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GREEN | 7 out of 10
22 mpg city, 29 highway with four-cylinder and CVT; 19/27 with manual; 18/25 for six-cylinder
The light weight and relatively small four-cylinder engine of the base 2012 Subaru Outback give it very good fuel economy among mid-size crossovers, even though its Green Rating isn't at the top of our scale. The EPA rates the four-cylinder with six-speed manual at 19 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, while the model equipped with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) returns a remarkable 22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, for a combined rating of 24 mpg. And Outback drivers seem to do better than that, nearing the 27 mpg average we logged in highway driving with several mountain passes wrapped in. Steady drivers in flat territory might achieve as much as 30 mpg on the highway.
The more powerful 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine doesn't do as well, with EPA ratings of 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and a combined gas-mileage number of just 20 mpg. And on a separate green note, it's worth noting that Subaru offers a Partial Zero-Emission Vehicle (PZEV) equipment package for a few hundred dollars on cars sold in those states where it's not required equipment.
The 2012 Subaru Outback with the four-cylinder engine and CVT is rated at a remarkable 29 mpg on the highway, and real-world users may see as much as 27 mpg combined.