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2021 Subaru Outback

#2 in Wagons

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$26,795 - 39,945 MSRP

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Pros & Cons

  • Roomy seats
  • Plenty of cargo space
  • High-quality cabin materials
  • Lots of standard safety tech
  • Solid off-road prowess
  • Base engine isn’t as powerful as those of some rivals
  • Less user-friendly infotainment system than competitors'

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Subaru Outback's #2 ranking is based on its score within the Wagons category. Currently the Subaru Outback has a score of 8.0 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 15 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

8.0

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 7.1
Interior: 8.2
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 9.8 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Thinking of leasing a Subaru Outback?

The U.S. News Best Price Program saves users an average of $3,206 off the MSRP, and a lower price equals lower monthly lease payments. That means you could see a savings of $90 a month on a 36-month lease.

 Is the Subaru Outback a Good Wagon?

 Yes, the Subaru Outback is a good wagon. There's plenty of cargo space and room for adults to stretch out in both rows. It comes standard with numerous active safety features, and this Subaru is one of the few vehicles in the class with standard all-wheel drive. However, the base engine's power output is just OK, and the infotainment system can be a bit tricky to use.

Why You Can Trust Us: 15 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 15 Subaru Outback reviews, as well as performance specs, interior dimensions, fuel economy ratings, and more, to give you all the information you need to make a smart car-buying decision.

This 2021 Outback review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2020.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our staff has more than 75 years of combined experience in the auto industry. To ensure our objectivity, we never accept expensive gifts from carmakers, and an outside firm manages the ads on our site.

Should I Buy the Subaru Outback?

If you're looking for a vehicle that's capable of off-road adventures yet still comfortable for driving around town, the Outback is a good choice. This Subaru is also one of the more affordable wagons you can buy. Still, there are other worthwhile contenders. Both the Subaru Forester and Toyota RAV4 have similar attributes to the Outback but carry lower starting prices.

Find a 2021 Subaru Outback for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Subaru Outback: What's the Difference?

For 2021, Subaru adds a rear-seat reminder and steering-responsive LED headlights to the Outback's standard features list. Otherwise, the 2020 and 2021 models are nearly identical.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Outback »

Here are the key changes for the Subaru Outback over the last few years:

  • 2017: added available reverse automatic braking; Touring trim debuted
  • 2018: interior and exterior styling updated; gained standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
  • 2019: EyeSight active safety features added to standard features list
  • 2020: fully redesigned with improved driving dynamics, more cargo and passenger space, a new optional 260-horsepower turbocharged engine, and an available 11.6-inch touch screen
  • 2021: gains some new standard safety features

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Outback, 2019 Outback, and 2020 Outback reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Subaru Outback Cost?

Starting at $26,795, the Outback has one of the lowest starting prices in the wagon class. In fact, the top-of-the-line Touring XT, which starts at $39,945, is more affordable than the base trims of wagons like the Audi A4 Allroad and Volvo V90.

However, the Outback mainly competes with compact SUVs, and it has a higher starting price than most of those vehicles. For example, the Subaru Forester starts at $24,795, and the Toyota RAV4 starts at $26,050.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

Subaru Outback Versus the Competition

The Outback is a wagon, but many of its direct rivals are within the compact SUV class.

Subaru Outback vs. Subaru Forester

The Subaru Forester and Subaru Outback are corporate siblings with many similarities. Both vehicles offer spacious seating, large cargo holds, and a comfortable ride both on and off road. Additionally, each comes standard with the EyeSight suite of advanced safety features and all-wheel drive. Both come with the same base 182-horsepower engine, but the Outback is available with a 260-horsepower turbocharged option, while the Forester is not. Also, the Outback has a larger available touch screen (11.6 inches versus the Forester's 8). Both vehicles are a great pick, so you'll have to decide if you're willing to spend more for the Outback's options.

Compare the Outback and Forester »

Subaru Outback vs. Toyota RAV4

The Toyota RAV4 is another compact SUV with similar attributes as the Outback. Both vehicles offer a wealth of standard safety and technology features, plenty of passenger and cargo space, comfortable rides, and good off-road ability. However, the Toyota has a slightly more affordable starting price and more horsepower in its standard engine. On the other hand, the Subaru has slightly nicer cabin materials. For a tad better performance, go with the RAV4. If you're looking for a more upscale vehicle, you'll likely prefer the Outback.

Compare the Outback and RAV4 »

Compare the Outback, Forester, and RAV4 »

Outback Interior: Good on Space and Comfort

Outback Cargo Space

With 32.5 cubic feet of space behind the second-row seats and 75.7 cubic feet with the back row folded flat, you'll have plenty of room for cargo in the Outback. Underfloor storage is also plentiful. A hands-free liftgate is available in the Premium trim and standard in every higher-level trim.

How Many People Does the Outback Seat?

Up to five people can fit inside the Outback with ample space for everyone. In addition to plenty of head- and legroom, the Outback boasts supportive, comfortable seats. There’s also good outward visibility due to the Outback's slim roof pillars.

Outback and Child Car Seats

There are two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats. The Outback also has a tether anchor and a single lower anchor for the rear middle seat, and the middle seat can borrow a lower anchor from the passenger-side rear seat. This LATCH system is among the easiest to use.

Outback Interior Quality

The Outback has an attractive cabin featuring high-quality materials. Stepping up to the Limited or higher-level trims ups the ante with things like leather upholstery and heated rear seats.

Outback Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Outback comes standard with a Starlink infotainment system that includes two 7-inch touch screens; an 11.6-inch touch screen is standard in everything but the base trim. For the most part, this system is easy to operate and features physical knobs to easily control audio and temperature functions. However, some menu options take several clicks to get to via the touch screen, and the base stereo has poor sound quality.

  • Standard infotainment features: two 7-inch touch screens, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports
  • Available infotainment features: an 11.6-inch touch screen, two rear USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, HD Radio, navigation, wireless device charging, a Rockford Fosgate stereo, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo
  • Other available features: dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and a moonroof

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Outback Performance: A Balanced Ride and a Potent Turbo

Outback Engine

The base 182-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has enough power for most driving situations, but it can feel underwhelming on the freeway. The Outback's available 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter engine has fairly punchy power and helps provide quicker acceleration. Both engines come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which pairs more favorably with the turbo-four.

Outback Gas Mileage

The Outback gets an EPA-estimated 26 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with the base engine, which is good for a wagon. With the upgraded turbocharged engine, mpg estimates drop by 3 in both city and highway driving.

Outback Ride and Handling

This Subaru offers a relaxed ride, and its responsive steering helps it deliver a marginally athletic performance. The Outback’s standard all-wheel drive helps it keep a tight grip on the road.

Outback Off-Road Performance

This wagon isn't as capable off road as the Jeep Wrangler, but it performs admirably on trails. It has 8.7 inches of ground clearance and comes standard with hill descent control and X-Mode off-road driving, which optimizes the vehicle for driving in mud, snow, and ice. Opting for the top-of-the-line Onyx Edition XT trim will get you dual-mode X-Mode off-road driving with a deep snow and mud setting.

Outback Towing Capacity

Outback models with the standard engine can tow up to 2,700 pounds when properly equipped. Models with the upgraded engine have a maximum towing capacity of 3,500 pounds.

Read more about performance »

Outback Reliability

Is the Subaru Outback Reliable?

The 2021 Outback has a predicted reliability rating of three out of five, which is about average.

Subaru Outback Warranty

The Outback comes with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Outback Safety

Outback Crash Test Results

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2021 Outback. However, the NHTSA gave the similar 2020 Outback an overall safety rating of five out of five stars, and the IIHS gave the 2020 model the highest rating of Good in all six crash safety tests.

Outback Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Rear-seat reminder
  • Seat belt warning for rear-seat passengers
  • Steering-responsive automatic LED high-beam headlights
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Forward collision warning
  • Forward automatic emergency braking
  • Lane departure warning
  • Lane keep assist

Available advanced safety features:

  • LED fog lights
  • Blind spot monitoring
  • Lane change assist
  • Rear cross traffic alert
  • Reverse automatic emergency braking
  • Driver distraction monitoring
  • Front-view camera

Read more about safety »

Outback Dimensions and Weight

The Outback is about 15.9 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,635 to 3,937 pounds.

Where Is the 2021 Subaru Outback Built?

Subaru builds the 2021 Outback in Indiana.

Which Subaru Outback Model Is Right for Me?

The 2021 Subaru Outback is available in seven trims: base, Premium, Limited, Touring, Onyx Edition XT, Limited XT, and Touring XT. The first four trims come standard with a 182-horsepower four-cylinder engine, while the XT trims come with a stronger 260-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. All models feature a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive.

The base trim is a suitable choice for most shoppers and offers a long list of standard safety and infotainment technology.

Subaru Outback

The base trim (MSRP: $26,795) comes standard with cloth upholstery, manually adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, and the X-Mode off-road driving setting. It also comes with a Starlink infotainment system that features two 7-inch touch screens, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a four-speaker stereo, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and two USB ports. Active safety features include a rearview camera, a rear-seat reminder, a seat belt warning for rear-seat passengers, steering-responsive automatic LED high-beam headlights, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist.

Available features include a Rockford Fosgate stereo ($643) and an auto-dimming rearview mirror ($365).

Subaru Outback Premium

Starting at $29,045, the Premium trim adds heated front seats, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, LED fog lights, two rear USB ports, a six-speaker stereo, an 11.6-inch touch screen, and HD Radio.

You can add blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, proximity keyless entry, and a hands-free power liftgate for $1,400. For $2,995 you can get everything mentioned above plus a moonroof and navigation. Wireless device charging is available for $259.

Subaru Outback Limited

The Limited trim starts at $33,595. It gains leather upholstery, heated rear seats, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, a hands-free power liftgate, proximity keyless entry, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium stereo, blind spot monitoring, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, and reverse automatic emergency braking.

A heated steering wheel, a moonroof, navigation, and driver distraction monitoring are available for $2,045.

Subaru Outback Touring

The Touring trim (MSRP: $37,495) adds Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a moonroof, navigation, and driver distraction monitoring.

Subaru Outback XT Models

There are three XT models that build off the Limited trim. The Onyx Edition XT starts at $35,145 and adds a front-view camera, upgraded X-Mode off-road settings, unique interior and exterior design elements, and water-repellant synthetic leather upholstery. The Limited XT starts at $37,995 and adds a moonroof, a heated steering wheel, navigation, and driver distraction monitoring. The Touring XT has a starting MSRP of $39,945 and comes with practically all of the Outback's standard and available features.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Subaru dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Subaru deals page.

See 2021 Subaru Outback specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Subaru Outback is a good wagon. It offers plenty of passenger and cargo space, a refined cabin, a wealth of standard features, and composed handling both on and off the pavement. Among the Outback's few cons is an infotainment system that might take some time to master.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "Throw in its abundance of safety and infotainment tech, standard all-wheel drive, solid reliability ratings and improved interior quality with last year's redesign, and you have a vehicle that's easy to recommend." -- Autoblog
  • "For the money, the Outback represents a tremendous value, an outstanding driving experience and a useful utility vehicle loaded with safety tech." -- Cars.com (2020)
  • "Uniquely attractive, comfortable and loaded with advanced safety features, the Outback raises the stakes for competitors ranging from the Honda CR-V and Chevy Equinox to the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano." -- The Detroit Free Press (2020)  
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2021 Subaru Outback

MSRP: $26,795 - $39,945

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