2017 Subaru Outback Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
June 22, 2017

The 2017 Subaru Outback is a worthy competitor to many SUVs on capability alone—factor in price and it should be a no-brainer.

Forget Paul Hogan and saccharine commercials about love. Given the finite and dwindling capacity of our medial temporal lobes as we age, what's worth remembering on the 2017 Subaru Outback is as simple as "8.7" and we can go back to whistling candy bar jingles from our childhood.

Subaru's Outback has 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which is the same as many rugged SUVs that trade on their tall exteriors and self-affirming badges with "Trail Rated" written on them. The Outback hasn't fundamentally changed since it was new in the 1990s and while others have had to ditch ladder frames and thirsty V-8s to stay relevant, the Outback has remained firmly car-based and wagon-esque.

The 8.0 overall score for the Outback reflects our opinion of the wagon's versatility and safety, with room to improve on interior style and features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Review continues below

What's left for shoppers now is an enduring over-achiever. Although it's a mid-size vehicle, seating and cargo areas are copious, and its all-wheel drive system—complemented by an "X-Mode" off-road program—is hugely capable. And it's a wagon in a world obsessed with crossovers. What's not to love about that?

In other respects, we yearn for shorter memories. Subaru's insistence on horizontally opposed engine design has left the wagon (at times) on the back foot for fuel mileage, and the Outback's budget-first mission can leave the interior short compared to others.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

The world is flat

Subaru's celebrating the 50th anniversary of its horizontally opposed engine this year and the 2017 Subaru Outback sports the company's oldest examples on sale today.

The 2.5-liter flat-4 base engine produces 175 horsepower in the Outback. It's perfectly adequate for daily use, and is the most frugal. EPA estimates peg highway mileage above 30 mpg and a combined average in the high-20s.

The 3.6-liter flat-6 is the more expensive, optional engine in higher trims—including 2017's newest Touring line—and it makes 256 hp. It's a smoother customer and isn't out of breath making mountain passes, but its fuel economy is in the low-20s combined, and that isn't what we'd expect considering its weight and two rows of seating.

Both engines are mated to a supremely good continuously variable transmission (CVT) that we'll say is one of the best in the business—if not tops.

We'd like the flat-4 to be a little more potent and the flat-6 to be a little less thirsty. The Goldilocks principle means our answer should be somewhere in the middle, but for most buyers we'd say the 2.5-liter is just fine—just keep it on the boil with the available paddle shifters if you need to pass.

Safe and sound(less)

The Subaru Outback is one of the safest cars on the road today and the data is there to back that claim. The IIHS named it a Top Safety Pick+ and the feds give the Outback top five-star scores.

Subaru's optional EyeSight safety system bundles together adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning for an affordable price. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts are available too. For 2017, Subaru has added rear automatic braking to avoid hitting objects behind the car.

The Outback is considerably more refined than previous generations and its noisy interior has been quieted to a gentle growl. It can rightfully compete with other, much more expensive wagons on comfort and quality—something older Outbacks just couldn't do.

Yet, top-of-the-line trims like the Touring  and even Limited models  are still fancied up versions of a base wagon built for the trail and it shows. There are some large swaths of black dashboard, hard materials, and plasticky buttons, but the most you can pay for an Outback is still thousands less than the starting price of some competitors.

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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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September 3, 2017
For 2017 Subaru Outback

My second outback

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Super fuel efficient, goes anywhere, safe, nice features on the limited edition. Can't beat the reliability.
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July 13, 2017
For 2017 Subaru Outback

Best vehicle I've ever owned.

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Great gas mileage, lots of room. More options than cars twice the price.
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June 2, 2017
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

2017 Subaru outback limited. Need some answers, Thank you.

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I own a NEW 2017 Subaru outback Limited with 8,800 mile on it. My first problem with the car was I had trouble starting it, the second problem was it was ryff Idling you could feel the shaking n the seats. I... + More »
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February 27, 2017
2017 Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring

It's a homerun AND a touchdown!

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Great value for the dollar. Beautiful, quality interior. The only "extra" optional need is the hitch.
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January 30, 2017
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

A vehicle that is all things to a family...

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The styling and proportions are spot on. The interior feels very comfortable and luxurious. Visibility is the best for this class of vehicle. You can't go wrong if you're looking for a long distance family... + More »
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December 21, 2016
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited

We are enjoying our new Outback, would recommend it to others.

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Happy with car so far. Mileage isn't so good but like the safety features and the car in general.
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November 25, 2016
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium

Great car for our needs and traveling with a dog

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Bought it for the additional safety options (EyeSight,cameras,etc) and all wheel drive Transmission,acceleration, and quiet interior noise is much better than our old 2012 model Believe it was the best SUV... + More »
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October 23, 2016
2017 Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring

Very quite inside. Excellent visibility and strong acceleration for normal driving.

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So far we love the Outback. Very nicely finished inside and acceleration is much better than expected. Great ride, excellent visibility and Eyesight is wonderful feature.
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$25,645
MSRP based on 2.5i
 
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8.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7.0
Performance 7.0
Comfort & Quality 9.0
Safety 9.0
Features 9.0
Fuel Economy 7.0
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2017 Subaru Outback Pricing Insights

  • 2017 Outback widely available; 2018s coming soon
  • No cashback offers; shop dealers for best pricing
  • Lease a 2017 from $229 for 36 months
  • Get 0% APR for up to 63 months on 2017s
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