2019 Subaru Outback

Performance


#3 out of 6 in Wagons

$26,345 MSRP
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2019 Subaru Outback Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.7

The all-wheel-drive 2019 Subaru Outback is goat-like in slippery situations and makes an excellent choice if you prefer extra traction to athletic handling. This wagon's base engine is decent when it comes to power and fuel economy, but don't expect to wow anyone with its acceleration. Fortunately, there's a more powerful engine available for those who enjoy livelier takeoffs.

  • "The Outback is easy to drive because of its cushy suspension, manageable size, and CVT automatic that doesn't wind the revs out too much. You can also put the gearbox into manual mode to fix your gear for specific off-road or sporty needs. At low speeds, some may find the gas pedal too responsive." -- Edmunds
  • "The volume-oriented 175-hp 2.5-liter flat-four could be a little quicker. … Regardless of the engine under the hood, the Outback drives more like a wagon than a crossover, featuring a comfortable ride." -- Motor Trend (2018)
  • "Regardless of model, the Subaru Outback can handle just about anything. Sure, there's the quiet cabin, car-like driving characteristics thanks to sharing its underpinnings with the Legacy sedan, and a comfortable around-town and highway ride. But when the roads turn nasty, the Outback keeps going." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The base engine powering all Outback trims is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. It’s a modest 175-horsepower engine that's smooth around town and peppy enough for overtaking slower traffic on the highway. Drivers who enjoy extra zest will likely prefer the available 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. It gets up to speed with more oomph, but it reduces gas mileage. Both engines come with a continuously variable automatic transmission.

Fuel economy with the base engine is typical for a wagon, at 25 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. With the larger engine, this drops to 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway.

  • "The Outback's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder provides adequate power for passing and merging, and the CVT automatic does a good job getting power to where it's needed, either by itself or with input from the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Those seeking more rapid acceleration should look to the 3.6R model with its 6-cylinder engine." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The standard engine isn't spritely, but it's capable enough that we think it's the engine to get." -- Edmunds
  • "There isn't much help for the lack of power from the four-cylinder, but Subaru does offer a 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine. At 256 horsepower, that engine will give more satisfying acceleration, and makes a good option for people who want to take advantage of the Outback's 2,700 pound tow rating. However, the six cylinders means a 5 mpg decrease in fuel economy." -- CNET (2017)

Handling and Braking

The Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive, X-Mode (a system that reduces wheel spin for better grip), and hill descent control. It handles much like a car, though its 8.7 inches of ground clearance means it has some body roll, similar to a small SUV. The Outback has excellent traction in slippery situations but doesn't feel very athletic on the highway.

  • "Because it shares the same basic architecture as the Legacy sedan, the Outback enjoys a very stable, car-like ride. The Outback's added ride height should result in lots of sway and bounce, but its boxer engine sits low in the engine bay, which in turn helps reduce the car's center of gravity." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The standard all-wheel drive adds confidence to light off-roading, and it's a well-tuned system. The Outback is more rugged than most crossovers or other wagons. Ground clearance is better than most." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "The Outback handles easily with light but not flabby steering. For a vehicle with a whiff of SUV about it, the ride is surprisingly compliant." -- Consumer Guide (2017)
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