The Subaru Outback is many things to many people, from a dauntless daily driver for commuters in cold-weather states to an adventure-ready wagon for outdoor enthusiasts.

Turns out this Subie's everything-to-everyone sensibilities also make it an exceptionally talented family vehicle. In discussing the Subaru Outback as a contender for this year's Best Family Cars, telling words immediately came to mind from our editors. "Slam dunk" and "a total package" were among them. The latter couldn't be more appropriate. Several of our editors agreed that if we could only recommend one car to a majority of buyers, the Outback could satisfy the needs of an impressive many.

An Automotive Amalgamation

Fresh off a complete revamp, the 2016 Subaru Outback still feels like a cross between a wagon and an SUV, and it provides the benefits of both. As with all Subarus except the BRZ sports car, the Outback comes with Subaru's excellent all-wheel-drive system that provides uncanny grip on slick roads and confidence in everyday driving. Moreover, this 5-passenger, 2-row crossover boasts 8.7 inches of ground clearance. Combined with its standard hill descent control and X-Mode system that manages power output and traction control, the Outback is a surprisingly capable off-roader.

Even if you never venture beyond pavement (which would be a shame), it's easy to appreciate the Outback's commanding driver's position, great visibility and comfortable road manners. The standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is remarkably efficient, returning up to 33 mpg. For better acceleration and more overall oomph, a stout 6-cylinder is available. Regardless of powertrain, the Outback can be outfitted with blind-spot monitoring and Subaru's EyeSight driving aid that includes a pre-collision automatic braking system, lane-keeping assist and adaptive cruise control.

Room to Roam in a Package that Adds Up

Inside, the Outback provides excellent room for passengers and cargo. Child seats are a cinch to install in the rear seats, which also have the benefit of reclining. The Subaru's large, flat load floor will hold a family's worth of gear, and if more room is needed the rear seats fold in a 60/40 split to create an SUV-like 73-plus cubic feet of storage.

Individually, all these assets are beneficial. But the magic of the Outback is that it's greater than the sum of its attributes. They all add up to provide a remarkable synergy, creating a single car that can satisfy a multitude of families.

More Subaru Outback

Build and price your own 2016 Subaru Outback, and read our full review to find out more about Subaru's versatile crossover wagon.

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