2023 Subaru Outback

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2022
The Car Connection
2022
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
July 18, 2022

Buying tip

The Outback Premium satisfies everyday needs, but the Wilderness handles the great outdoors better.

features & specs

CVT
Limited CVT
Limited XT CVT
MPG
26 city / 32 hwy
MPG
26 city / 32 hwy
MPG
22 city / 29 hwy
MSRP
$28,395
MSRP
$35,295
MSRP
$39,695

The 2023 Subaru Outback sports a fresh look but delivers the same capability and reputation for safety.

What kind of car is the 2023 Subaru Outback? What does it compare to?

The 2023 Subaru Outback overlaps several automotive segments. It’s sized like a mid-size crossover yet rides as high as larger SUVs. The utility wagon with the off-road chops competes against everything from the Toyota 4Runner to the Volvo V60. 

Is the 2023 Subaru Outback a good car?

Review continues below

With standard all-wheel drive and assuring safety technology, the flexible Outback makes tracks around town and country. It earns a TCC Rating of 6.7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What’s new for the 2023 Subaru Outback?

Refreshed with new ends and upgraded safety and convenience features, the 2023 Subaru Outback leans into its reputation. Even more black cladding over the wheel arches creeps up the fenders, and up front the cladding forms raccoon eyes over circular fog lights. Inside, all but the base Outback showcase a large but well integrated 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone compatibility, and a no-nonsense interior. 

The powertrains carry over, with a base 182-hp flat-4 that does just fine, even as it cedes ground to a 260-hp turbo-4 offered on more models this year. The CVT replicates an 8-speed automatic but goes longer on a gallon of gas and is unobtrusive. With standard all-wheel drive and good ground clearance, the Outback continues where the pavement ends down access roads and across fields. The Wilderness model climbs even higher ground. 

Subaru compensates for its limited lineup with an array of nine trims on its signature model. Any XT (available on Onyx, Limited, Touring) or Wilderness models use the 2.4-liter turbo-4, while other grades employ a 2.5-liter flat-4 with no turbocharger (Base, Premium, Onyx, Limited, Touring). To simplify it even more, Subaru equips the base Outbacks with a wealth of standard safety and convenience features. 

The Outback carries at least 32.5 cubic feet of cargo behind its reclining rear seats, and four large adults can fill out the cabin. A fifth passenger seat makes for a better arm rest.  The interior can be fitted with rubber floor mats, pet fences, and pet crates. 

Stellar crash-test ratings are complemented by standard automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise control. Blind-spot monitors are nearly universal, and Subaru’s wide-angle camera on its driver-assist package captures an even greater range of potential obstacles. 

How much does the 2023 Subaru Outback cost?

The $29,620 Outback (including a $1,195 destination fee) has standard all-wheel drive, 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, and twin 7.0-inch touchscreens that prompt us to step up to the Premium for about $32,000. It has an 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone compatibility and a power driver’s seat. If you want the turbo-4, the Onyx XT is the best value if you can deny the call from the Wilderness. 

Where is the 2023 Subaru Outback made?

In Lafayette, Indiana.

6

2023 Subaru Outback

Styling

Styled like an SUV but shaped like a wagon, the Outback inspired a generation.

Is the Subaru Outback a good-looking SUV?

Subaru popularized black plastic cladding on bumpers and fenders as a way to protect paint and parts from off-road surprises, and so many crossover SUVs pretend to do the same. The refreshed Outback leans into even more cladding, that now stretches across the Subaru lineup, even on the redesigned WRX rally car. It earns a point, simply for the copycat effect. The interior remains an exercise in function over form. It’s a 6. 

The restyled Outback looks less like the hiking boot on wheels of its predecessor and more like the Solterra electric crossover. The wheel arch cladding flares over the fenders, and the lower cladding up front bumps up over new circular fog lights before curling up and under the LED headlights like a handlebar mustache. Air intakes lurk in there somewhere, and the bigger grille and narrower headlight complete the modern makeover. 

The cabin integrates a vertical touchscreen into the center stack, enabling Subaru to retain the same uncluttered outward vision of other models and iterations. Vents flank it like ears, and the tiered dash rises outward like wings. The hooded instrument cluster keeps the package clean and free from distraction. 

Onyx grades black out 18-inch aluminum wheels and other trim elements, and line the seats with water-repellent synthetic leather. Wilderness grades do the same inside, but add gold trim elements inside and outside, including on the raised roof rails. Black side mirrors, and hexagonal fog lights also distinguish the roof rails.

Review continues below

6

2023 Subaru Outback

Performance

Potential outdoes performance in the off-road capable Outback.

The Outback handles and rides well, but Subaru tempts shoppers with a larger turbo-4 on XT models that trims the 0-60 mph time by a third. It’s compelling but not necessary to wring the Outback’s true charms. The base models earn a 6 for performance, but the turbo-4’s enthusiasm would earn another point if rated separately.

Is the Subaru Outback 4WD?

True to the Subaru reputation, the Outback comes only with all-wheel drive. They all have hill-descent control and variations of its brake-based X-Mode drive system that reduces individual wheelspin on slick surfaces. XT models have two additional settings for Snow/Dirt and Deep Snow/Mud, while Wilderness grades apply those lower-speed high-torque settings across a broader range. The Wilderness also increases ground clearance from 8.7 inches to 9.5 inches. All of these factors—and especially the Wilderness and its Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires—make the Outback more off-roadable than other mid-size crossover SUVs. 

How fast is the Subaru Outback?

The Outback won’t win many sprints off the line, but when the pavement ends the Outback keeps going. The base 2.5-liter flat-4 it shared with the Forester puts out 182 hp and 176 lb-ft of torque to crawl to 60 mph in about nine seconds. Subaru equips the Outback with one of the better CVTs on the market that simulates an 8-speed automatic with smooth and predictable “shifts” that keep the engine from complaining too loudly up the rev band. 

The tweener Outback also gets a bigger engine shared with the bigger Ascent SUV. Standard on XT and Wilderness trims, the 2.4-liter turbo-4 makes 260 hp and 277 lb-ft and goes from 0-60 mph in about six seconds. Sometimes you want to get lost quicker. It also increases the towing capacity from 2,700 to 3,500 lb.

The Outback’s front link and multilink rear suspension is tuned for comfy on-road cruising and calm off-road meandering. Despite the higher ground clearance of competitors, it handles more like a wagon than a bigger SUV, and lacks the body lean endemic to taller riding vehicles. 

Minor complaints can be lodged against the braking’s nonlinear feel that’s soft on initial press and grabbier as your foot goes down. Despite a chunky steering wheel that feels good in the hand, there isn’t much communication with how those front wheels are interacting with the road, but that’s common for the class.

Review continues below

8

2023 Subaru Outback

Comfort & Quality

The Outback’s double-duty extends to plenty of space for people, pets, and gear.

The Outback comes with five seats and stretches nearly a foot longer than the Forester compact crossover, yet it has only slightly more passenger room. It makes up for it in the large and flexible cargo hold for another point here, and the well-padded front seats also earn a point. It’s an 8. 

The cloth-trimmed buckets in base models have plenty of support but require manual adjustments. Every other trim has at least a 10-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support that’s argument enough over the base grade. With a tall roof and expansive front windshield, the Outback’s seat position instills commanding and comforting views of the road. 

Subaru covers the cabin and dash with soft materials that can be trimmed in water-repellant synthetic leather or nappa leather that can feel out of place with its rugged character. Slim console pockets and narrow door pockets trail rivals such as the Honda Passport in optimizing small storage areas. 

In back, the Outback’s wide doors and relatively low load floor make it easy for people and dogs to jump in and out of. Ample rear leg room of 39.5 inches suggests three adults would fit in back, but save the third spot for the dogs and their narrower hips and shoulders. The 60/40-split seats recline, however, for more comfort. 

Even though it’s closer in size to the three-row Subaru Ascent, the Outback’s 108.1-inch wheelbase and passenger volume is more aligned with the smaller Forester. The Outback makes up for it with 32.5 cubic feet of cargo space that expands to 75.7 cubic feet when the rear seats are folded flat. 

The Outback has tie-down points and a roof rack to expand its utility for adventurous owners. The Wilderness model’s roof rack can hold a static load of up to 700 lb, for interested roof campers.

Review continues below

9

2023 Subaru Outback

Safety

The Outback stays in Subaru’s safety lane.

How safe is the Subaru Outback?

Safety is a defining trait on all Subarus, including the Outback. It earned a five-star NHTSA crash-test rating, and a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. Those accolades earn it a point each, as does its excellent standard safety features and bevy of options. The only point it misses on our scale is for thick rear roof pillars that limit rearward vision, but that can be helped with a surround-view camera system or available blind-spot monitors. 

In addition to standard all-wheel drive, the 2023 Outback features automatic high beams, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Subaru says its Eyesight camera system has wider angles and improved software recognition to detect more crash risks.

Review continues below

8

2023 Subaru Outback

Features

Options abound on the Outback, but the best value occurs near the beginning.

The base engine strikes a value, while the large touchscreen and good standard features all earn a point on our scale to an 8. 

Base Outbacks cost under $30,000, including a $1,195 destination fee, and come with cloth upholstery, LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, a satellite radio trial, and twin 7.0-inch touchscreens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with improved voice commands for audio and climate inputs, according to Subaru. 

Which Subaru Outback should I buy?

For $31,920 the Premium upgrades to a single 11.6-inch touchscreen with wireless smartphone functionality and an improved interface on the vertical display. Premium warms up the interior with dual-zone climate control, USB-A and -C ports front and rear, a 10-way power driver seat, and power side mirrors. Options include keyless entry, a sunroof, a power tailgate, and blind-spot monitors.

If you’re keen on the blacked-out look of the Onyx, it can be had with either engine this year. The base engine spares you $5,000.  

The $39,820 Onyx XT with its 18-inch black wheels, blacked-out body trim, and durable vinyl interior costs $150 more than the Wilderness, which has more off-road capability. Decisions and intentions. 

How much is a fully loaded Subaru Outback?

The $43,520 Outback Touring XT wears nappa leather upholstery and comes with Harman Kardon sound, a 180-degree front-end camera, cooled front seats, and other goodies.

Review continues below

3

2023 Subaru Outback

Fuel Economy

With standard AWD, the 2023 Outback achieves average fuel economy.

Is the Subaru Outback good on gas?

It’s average for its powertrain, with an EPA rating of 26 mpg city, 32 highway, 28 combined. It’s a 3. 

With standard AWD and a CVT, Subaru makes its flat-4 as efficient as possible without any electrified options. The punchier turbo-4 in higher trims drops fuel economy to 22/29/25 mpg, and the higher-riding Wilderness edition with its off-road tires lowers it to 21/26/23 mpg.

Review continues below
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The Car Connection Consumer Review

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$28,395
MSRP based on CVT
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6.7
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 8
Safety 9
Features 8
Fuel Economy 3
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2023 Subaru Outback Pricing Insights

  • 2022 Outback supplies steady; 2023s coming soon
  • Lease: From $315/mo
  • Rebates: None; shop dealers for best pricing
  • Financing: From 2.9% APR
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