The 2014 Subaru Outback provides one of the most spacious rear compartments of any mid-size crossover, and the front matches the competition as well. Both headroom and legroom in both rows is adequate even for tall adults, and the reclining rear seat adds flexibility as well. There's no third-row option, but the tradeoff is a large 34-cubic-foot cargo bay that turns cavernous (expanding to 71 cubic feet) when the 60/40 split rear seatback is folded down.
The Outback will comfortably hold five adults, and even with the front seats pushed back on their tracks, there's enough legroom for six-footers in the rear seat. It's easy to get in and out, too, through tall and wide rear doors that open wide. The legroom comes from a longer wheelbase than previous Outback models (though overall length stayed the same) and a taller roofline, boosting headroom. The front seats are well shaped and offer good support on long trips, though the tallest drivers may find the bottom seat cushion a little shorter than they'd like.
Inside the car, plenty of trays, bins, and cubbies provide storage space for all the mobile phones, sunglasses, papers, soda cans, and loose change that accompany any road trip these days. Almost every Subaru seems to be fitted with the optional sturdy rubber all-weather floor mats for muddy hiking boots and wet gear--and Subaru prices them reasonably as a result. The company has also put a lot of thought into roof storage. The rail system has crossbars that pivot back and lie flat along the rails when not in use, to reduce aerodynamic drag, and there's an enormous variety of third-party accessories--ski holders, kayak mounts, storage boxes, bike racks, and more.
Last year, Subaru improved the standard seat fabric, ditching the previous brocade-curtain fabric and making the seats more comfortable. There's also an optional "light matte wood grain" trim to give the interior a bit more sophistication on high-end models. Still, the interior is practical, durable, and utilitarian rather than glamorous and high-design--which Subaru owners value. High-contact points like the center console and the lower door panels have hard plastic surfaces that can scuff, but assembly quality is first-rate, with no rattles or squeaks. If it matters, every Subaru Outback sold in the U.S. is assembled in Indiana.
The Outback still suffers from Subaru's Achilles Heel--wind noise around the large, usable door mirrors--but engine noise is sufficiently muted under most circumstances. Overall, the refinement is acceptable if not the most hushed and soothing vehicle on the market. You'll know when the engine is at full power, and the Outback is hardly as quiet as a church or meditation center, but you won't find it tiring to travel in.