2017 Subaru Outback Review

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2017 Subaru Outback Overview

Subaru’s image is tied so closely to its Outback crossover that you could be forgiven for thinking the automaker doesn’t have anything else on dealer lots. That’s not quite true, since the company’s Forester generally outsells the Outback, but the latter has such a strong heritage that it's really the de facto flagship.

Subaru offers a fairly simple lineup of Outback trims. All come standard with the brand’s Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a continuously variable automatic transmission, meaning the only choices for buyers are between the trims themselves and two engine choices.

At its core, the Outback is really a wagon version of the Legacy sedan, placed on stilts. Thanks to the lift kit, the Outback sits as high as most crossovers and has more ground clearance—8.7 inches—than many SUVs. As a result, it is a capable off-roader, at least for getting to a hiking trail or campsite.

The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is rated at 170 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque, while the optional 3.6-liter 6-cylinder checks in at an ample 256 hp and 247 lb-ft. Fuel economy for the base engine is thrifty, at 24 mpg city/33 highway/28 combined, while the 6 takes a hefty drop to 20/27/22.

On the safety front, the Outback comes with eight airbags, including two that deploy from the seat base below the driver's and front passenger’s knees to help keep them in place in the event of an accident. One major option available on trims starting with the 2.5i Premium is Subaru’s EyeSight collision-avoidance system. In addition to providing the convenience of adaptive cruise control, EyeSight reads the road ahead and can bring the vehicle to a halt if it detects an impending collision.

Subaru has long been a safety leader, and the Outback is no exception. All trims have received top marks from both the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Base Outbacks include a 6.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, but Premium, Limited, and Touring trims up that to a 7.1-inch system with a host of built-in cloud-based apps. Subaru’s intuitive navigation, featuring tablet-style pinch and scroll capabilities, is an option on the Premium and Limited and comes standard on the Touring.

Although Subaru’s Starlink Safety and Security packages trail General Motors’ OnStar system, they do include automatic collision notification and an app that allows users to remotely lock or unlock a vehicle. Most of the services require an additional fee, but it's worth noting that Subaru charges substantially less for its services than do many competitors.

Outbacks with the 4-cylinder engine are available in four trim grades. The Premium trim builds on the base 2.5i, with conveniences like alloy wheels, a larger infotainment screen, heated seats, automatic climate control, and a few appearance upgrades. The Limited adds a Harman/Kardon audio system, upsized 18-inch alloy wheels, leather seating, and faux wood interior trim. A new Touring trim package further ups the ante with exclusive exterior trim bits, brown leather seats, and a heated steering wheel.

Buyers interested in the 6-cylinder are restricted to the Limited and Touring trim levels.

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