2017 Subaru Outback

Starting MSRP: $25,645 - $38,195

Estimated MPG: 25 city / 32 hwy

2017 Subaru Outback Review

Rugged, spacious and offering an impressive list of driver-assistance features, the 2017 Subaru Outback provides plenty of utility in a highly polished package. It offers an impressive driving experience too, with controlled handling and the assurance of standard all-wheel drive.

By Jim Sharifi
Last Updated 01/23/2017

The Subaru Outback is a five-seat wagon that comes standard with all-wheel drive. A four-cylinder engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) are standard, and a six-cylinder engine is available.

Subaru offers the Outback in 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 2.5i Touring, 3.6R Limited and 3.6R Touring trims. The 2.5i Touring and 3.6R Touring grades are both newly introduced for the 2017 model year. All Outback models now come standard with alloy wheels, while newly available driver-assistance features include reverse automatic braking and automatic high beams.

Exterior

Exterior
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With wagonlike dimensions and rugged styling cues, the 2017 Outback offers a handsome exterior design that’s just different enough to be unique, at least in comparison with the current crop of small crossovers. The front end is dominated by a large hexagonal grille and projector-beam headlights. Fog lights and HID projector headlights are available in higher trims, as well as steering-responsive fog lights that can provide even better illumination when cornering.

The Outback’s tall profile reveals 8.7 inches of ground clearance, making this all-wheel-drive wagon a willing companion in adverse conditions and on light trails. The base model comes standard with roof rails and 17-inch alloy wheels, as well as black sideview mirrors. Higher trims bring in body-colored sideview mirrors, door handles with chrome trim, 18-inch wheels and low-profile roof rails with a silver finish.

Interior

Interior
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The Subaru Outback has always been known for its functional design, and the 2017 model impresses with spacious seating for five that includes ample head- and legroom in both rows. Cargo space is also exceptional. There's 35.5 cubic feet of space behind the rear seat, and this expands to 73.3 cubic feet with the 60/40-split rear seat folded.

While the Outback’s high level of functionality may have trumped interior quality in the past, the latest generation has done a commendable job of providing an upscale cabin environment. Some competitors may use materials that look and feel more premium, but the Outback’s dash and door panels are covered with plastics that look and feel appropriate for the class. Standard silver metallic trim and available faux woodgrain accents provide additional visual interest in the Outback’s interior.

The base Outback comes with reclining rear seats, cloth upholstery and a tilt-and-telescopic steering column. Higher trims bring in features that include a heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats, power-adjustable front seats and dual-zone automatic climate control.

Performance

Performance
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As tested, our Outback 2.5i Touring impressed with a composed driving experience that should please buyers who want an all-wheel-drive wagon or a small crossover. It’s no sports car, but our test vehicle provided controlled handling, strong brakes and steering that was precise enough to keep driving fun.

The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine provides 175 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque, which was adequate in just about every situation we encountered during a week’s worth of driving. It’s well matched to the standard CVT too, lending the Outback a responsive feel in off-the-line acceleration. Highway passing power isn’t quite as strong, but there was still enough in reserve when we needed to speed up to merge or pass slower-moving traffic. Buyers who want more power may prefer an Outback 3.6R, which comes with a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that produces 256 horsepower and 247 pound-feet of torque.

The base Outback gets great fuel economy for the class, with an EPA-estimated 25/32 mpg city/highway. Models with the six-cylinder engine get 20/27 mpg.

Technology

Technology
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While it lacks smartphone mirroring technologies such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 2017 Outback provides hassle-free access to tech features through a standard Starlink infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen. That system offers quick response times and user-friendly on-screen menus. A four-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, a USB port and smartphone app integration are included with the base model.

Higher trims gain an additional USB port and an upgraded version of Starlink that comes with satellite radio, hands-free text messaging and a larger 7-inch display. Navigation and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system are also offered.

Safety

Safety
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the 2017 Subaru Outback a top five-star rating for its overall performance in crash tests.

In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Outback earned top scores of Good in all crashworthiness categories. Models equipped with EyeSight also earned a top Superior rating for front crash prevention, and certain trims received an Acceptable rating in IIHS headlight tests. As a result, the 2017 Outback earned an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

Every Outback comes with a rearview camera, while Subaru’s available EyeSight system brings in driver-assistance features that include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist and forward collision warning with automatic braking. Automatic high beams, reverse automatic braking and blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert are also offered.

With the exception of the base model, Subaru supplies Starlink Safety and Security connected services as standard equipment. This telematics system includes automatic collision notification, an SOS button for emergency assistance, roadside assistance and a stolen vehicle locator.

Cost-Effectiveness

Cost-Effectiveness
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The 2017 Outback 2.5i starts at $25,645, excluding an $875 destination charge. Pricing for the top 3.6R Touring model begins at $38,195. Our test Outback 2.5i Touring carried a suggested price of $35,995 before destination, as well as all the creature comforts you’d get with the top 3.6R Touring model (minus the more powerful six-cylinder engine).

We think the Outback 2.5i Premium is likely the best buy in the lineup. With a starting price of $27,695, the 2.5i Premium brings in a number of additional features, including the upgraded Starlink system with a 7-inch display, heated front seats, fog lights, dual-zone automatic climate control and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Premium trim also allows you to add desirable options like blind spot monitoring and Subaru’s EyeSight system. Checking these boxes on the options list will bring the suggested price to roughly $30,600.

Overall

Overall
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An Outback purchase is undoubtedly a slight deviation from the norm if you’ve been considering a compact SUV, and we mean that in the best possible way. Its exterior is more wagonlike than what you’ll find with most of the competition, but that trait pays dividends with carlike driving dynamics and great fuel economy that many competing crossovers can’t match. At the same time, impressive cargo space and standard all-wheel drive provide plenty of assurance when it comes to the Outback’s capability.

We think the Outback deserves serious consideration alongside the segment’s most popular entries, including the 2017 Honda CR-V, Ford Escape and Toyota RAV4. Its great safety ratings and competitive feature set should also appeal to practical buyers who want a higher level of content with their next vehicle.