2017 Subaru Outback Overview
Pros & Cons
- Roomy interior and back seat
- Best-in-class cargo capacity
- Good capability on slippery roads
- Underpowered base engine
Notable for 2017
- New Touring trim level
- Standard alloy wheels
- Subaru EyeSight adds reverse automatic braking and automatic high beams
Subaru Outback Rankings and Research
The 2017 Subaru Outback ranking is based on its score within the Wagons category. Currently the Subaru Outback has a score of 8.4 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 33 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.
- #2 in Wagons
2017 Subaru Outback Pictures
2017 Subaru Outback Review
The 2017 Subaru Outback has class-leading cargo capacity, excellent passenger space, and a well-built, durable cabin that makes it a good fit for families on the go.
Is the Subaru Outback a Good Car?
The 2017 Subaru Outback is a good car that ranks near the top of our list of best wagons. It has all the space you would expect from a practical vehicle. It has a roomy back seat and the most cargo capacity in its class. Equipped with standard all-wheel drive, the Outback makes a good companion whether you’re taking a camping trip, shuttling kids around, or anything in between.
The Outback’s intuitive standard features, like an easy-to-use infotainment system and a rearview camera, make it an attractive choice. You can also opt for all the latest advanced safety technologies so you can feel confident and protected every time you go for a drive.
The Subaru Outback is the 2017 Best Wagon for Families award winner because it has the best combination of space, available family-friendly features and positive reviews from professional automotive writers in its class. The Outback has won this award for six years running.
Should I Buy the Subaru Outback?
If you want a vehicle that has plenty of passenger and cargo room, along with a more rugged demeanor than most cars, the Subaru Outback is worth a look. It also has a reasonable price for the class. The Outback comes with plenty of standard features, and has a cavernous cabin. However, if you're not going to be spending much time driving on slippery roads or taking part in outdoor pursuits, you may be better off with a rival like the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. The VW has a lower price, features a nicer cabin, and drives more like a sporty sedan. The Outback blurs the line between a traditional station wagon like the Golf SportWagen and a compact SUV like the Honda CR-V or Subaru's own Forester. It has more ground clearance than a car or traditional wagon, but its overall height is a bit lower than many compact SUVs.
We Did the Research for You: 30 Pieces of Data Analyzed
Our team has analyzed 30 different pieces of research to pull together this Subaru Outback review, so you don't have to do the work of finding it all yourself. We combined the consensus opinion of automotive journalists along with hard data, including crash test ratings, predicted reliability scores, and fuel economy estimates, to give you a thorough overview of the Outback's strengths and weaknesses.
Why You Can Trust Us
Here at U.S. News Best Cars, we want to make sure you're well-informed when shopping for a new car so you find the right model for you. Our team has been ranking cars for almost a decade, and between us we have a combined 75 years of experience working in the industry. All of our reviews are impartial, and we receive no gifts or trips paid for by automakers. A third party handles our advertising, so our editorial staff is insulated from outside interests.
How Much Does the Subaru Outback Cost?
Pricing for the 2017 Outback ranges from $25,645 for the base trim up to $38,195 for a fully loaded model. On the low end of the range, the Outback is in line with many other wagons made by mainstream brands. On the upper end, it competes with luxury models from Audi and Volvo. Its price is also higher than the starting prices of compact SUVs like the Subaru Forester and Honda CR-V.
Subaru Outback Versus the Competition
Which Is Better: Subaru Outback or Volkswagen Golf SportWagen?
The Subaru Outback and Volkswagen Golf SportWagen both rank highly in our wagon class, and for good reason. Both vehicles have spacious seats, generous cargo room, and comfortable rides. Choosing between them really comes down to what you want from a wagon. If you're looking for an affordable wagon with carlike handling and an upscale cabin to drive around town, the Golf SportWagen is probably the better fit for you. The Outback is better suited to drivers who will spend more time in the country and driving on rough roads, since it has standard all-wheel drive, nearly 9 inches of ground clearance, and a more rugged build quality. Drivers who like the Golf SportWagen's styling but the Outback's rough-and-ready nature might find the Golf Alltrack matches their needs. It is largely the same as the regular golf SportWagen, but with a slightly raised suspension to help it better traverse dirt and rocky roads.
The Outback can perform light towing duty, unlike the Golf SportWagen. With the Outback, your fuel economy will be almost as good as it would be with the Golf SportWagen, even though the Outback has standard all-wheel drive versus the Golf SportWagen's front-wheel drive. When equipped with all-wheel drive, the Golf SportWagen actually gets worse fuel economy than the Outback.
Which Is Better: Subaru Outback or Honda CR-V?
Though the Honda CR-V isn't a wagon like the Outback, it's a great alternative for most buyers. The CR-V is easily one of the most spacious compact SUVs available, and it has more cargo room than the Outback, whether the second-row seats are up or down. Additionally, the rear seat is very roomy and the back doors open wide, so the CR-V is a great vehicle for drivers who often travel with adult passengers in the back. The CR-V's base trim is a bit cheaper than the Outback's, but you'll want to buy the CR-V EX. It's only around $1,000 more than the base Outback, but it has many more features, including heated front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a power moonroof. You even get a full complement of active driver assistance features. To get the same safety systems in the Outback, you'd have to spend several thousand dollars more.
Which Is Better: Subaru Outback or Subaru Forester?
Deciding between the Outback, which is a wagon, and the Subaru Forester, a compact SUV, can be a touch choice because they are related in many ways. They share many of the same features, as well as the same base engine and ground clearance. The main differences are price and size. The Outback's starting price is around $3,000 more than the Forester's, but you'll get a longer, wider vehicle for the extra money. That helps the Outback have more room for adults in the rear – though because the Forester is taller, both vehicles have about the same amount of cargo room. If the base four-cylinder engine in these models isn't powerful enough for you, they each have an optional engine. The Forester has a turbocharged four-cylinder, while the Outback has a six-cylinder. The turbo-four powering the Forester gets 23 mpg in the city and the Outback's six-cylinder earns 20 mpg in the city. Both vehicles get 27 mpg on the highway with their upgraded engines.
How Many People Does the Outback Seat?
The 2017 Outback seats five. Passenger room is abundant, especially in the back seat, where there’s plenty of leg- and headroom. The second-row seats can even recline for more comfort on long drives.
The base model has cloth upholstery and manual front seats. Drivers who spring for the $27,695 Premium trim will get a power-adjustable driver's seat and heated front seats, while the Limited trim ($32,390) adds leather upholstery and heated rear seats.
Outback and Car Seats
There are two full sets of LATCH connectors for installing child safety seats in the Outback's outboard rear seats. There's also an extra upper tether on the middle seat that you can use along with one lower anchor from each outer seat.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Outback's LATCH system a Marginal rating, the second lowest score possible. On the outboard seats, you may find that the lower anchors are too deep in the cushions and that it’s hard to maneuver around them. The upper tethers are not distinguishable, so it’s possible to confuse them with other hardware. Thanks to the spacious second row, however, there's still room for someone slim to sit in back even with two child seats in place.
Outback Interior Quality
Soft-touch materials line the Outback's cabin, and the design is simple but pleasing. It's not as nice as the cabin you'll find in the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen, though it's not as no-nonsense or rugged as you might expect from a Subaru. The Forester sports a similar cabin design. By contrast, the Honda CR-V, which is fully redesigned for 2017, features a modern look and high-quality materials throughout.
Outback Cargo Space
Even if you pile all your friends or family into the Outback, you’ll still have lots of room for everyone’s cargo. With the second row of seats in use, the Outback has 35.5 cubic feet of space. With the seats folded down, it boasts 73.3 cubic feet. Both of those numbers are among the highest in the class. You'll have no problem fitting in your outdoor adventure gear, a bag of soccer balls for your child's team, or even bulky pieces of furniture. The Outback's cargo figures are also on the high end of the spaces offered by many compact SUVs, such as the Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester. If you prefer to hide some of your cargo out of sight, the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen has a handy under-floor compartment that's perfectly suited to the job.
Outback Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation
The 2017 Outback features a standard infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch-screen display and smartphone integration. Overall, the system is user-friendly and can be operated with familiar smartphone gestures like pinching and swiping. An available upgraded system has a 7-inch display, and you can opt for navigation as well, which is helpful if you plan to venture into the great outdoors. Other physical controls on the center stack are well-placed and easy to manipulate, so you'll be able to focus on the road ahead.
Even though the Outback's infotainment system is easy to use, it lacks some of the latest tech features available in some rivals. You can't get smartphone integration with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay in the Outback. Both systems come standard in the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and are optional in the Honda CR-V.
Outback Engine: Powerful but Costly Six-Cylinder Engine Option
The 2017 Outback comes standard with a four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. For everyday driving situations like running errands or merging and cruising on the highway, this engine should get the job done. However, if you pack the Outback full of passengers or cargo, the little engine isn’t quite up to the task. It can feel underpowered, and acceleration is strenuous. Still, you won't find a more powerful engine in any other wagons under $30,000, though your options open up when you venture to the compact SUV class. The Outback's available six-cylinder engine puts out over 250 horsepower, but at a significant cost. That engine is tied to higher trim lines that start at about $35,000, almost $10,000 more than the base Outback.
Outback Gas Mileage: Drive Further Before the Gauge Says Empty
What the four-cylinder engine lacks in potency it makes up for in fuel economy. You can expect about 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway with the four-cylinder engine. These are decent numbers for the class. The Outback, which comes standard with all-wheel drive, beats most competitors that are equipped with all-wheel drive, like the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (22 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway). The Honda CR-V edges the Outback slightly, with a minimum rating of 25/31 mpg city/highway when equipped with all-wheel drive.
If you choose an Outback with the six-cylinder engine, you’ll see some of the lowest fuel economy estimates in the class: 20/27 mpg city/highway. The Toyota Prius V leads the pack among wagons with 43 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway.
Outback Ride and Handling: SUV-Like Capabilities
Whether you're staying on the pavement or heading down a muddy drive on the way to an outdoor pursuit, the Outback will get you there. With standard all-wheel drive and almost 9 inches of ground clearance, the Outback is a confident companion in adverse driving conditions and on imposing terrain. You won’t have to think twice about going in search of a new trailhead or secluded camping site.
Those who prefer to stick to solid roads will probably be impressed with the Outback’s performance as well. It provides a quiet and smooth ride, and it absorbs routine bumps or holes in the pavement with ease. There’s a slightly sporty edge to the Outback too; you’ll likely find it has precise steering and is composed through turns. If you want a truly sporty wagon, however, you'll be better off with the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen.
Outback Off-Road Performance
All-wheel drive comes standard in the Subaru Outback, so you'll have no trouble on slippery roads. It'll even help if you're driving off the pavement. That doesn't mean the Outback is a true off-roader, however. The Outback's all-wheel-drive system is no match for the heftier four-wheel-drive systems in true off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler.
Read more about the differences between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
Outback Towing Capacity
The Outback can tow up to 2,700 pounds. That's more than enough to pull a small pop-up camper on your next trip into the wilderness.
Is the Subaru Outback Reliable?
J.D. Power and Associates rates the Outback at three out of five for predicted reliability, which is about average. Most models in this class score similarly to the Outback. The Audi Allroad rates a bit higher, while the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen and Subaru Forester score slightly lower.
Subaru Outback Warranty
Subaru covers the 2017 Outback with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Most wagons' warranties have similar terms.
Outback Crash Test Results
The 2017 Outback earns a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a Top Safety Pick+ designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Outback and the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen score highly in safety compared to the rest of the class. If you're considering the Subaru Forester as an alternative to the Outback, note that the Forester earns similar scores but only receives four out of five stars in NHTSA front crash tests, while the Outback earns five stars.
Outback Safety Features
A rearview camera comes standard in the Outback, and a package of other advanced safety technology is available. The Subaru EyeSight bundle, which costs between $1,595 and $1,995 depending upon trim, includes adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist, plus blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. New for 2017 is the addition of reverse automatic braking and automatic high beams.
Which Subaru Outback Model Is Right for Me?
There are four trims in the Outback's lineup. Buyers, however, should be satisfied with the base Outback 2.5i. It has a low price and is well-equipped for the class, featuring an infotainment system, a rearview camera, HD Radio, and satellite radio. Move up to the 2.5i Premium trim if you want Subaru's EyeSight safety suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, and other advanced driver assistance systems. Drivers who want a six-cylinder engine will have to opt for one of the top trims and shell out about $35,000 or more.
For the 2017 model year, Subaru adds the new top-of-the-line Touring model, along with new features in the Subaru EyeSight safety package – reverse automatic braking and automatic high beams. Alloy wheels are also standard in all trims for 2017.
The base Outback 2.5i starts at $25,645, which is relatively cheap for the class. Standard features include cloth seating, a four-speaker sound system, a rearview camera, HD Radio, a USB port, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and an infotainment system with a 6.2-inch touch screen and smartphone integration. There are no option packages for this trim.
The Outback Premium trim begins at $27,695 and is only available with the four-cylinder engine. Upgraded features of this trim include a 10-way power driver's seat, heated front seats, two USB ports, a six-speaker audio system, a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment display, and dual-zone climate control. For $1,695, you can purchase a package that includes a power rear liftgate and a moonroof. A $1,995 package with the Subaru EyeSight safety technology suite includes adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, high beam assist, and a power rear liftgate. For $3,590, you’ll get the moonroof, power rear liftgate, and all the safety features, as well as a navigation system.
The Outback Limited trim starts at $32,390 with the four-cylinder engine and $34,995 with the six-cylinder engine (3.6R Limited). Standard features at this level include leather seating, heated rear seats, keyless entry, push-button start, a power rear liftgate, a Harman Kardon speaker system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and a rearview camera. The only option package for this trim includes the EyeSight suite, which adds adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist, as well as reverse automatic braking, high beam assist, a navigation system, and HID (high intensity discharge) headlights. It retails for $1,995 for the four-cylinder model. The package with the six-cylinder model only costs $1,595, since the 3.6R Limited already includes HID headlights as standard.
The Outback Touring trim comes fully loaded with all previous standard and optional features, and it offers no additional packages. A four-cylinder Touring model starts at $35,995, while a six-cylinder model (3.6R Touring) starts at $38,195.
Who Makes the Subaru Outback?
The Outback is made by Subaru, a Japanese company, in Lafayette, Indiana.
The Final Call
The Subaru Outback combines the comfortable cabin and composed handling of a car with the country-road readiness of an SUV. It will be a great wagon to take you to your next camp site, thanks to its standard all-wheel drive and generous cargo room. Still, if you spend most of your time around town, you might be better off with the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. The Honda CR-V is another option worth a look since it has more features and an even larger cargo area than the Outback.
Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.
- "Whether you're actually looking for a wagon or open to an SUV alternative, we think the 2017 Subaru Outback should meet your needs nicely. It offers an abundance of rugged versatility as well as a level of comfort and refinement perfect for long drives to far-flung outdoor adventures." -- Edmunds
- "Essentially a wagon version of the Legacy midsize sedan with additional ground clearance and SUV-flavored styling cues, the Subaru Outback offers a roomy cabin, a sure-footed all-wheel-drive system and excellent fuel economy relative to its size." -- Left Lane News
- "The Subaru Outback may be the best wagon/SUV combo you can buy. The Outback's cultlike status has expanded to the mainstream, thanks in part to a thorough makeover last year that resulted in less esoteric styling and a vast improvement in technology, comfort and fuel economy. The Outback's interior approaches luxury-car quality, while overall handling is the best it's ever been." -- Autotrader (2016)
Research Prices: 2017 Subaru Outback
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