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2011 Subaru Outback

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2011 Subaru Outback Review

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KBB Expert Rating: 7.2

The 2010 Subaru Outback is the perfect anti- SUV and one of the best-selling wagons in America. It's as agile as most mid-size sedans, but offers much of the off-road and cargo capabilities 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 the original concept yet achieves major improvements in the areas of interior room, fuel economy and flexibility. As with all Subarus, the Outback comes standard with Symmetrical All Wheel Drive, a proven system that allows this rugged wagon to conquer the toughest terrain and deepest snow.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you're looking for an economical wagon with an emphasis on safety, features, fuel-economy and true off-road ability, the Outback is pretty much your best bet.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you need a third-row seat, tow heavy loads or prefer the car-like styling found on the Volvo XC70 or Toyota Venza, the new Outback probably won't be a good fit.

What's New for 2011

For 2011, Subaru adds folding side mirrors to all Outback models and makes XM Satellite Radio part of the harman/kardon audio system. New features include a rear vision camera with 3.3-inch rearview mirror display (part of the Power Moonroof package) and mobile Wi-Fi device that turns the Outback into a rolling hotspot capable of accessing the internet up to 150-feet from the car.

Driving the Outback
Driving Impressions

If maximum fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2.5-liter four with the CVT is your best bet. With 170 horsepower on tap the engine has to work a...

... bit to move the Outback. Once up to speed the CVT finds and holds the engine's maximum torque and horsepower, providing the best acceleration and fuel economy mix. The CVT does take some getting used to as there are no discernable gear shifts common to a traditional automatic. The standard steering wheel mounted shift paddles, however, allow the driver to select and hold gears as with a manual transmission, thus making passing and merging maneuvers a bit quicker. With a projected 29 miles per gallon highway and a new 18-gallon fuel tank, the Outback can cruise over 500 miles before refueling. As for the Outback's driving characteristics, it demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, especially surprising considering the car's high center of gravity. The steering is precise and predictable and interior sound levels are fairly low, although we did detect some wind noise around the roof racks.

CVT Automatic
Subaru's take on this fuel saving transmission uses a metal band as opposed to a rubber belt, which it claims will improve durability and longevity. The Subaru CVT includes a manual shift mode that mimics the shift points of a manual transmission without the need for clutch pedal. Best of all, the CVT is expected to return and estimated 22 city and 29 highway, which is better than the six-speed manual.

Electronic Parking Brake with Hill Holder
Not only does this feature free up more space on the center console, it incorporates and electronic hill holder that, on inclines of more the five percent, holds the vehicle in place until the driver steps on the accelerator.

2011 Subaru Outback Details
2011 Subaru Outback photo Interior

One of the biggest complaints heard by generations of Outback owners involved the car's tiny back seat. The 2011 model addresses this concern by adding an additional four inches of legroom and nearly three inches of headroom. During our test drive, we comfortable fit three, six-foot tall adults in the back seat and still had space between their knees and the front seat backs. Wide front seats and a reclining rear seat further improve occupant comfort, while upscale models offer power driver's side lumbar support and leather seating surfaces. The addition of a dash-mounted electronic parking brake allows Subaru engineers to remove the center console handbrake handle, creating more space for water bottles and latte cups. Models equipped with automatic transmission also feature steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Exterior

The 2011 Outback is a radical departure from the previous three generations, models that where off-road capable, but very car like in appearance. The Outback is now more SUV-like appearance, with thick plastic cladding on the doors, rocker panels and front bumper, as well as larger headlamps and pronounced fender arches. The 2011 Outback is nearly three inches taller and two-inches wider than the previous generation (2005-2009), yet the car's overall length actually shrinks by one inch. Frameless windows, another shortcoming of former Outbacks, are replaced by fully-framed glass, a design that helps improve body rigidity as well as reduce wind noise. Subaru stretched the rear door allowing easier entry and exit, while up top a clever roof rack features folding cross rails that can be tucked away to reduce wind noise and drag. And, with 8.7-inches of ground clearance, the Outback can tackle just about any off-road condition.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The base Outback 2.5i features a six-speed manual transmission, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction control, six airbags including front side-impact and front and rear side curtain airbags, and Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive. Comfort and convenience features include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo with single CD player, steering wheel controls for the audio and cruise control, rear wiper washer, remote keyless entry, electronic parking brake with hill holder feature and the swing away cross rail roof rack. The Premium model adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat with power lumbar support, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and rear privacy glass. To this the Limited trim adds leather seating, and four-way power passenger seat, the All Weather Package (heated seats, side mirrors and windshield wiper de-icers), the Lineartronic CVT automatic transmission, dual-zone automatic temperature control, Bluetooth hands-free phone connectivity, a 440-watt harman/kardon stereo with six-disc CD/WMA/MP3 changer and XM Satellite Radio. Six cylinder models features the same equipment, but replace the CVT with a traditional five-speed automatic.

Optional Equipment

Most options are offered according to trim. Base models offer a few dealer installed items including Bluetooth phone connectivity, exterior puddle lights, cargo organizing systems and fog lights. The Premium models offer the Power Moonroof Package with rear vision camera and auto-dimming mirror, the All-Weather Package (heated seats, mirrors and wiper de-icers) and the 440-watt harman/kardon(r) audio system, while the Limited trims offer the Power Moonroof package and a voice-activated navigation system featuring music streaming (streams music to the car's stereo from a compatible Bluetooth enabled device), an eight-inch view screen and a rear backup camera. Other stand alone options include XM Satellite radio, an iPod integration Media Hub Kit that adds a USB connector, Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity (requires subscription), remote start (automatic transmission only), a trailer hitch and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror with built in compass.

Under the Hood

Subaru offers two horizontally-opposed boxer engines in the Outback. The new 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers 170 horsepower, which may not best in class but does generate enough muscle to provide satisfactory performance. Equipping this engine with the CVT automatic will produce the best fuel economy, but the six-speed manual is a better choice from a performance standpoint. If fuel economy is not a top priority, the best choice for the Legacy is the six-cylinder, which delivers much better acceleration and passing power than the four while delivering slightly worse fuel economy (18/25 vs. 22/29).

2.5-liter Boxer-4
170 horsepower @ 5600 rpm
170 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/27 (manual), 22/29 (automatic)

3.6-liter Boxer-6
256 horsepower @ 6000 rpm
247 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25

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2011 Subaru Outback Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.5
Out of 10

Based on 261 Ratings for the 2010 - 2014 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
    8.5/10

Best Car I've Owned

By on Monday, May 16, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 40,000

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
9/10
Styling
9/10
Comfort
10/10

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

"This Outback has been outstanding overall for performance and reliability. The 3.6L six cyl engine is very quiet and has excellent torque -- very quick in acceleration, both from standing start and for passing on highway. At steady highway speeds easily gets 28-30 mpg. The all-wheel drive makes it very stable and secure on wet roads. At 5 years the seats are still very comfortable and interior has remained in excellent condition and appearance. Very satisfied in almost every way."

2 people out of 9 found this review helpful

Poor dealer repair service. Quality not great!

By on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 64,000

10 3.0
overall rating 3 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
3/10
Value
3/10
Reliability
3/10
Quality
3/10
Performance
3/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
3/10

Pros: "Good interior space. Smooth ride"

Cons: "Too many problems"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"Have 2010 2.5i Outback since new. The ride is smooth but my gas mileage has lowered in the last 20K or so. I don't race and keep oil changed regularly. Quality of the car is only ok probably since it's US assembly. The hatch is very hard to close. The driver head rest is extremely uncomfortable. Thrusting head forward giving neck pain. Like other owner reports, car kept stalling around 30K. Dealer didn't know how to fix it, kept reprogramming the computer. Finally after 3 try, went to another dealer. They replaced the cam sensor. This should not have happen that early. I believe is defective part. At 60K, car hesitated on acceleration and throttle intake needed cleaning. I owned many other Japanese, none of those cars needing this done and all ran smoothly. Subaru is high maintenance. Dealer requires much more work than owner's manual stated. They also do not train their mechanic properly. Sloppy oil change, spill oil all over my engine block causing bad burnt smell. I will be replacing this car soon. Hopefully resell value is ok."

Superb vehicle

By on Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000

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: "Holds the road; high resale price."

Cons: "No focused rear reading lights; make it bigger!"

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

"The worst thing I could say about this vehicle is Subaru should have put in focused reading lights in back and shielded the front interior overhead lights from the driver. At 48000 miles the wheels are still in alignment despite bumps and curbs and the tires still have lots of tread. I have gotten up to 36 MPG on road trips, but drive it faster most of the time and the overall MPG has been 25, as Subaru claims. Nothing has needed replacing except one headlight bulb and one tail bulb. I had larger SUVs prior to the Outback (Yukon XL, Several Mitsubishi Montero Sports) and wish Subaru made one Yukon size. I remain a Montero Sport fan and recently rented one in Costa Rica. That would be my preferred vehicle, but Mitsubishi quit selling them in the USA years ago."

1 person out of 2 found this review helpful

My Subaru is amazing, I love it so much!

By on Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 87,000

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
9/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "FUN TO DRIVE. TONS OF SPACE"

Cons: "The color is terrible, and it needs a turbo."

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

"I love my Subaru Outback, it has tons of room in the back, the backseats lay down, which I love. I also really enjoy the transmission where I can manually change the gears, I feel like I am in a race car. This car has tons of power, and I know I can rely on it to take me anywhere. I will always be buying a Subaru from now on. You all need to make an outback with a turbo and I will be the first one to buy one!! HUGS AND KISSES----SKI... Love, that's what makes Subaru a Subaru."

7 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Love my 2014

By on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 27,000

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: "quality, size, towing"

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

"I bought my 2014 new and usually drive until they drive no more. 27000 miles and no trouble with anything. The mpg is a little less than expected, but I also drive faster than expected. Does great on wet and snowy gravel roads. It's a great size, holds my 2 large dogs and plenty of stuff when I travel and does great during my occasional towing."

4 people out of 5 found this review helpful

Some good features, some bad features.

By on Monday, March 21, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
8/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Fun to drive, good in rain and snow."

Cons: "Brakes worry me. Electronics frustrating."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 6

"In the good news department, this car is comfortable and easy to drive in rain and snow. IMO, the forward visibility is great and the heated leather front seats are good for over 400 miles before you go crazy. My passengers tell me the rear seats are comfy too. (they are not heated - I think they are in 2016 models). Others have criticized Subaru paint, but so far so good for me. The 6cyl is smooth and powerful, and I have gotten over 30mpg on long trips. Of course, if you like to drive fast like I do, mileage suffers. My overall mpg since purchase is +/- 25 mpg. In the not good news dept, the brakes are scary disappointing. If you don't learn to paddle downshift, you will probably rear end someone sooner or later. I wrote S.O.A about them only to get a terse reply that something must be wrong with my car. Huh? Having talked to other Subaru owners and several Subaru sales reps, it appears the brake issue extends beyond my vehicle. To put it bluntly, my T&C van stops better than my Outback. Others have written about the electronics in great detail. The most complete KBB review is called "not the car for me", written 3/29/12 by bhacken. Everyone should read it. It applies to my car perfectly. The phone system, as currently designed, is too frustrating to use for outgoing calls. When we are driving and need to make a call, my wife calls from her cell and then we use the car system once the person we are calling picks up. Incoming calls are no problem. I rent cars regularly and know from experience that there are better systems available. My sales rep tells me the 2016 cars are better, but that doesn't help me. The dash board and controls are not user friendly either. Other observations include. 1. The owners manual has to be one of the most poorly written ever. 2. As others have written, this car needs autolocks. I have a 2002 sedan with them; the technology is not new. 3. A compass should be standard, and not located on the mirror. SOA advertising centers around "adventure", and they make a compass an option in their adventure machine? I don't understand their rational. 4. The doors need better insulation. Someone else commented on cold doors, and I concur. When it gets closed to zero, you will notice the cold air pouring in around both the door handles and window buttons. Never had a car with that problem before. 5. The screen for radio info and backup camera is tiny compared with ones in cars I have rented. 6. Others have commented on how hard it is to seen the dashboard dials and the screen in direct sunlight. I agree. Overall, I do like driving this car, especially now that I am aware of its quirks. However, I wonder if I would buy another. The brakes as currently configured worry me, and the current phone and radio setup is maddening. If you are interested in this vehicle I encourage you to do the following before you buy or lease. 1. Go out on an Interstate and do a panic stop from 70mph and decide for yourself re the brakes. 2. See if you can figure out how to program the phone and make outgoing calls. (My score of 6 is due primarily to my wariness of the brakes and unhappiness with the phone)."

5 people out of 7 found this review helpful

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