2013 Subaru Outback


#3 out of 9 in 2013 Wagons

$12,172 - $16,207

2013 Subaru Outback Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Subaru Outback was new.


Performance: 8.7

Reviewers rate the performance of the 2013 Subaru Outback near the top of the class. Though the base engine leaves them wanting a bit more power, most reviewers say it's fine for commuting. The best part of the Outback’s performance, according to most reviewers, is its car-like handling.

  • "Even if the 2013 Subaru Outback never spent a second in the Australian expanse that inspired its name, it's reassuring to know that knotty, rutted desert roads pose minimal challenge for Subaru's crossover wagon. With 8.7 inches of ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive, the Outback is a rugged adventure vehicle that can negotiate dirt roads and snowed-in streets with confidence, even if rugged off-roading is out of the question." -- Edmunds
  • "Few vehicles on the market can equal the Subaru Outback's ability to conquer tough terrain while simultaneously delivering carlike fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

2013 Subaru Outback 2.5i models have a 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. The standard transmission is a six-speed manual, but a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which drives like an automatic, is optional. The 3.6R models have a 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed automatic. Going for the 2.5i model with the CVT gets you the best fuel economy at an EPA-estimated 24/30 mpg city/highway. The 3.6R models get 18/25 mpg city/highway.

Though most reviewers concede that the 2.5i model makes the most sense for around-town driving and commuting, thanks to its adequate power and good fuel economy, they recommend the 3.6R model for drivers who frequently travel on the highway, through mountains or with a full load. Reviewers say that the 3.6R model has more power for passing, and that the CVT on the 2.5i model often struggles on hills.

  • "The 2.5-liter four-cylinder delivers both adequate performance and respectable fuel economy with either the six-speed manual or the excellent CVT automatic. It's a solid choice if you need to balance fuel economy with utility. Folks who regularly travel hills and grades, or frequently haul full loads of passengers, cargo or both would be better served by the six-cylinder." -- Edmunds
  • "If fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2013 Subaru Outback's 2.5-liter four with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is your best bet. The 173-horsepower engine has to work a bit, but once up to speed, the CVT finds and holds the engine's peak torque, providing a good balance of response and efficiency." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Outbacks with the 4-cylinder engine and the CVT have decent power in most situations, but they lack reserve muscle for passing and merging. The CVT can become confused in hilly driving conditions." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Of course, opting for the Six brings more power. But it also delivers a heavier, more substantial feel to the steering. By itself, the Six is amazingly smooth, and the heft to the steering isn't necessarily negative. But the gain in performance doesn't seem to be worth the trouble or expense, considering how brilliantly the Four works with the CVT." -- Popular Mechanics (2010)

Handling and Braking

The vast majority of reviewers give the 2013 Subaru Outback positive reviews for its handling and braking. Though it has as much cargo space as some midsize SUVs, reviewers say the Outback drives like a car, with little body roll, accurate steering and a smooth ride. Standard all-wheel drive gives the Outback some light off-road capability.

  • "On the road, the Outback demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, in part because the low center of gravity of its powertrain more than offsets its tall bodywork. Steering is precise and predictable, and only some slight wind noise around the roof racks intrudes on the quiet ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Subaru has consistently offered crossovers that provide car-like handling, with ample ground clearance and an ability to hold the road like no other crossover in the same price range. For the 2013 Subaru Outback, the maker has found a way to improve handling even more by stiffening the structure of the Outback as well as tweaking the steering and suspension to improve ride and decrease body roll." -- Car Gurus
  • "Of course, standard all-wheel drive and 8.7 inches of ground clearance are really what the Outback is about. Light off-roading is the idea here, and the Outback can traverse narrow, deeply rutted trails that would intimidate other crossovers. The 2013 Subaru Outback is not quite a trail-rated, rock-crawling Jeep, but carrying kayaks and mountain bikes off the beaten path is a cinch." -- Edmunds
  • "Outback is always controlled, never harsh, and more comfortable than many family sedans and nearly any similarly sized SUV. Larger bumps are felt, but Outback's compliant suspension and stout body structure work together so occupants aren't jostled." -- Consumer Guide (2012)

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