2015 Subaru Outback


#1 out of 8 in 2015 Wagons

$16,345 - $19,983

2015 Subaru Outback Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2015 Subaru Outback was new.


Performance: 8.3

Automotive experts say the redesigned 2015 Subaru Outback remains composed while cornering and has excellent traction on wet or muddy terrain. However, the base engine can struggle up hills when the Outback is fully loaded.

  • "In fact, there's little the 2015 Subaru Outback doesn't handle with ease. If anything, it's so capable and refined as to be a bit boring." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "How's it drive? Like an Outback, only quieter -- well sorted and appropriately tuned for its job; in other words, it does just about anything anyone might demand of an automobile except maybe logging track time." -- AutoWeek
  • "The 2015 Subaru Outback SUV is designed for two opposing tasks. One is to be comfortable and quiet on the road, while the other is to be capable and dependable off it. Yet Subaru has managed to admirably combine these two competing interests." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The best of both worlds, the 2015 Subaru Outback combines the comfort and driving dynamics of a sedan with the space and off-road capabilities of an SUV." -- Left Lane News

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Subaru Outback comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 175 horsepower. The 3.6R Limited model has a 256-horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. All 2015 Outback models come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). According to the EPA, the base 2015 Subaru Outback gets 25/33 mpg city/highway, which is good for a wagon. The 3.6R Limited model gets 20/27 mpg, which is normal for a six-cylinder wagon with all-wheel drive.

Test drivers say the redesigned four-cylinder Outback has acceptable power for merging onto the highway, but strains to conquer steep hills when it’s full of passengers. Though auto writers agree that the six-cylinder engine improves the Outback’s acceleration, many still aren’t impressed with the power it provides. Several reviewers note that the Outback’s continuously variable transmission behaves like a conventional automatic, which helps reduce humming engine noise.

  • The base 2.5 isn't buzzy and delivers adequate thrust for typical driving on relatively flat roads. It's close to underpowered on inclines and at altitude at the edge of Oregon's Cascade range -- and if we accept Subaru's pitch, such locales are exactly where many Outback owners drive their vehicles." -- AutoWeek
  • No one will call the 2.5i Premium ‘quick,’ and Subaru's claimed 0-60-mph time of 9.3 seconds confirms that feeling. It has just enough power for safe highway merging, but load the thing up with people and gear and it's going to feel overwhelmed, especially if elevation gets thrown into the equation." -- Edmunds
  • The smooth-revving flat-six is certainly quicker than the four, but it doesn’t feel impressively so." -- Car and Driver
  • "CVTs can still be hit or miss these days, but Subaru's is one of the better rubber bands 'boxes on the market. Part of that is down to pre-programmed ‘shift’ points, which cut down on annoying engine drone." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Unlike most wagons, the 2015 Subaru Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive. Other standard features include Subaru’s X-Mode traction control system, which reduces wheel spin, and Active Torque Vectoring, which applies brake pressure to one of the front wheels to improve cornering ability. The majority of reviewers write that the redesigned Subaru Outback handles with poise, and some add that its Active Torque Vectoring system and accurate, communicative steering help it take sharp corners quickly. Though most don’t expect Outback buyers to tackle off-road trails, automotive journalists report that its X-Mode traction control system makes it very capable on muddy or rocky terrain. Many test drivers feel that the Subaru Outback has a comfortable ride, although a few disagree, noting that the ride can be stiff on rough pavement.

  • "This version has a stiffer body and revised suspension tuning that has made it a competent handling wagon once again. The new electric-assist power steering is precise, has a quicker ratio and gives excellent driver feedback through corners. The plentiful suspension travel endows the Outback with a plush ride, and we found the tires to be quiet even over coarse surfaces." -- Edmunds
  • Handling is better than before, and the interior is remarkably quiet even at highway speeds. Most of the time, the combination of a stiffer suspension and off-road-friendly tires works, but the Achilles heel of this car is an old, patched-up and uneven stretch of blacktop. Lots of medium- to large-road imperfections upset the Outback's ride to the point where we suddenly see the wisdom of driving a soft-riding SUV such as the Toyota Highlander." -- AutoTrader
  • "Outback provides a comfortable ride, but the wagon can be hustled through the twisties thanks to its torque-vectoring system, which really does help the car around tight corners. It's no STI, but the Outback is proof that wagons are more fun to drive than SUVs." -- Left Lane News
  • "Subaru's X-Mode system, first seen on the Forester, helped us trudge through some really nasty bits of trail - terrain we wouldn't have thought an Outback can handle. This Subaru was downright impressive as we traversed steep hills, deep ruts, sizable rocks and muddy streams, and its aforementioned 8.7 inches of ground clearance - identical to a Jeep Grand Cherokee in its default setting - was a real confidence builder." -- Autoblog

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