Test Drive Notes Library
- This vehicle has long been the official vehicle of Vermont. It’s practical, reasonably sized, reasonably priced, reliable, and secure in handling. And for eons, it has offered all-wheel drive to get Vermonters through those little winters they have—from September to June.
- The Outback has evolved in recent iterations to appeal to more then just the thrifty-frozen-people of New England. It’s a lot more refined than it used to be, while maintaining its practicality.
- If you need cargo room, and all-wheel drive, and don’t want to drive an SUV, this is a great choice. It’s got everything a mid-size SUV has, except the poorer gas mileage, and heavy towing capacity.
- There’s plenty of room inside. The Outback is officially big, now. It’s as long as a Volvo Cross Country, and has more cargo area than a Honda CR-V.
- Mileage is improved, thanks to a new CVT transmission, which operates with little of the rubber-band whine you sometimes get with CVTs. We got about 23 MPG overall. EPA claims 28 combined.
- The new Outback is quieter, overall, with added sound insulation.
- It has newly available safety features, a package dubbed “Eye Sight,” by Subaru, which includes pre-collision braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane departure warning.
- Rear leg room has been improved.
- Very comfortable ride.
- Good solid handling, with a lower center of gravity than SUVs.
- Good visibility. And a standard back up camera that comes on immediately.
- Excellent cargo room in back.
- Controls are pretty straightforward, with knobs for tuning and volume, and a set of controls on the steering wheel, too.
- One nice feature: when you’re stuck in traffic and the car in front of you starts to move, the Outback will alert you with an audible tone. It’s a nice feature if you’re bored in traffic, texting with your mistress.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Cornering, while good compared to SUVs, is not a good as a sedan’s. We noticed some body lean on hard turns. If you the sporty version of this car, you’ll need an Audi Allroad. And another 20 grand.
- We found the Outback to be a bit noisy on acceleration, especially compared with other cars in its class. Ours had a bit of a rattling sound that seems to be typical of Subaru engines. You won’t find it as sewing-machine smooth as a Honda.
- Price-wise, it’s roughly comparable to the Honda CR-V. While the Outback has its advantages, and has proven durable, Subaru reliability has not been quite as good as Honda’s. So don’t expect it to go 200,000 miles, without a major repair.
Get the Car Talk Newsletter