outbacks usually hold their value better than average for the class. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.

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2015 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.6
Out of 10

Based on 57 Ratings for the 2015 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.9/10
    Quality
    8.4/10
  • Reliability
    9.0/10
    Performance
    8.8/10
  • Comfort
    8.9/10
    Styling
    8.9/10

First Impressions- WOW......Amazing!

By on Thursday, August 27, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 130

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "Quality, features, performance, and safety"

Cons: "None so far"

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

"We just purchased the 2016 Outback Limited with EyeSight. It's basically fully loaded. This is our 3rd Subaru. We started with a 2012 Impreza (which we traded in) and then a 2013 Crosstrek. As I'm ready to retire, I was looking for a new vehicle that included the latest safety features. As I learned about the EyeSight system, I was intrigued. Simply put, it's totally amazing. Everything seems to work as advertised. The display when one engages the adaptive cruise control shows the vehicle icon and the vehicle in front of it. The lanes will blink if one is crossing lanes without using the turn signal. The lane assist is amazing. When engaged, it gently but firmly steers the vehicle back in its lane, but is inactive if you mean to cross lanes and use the turn signals. The display even shows when the vehicle is braking. The vehicle will brake on its own when EyeSight is engaged and you keep your foot off the brake pedal. We're still learning how all of the safety features work. The 12 Harman-Kardon speakers are great, and the Infotainment system looks impressive, but I have to learn all of its features. The Outback feels very luxurious inside. We like our Venetian Red Pearl exterior. The alloy wheels are sharp-looking. The car has a solid feel to it and the ride is smooth, but not too smooth so that you lose the feel for the road. The Outback definitely has better acceleration than either the Impreza or the Crosstrek. It's amazing that the stated fuel economy is exactly the same for the 2016 Outback and 2013 Crosstrek. The side mirrors do indicate when there is a vehicle in the blind spot. All in all, a very impressive technological tour de force. But, it is still an Outback, with lots of "for people on-the-go" features and great interior human and storage space. Over the years I have observed that many people who retire buy a new Cadillac or Lexus (or similar). The Outback is meant for active people of all ages, including those that are retiring. Can't wait to use it in the snow. In short, the Outback is the "let's go and enjoy the outdoors" vehicle that we all expect, and much more in terms of quality, features, performance, and safety. Great job Subaru!"

Good car if you are deaf to wind noise.

By on Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I owned and sold this car
Reason: wind noise

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "preformance, fuel milage, navagation"

Cons: "wind noise from cross winds,"

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

"Bought a new 316R limited with the notion of keeping it for a few years. Liked the features for the most part. The aggravating wind noise was the deciding factor for trading with less than 4K miles."

4 people out of 4 found this review helpful

long time fan of Honda but Honda let me down

By on Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 6,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

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

Pros: "very efficient car, good price, very safe"

Cons: "lack engine refinement like Honda/Toyota"

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

"I have owned 6 different model of Honda/Acura cars and SUVs. I called myself Honda mechanic and I know most of their I4 and V6 ins and outs. It's very sad to see the quality of Honda/Acura went down hill like a rolling ball. Now I found Subaru. I love every thing in my Outback so far. I will own the WRX someday when my children out of my house. Subaru is good value, consider sophisticated AWD system with seasonable price, safety & reliability."

7 people out of 8 found this review helpful

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