2017 Subaru Outback


#1 out of 8 in 2017 Wagons

$22,458 - $31,123

2017 Subaru Outback Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Subaru Outback was new.


Performance: 7.8

According to reviewers, the 2017 Subaru Outback is capable on rough terrain or smooth roads, with good handling and all-wheel drive. The base engine can feel underpowered when hauling lots of people or cargo, but the available six-cylinder engine provides plenty of muscle.

  • "The Outback is essentially a tall-riding car and that's exactly what it feels like to drive. There's a level of refinement and comfort present that is better than what you'll get from a lot of small crossover SUVs." -- Edmunds
  • "Even when the roads turned nasty, we were impressed by our 2016 Subaru Outback crossover SUV's quiet cabin, its car-like driving characteristics (it is based on the Legacy sedan, after all) and its stable composure even in the most inhospitable driving conditions." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "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. The 2015 Outback isn't fun, exactly, but it's never onerous or tedious, either, even with the CVT. It's always pleasant and can be satisfying in a purpose-driven way. It's generally more refined than before." -- AutoWeek (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 Outback comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 175 horsepower. An optional 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine produces 256 horsepower. All-wheel drive and an automatic transmission are standard in all Outback models. The four-cylinder engine gets 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which is decent for the class. Upgrading to the larger six-cylinder engine will reduce fuel economy to 20 mpg in the city and 27 on the highway – poor numbers compared to competitors’.

The base four-cylinder engine is adequate for regular driving and delivers decent fuel economy. They note, however, that you may want to spring for the six-cylinder engine if you do any towing or frequently travel with a full load of cargo or passengers.

  • The standard, four-cylinder Outback 2.5i has enough power for safe highway merging, but load it up with people and gear and it feels overwhelmed, especially if you're driving at high elevation. Around town, the jumpy responsiveness of the gas pedal and the spongy brake pedal also make the 2.5i harder to drive smoothly than it should be. The six-cylinder provides more punch, and if you frequently load up the car or live in a mountainous area, you're going to want this larger engine.” -- Edmunds
  • "The Outback's entry-level engine is a 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder that produces 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque. While that's middling power for the segment, the mill does return 25 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway - those are impressive figures that best what some smaller, front-wheel-drive crossovers can eke out." -- Left Lane News
  • "The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is no powerhouse, but it isn't a slouch either and the fuel economy is outstanding. The 6-cylinder provides a more robust driving experience and is recommended for anyone who needs to tow, but it is available only on the top-line Limited trim, which doesn't come cheap." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Handling and Braking

The Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive, and critics report that makes this wagon more capable than even some SUVs. When going off-road, they notice the Outback doesn’t handle large impacts very well, but performance on pavement is good. Ride quality is comfortable and quiet, and the Outback features precise steering and good handling characteristics.

  • "And with so much ground clearance (8.7 inches) as well as standard all-wheel drive and hill-descent control, the Outback can go places most small SUVs will struggle to venture." -- Edmunds
  • "The retuned dampers on the Limited's suspension are an improvement over last year's model, but the current Outback still fails to soak up hard impacts when off-roading, an attribute we greatly admired in the previous-generation car. Paved road performance feels better in the base and Premium models than with the Limited, but overall, the ride comfort has improved enough to upgrade our opinion of the Limited's suspension." -- AutoTrader (2016)
  • "Precise steering and revised suspension tuning make the 2016 Subaru Outback a competent handling wagon. The generous suspension travel endows the Outback with a plush ride, and road noise is quelled even over coarse pavement." -- Edmunds (2016)

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