2015 Subaru Outback

Starting MSRP: $24,895

Estimated MPG: 20 city / 27 hwy

2015 Subaru Outback Review

For 2015, the Subaru Outback gets a complete redesign with more interior space and better appointments.

By Aaron Turpen
Last Updated 05/03/2016

The 2015 Subaru Outback retains the wagon-style crossover’s signature capability, ground clearance and family friendliness. However, the 2015 Outback also gains more refinement and interior space. Many of the new interior appointments are shared with the 2015 Subaru Legacy. Other updates for the 2015 Outback include better driving dynamics and higher fuel efficiency.

The 2015 Outback is about an inch larger than its predecessor, but retains the well-loved boxer engine options and standard all-wheel drive. Capability in inclement weather and off the pavement is retained as well. Updates to the drivetrain improve fuel economy across the board, without changing the engines.

In short, nearly everything about the new Outback is improved.

Exterior

Exterior
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The new Outback is larger than it was before. It's still not quite a midsize crossover, but it isn't a compact model either. 

Exterior styling for the new Outback is similar to how it’s been for the past generation or two, with a station wagon’s appearance and crossover ground clearance and capability. The lines of the 2015 Outback have a more contemporary feel with a more grown up aesthetic than was previously seen, coming more in line with its intended adult market.

Interior

Interior
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The interior of the new Outback is much more upscale and ergonomic, with improved materials and space. The dashboard is similar to that in the Legacy, allowing the front seats to move forward providing more legroom in the rear. This added legroom is accompanied by a slightly wider interior to add more shoulder room as well. Headroom remains good at all seating positions and cargo space is better than most in this segment.

Hard plastics on the dashboard and door panels are gone and have been replaced with soft, sound-absorbing materials that make the cabin much quieter on the road.

Options include beautiful wood inlays, heated front and rear seats, a sunroof and more.

Performance

Performance
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The Outback retains its four- and six-cylinder engine options. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine outputs 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The EPA gives this engine a 28 mpg combined rating (25/33 mpg city/highway). This engine gives respectable performance on the road, and the Outback has strong steering dynamics thanks to all-wheel drive and the new electric-assist steering.

The optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine produces 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque. The EPA rates models with this engine at 22 mpg combined thanks to its CVT (20/27 city/hwy).

Strong confidence on the road is had with this engine and our test vehicle, an Outback 3.6R Limited, returned strong performance metrics and similar fuel economy numbers.

All-wheel drive is, of course, standard with the Outback, as is hill descent control and hill start assist. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and good all-season tires, the Outback is more capable than many crossovers its size.

Technology

Technology
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Technology in the Outback has improved from previous model years, but there are some features not present. Additionally, other tech features might require a steep learning curve to use.

The base 2015 Outback now includes a 6.2-inch touch screen with basic audio and entertainment functions. Upper trim levels and options add a 7-inch touch screen with more apps and options. Those higher options include smartphone app integration with music streaming applications such as Pandora.

However, voice and hands-free controls are limited, and even the upper trims tend to have a tinny Bluetooth sound when using hands-free communications.

Safety

Safety
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The 2015 Subaru Outback received five out of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for its overall performance in crash tests. Additionally, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Top Safety Pick+ award to the 2015 Outback for its strong performance in all IIHS tests.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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Most Subaru cars and crossovers have a strong value retention in resale and trade-in, and the Outback is often chief among them. Because most owners tend to drive them for a decade or longer, the used market often has more demand than supply.

The cost of purchase and ownership are also better than average, making any Subaru, including the Outback, one of the most cost-effective options on the market.

Overall

Overall
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The redesigned 2015 Subaru Outback is a strong value proposition with a powertrain reputed to be reliable and efficient. With more interior space and ergonomics, a higher level of comfort and more refinement inside and out, the 2015 Outback is a great choice for consumers in the market for a family-sized, capable crossover.