The 2019 Subaru Outback may appear to be a rugged SUV, but it's officially classified as a wagon. Because of that, it competes most directly with the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack – another wagon with an SUV-like appearance. It also competes with the more upscale Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60 and Volvo V90.
The Audi Allroad and both Volvo models are sold at much higher price points than the Outback, while the VW models are smaller than the Subaru.
In reality, the Subaru Outback competes better with midsize SUVs such as the Ford Edge, Honda Passport and Nissan Murano. But it has more ground clearance than most other midsize crossover SUVs, and Subaru's standard all-wheel-drive system gives it more off-road credentials than many car-based vehicles.
New features added to the 2019 Subaru Outback include Subaru's Eyesight safety suite, which is now standard on all trims of the Outback, additional, USB ports, and an upgraded driver information display.
The Outback is one of the most versatile vehicles available today. It blurs the lines between a conventional station wagon and a crossover SUV by combining versatility with traditional station wagon styling.
Subaru is known for its safety, reliability, and propensity for building vehicles which cater to the adventurous at heart. The Outback, Subaru's most popular model in the U.S., has long been popular among those who value these attributes and provides its buyers with a no-nonsense approach to what a genuinely utilitarian vehicle is.
The Subaru Outback looks like the perfect marriage between a station wagon and an SUV.
Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance give the Outback a commanding, high stance. Even on the highest trim levels, the Outback only receives 18-inch wheels, modest by today's standards. That gives the Outback a more robust look that most other crossover SUVs lack.
Along with being on par with many other midsize SUVs for its height, its overall station wagon length makes it look much longer than many of its SUV counterparts. It gives the Outback a commanding presence on the road and makes it look larger than it is.
Standard roof rails and black trim surrounding the bottom of the vehicle give the Outback a sense of ruggedness. Its overall styling is more refined than the smaller Subaru Crosstrek crossover, yet more robust than its sedan counterpart, the Legacy.
There are no oversized grilles, sharp edges, or coupe-like rooflines to speak of on the Outback, giving it a traditional appearance when compared to many vehicles today.
Interior Quality and Comfort
The Outback offers good interior quality and comfort to its buyers.
Though it can't touch an Audi or Volvo wagon for luxury, the Outback is not far behind, especially considering its affordable price point.
Reviewers note a lack of hard-touch plastic materials and a sense of robust build quality throughout the vehicle. Testers noted ample padding where arms and hands usually touch. Trim materials are also noted to be nicely textured and not overly fake in appearance.
Seats are noted to be comfortable and supportive. Legroom, headroom, and interior space all impress reviewers.
Testers also note that controls are straightforward without looking or feeling cheap. Ergonomics are excellent, furthering the overall comfort of the cabin. The only real flaw noted by reviewers of the Outback was more than desired wind and road noise.
Utility & Practicality
Utility and practicality are both strong suits for the Outback. Subaru's all-wheel-drive system is standard on all trims and gives even the base model an edge over most of its competitors, which usually come standard with front-wheel-drive.
Cargo capacity with the rear seats up is rated at 35.5 cubic feet, which is suitable among wagons, but only adequate when compared to SUV competitors. With the rear seats folded down, the cargo area expands to 73.3 cubic feet. A third-row seat is not available.
Reviewers agree that both liftover height for the cargo area and step in height to get into the Outback are comfortable for most people.
The Outback's towing capability is rated at up to 2,700 pounds, but again, lags behind SUV rivals that are typically able to pull at least 3,500 pounds.
The Outback is not considered a supremely off-road capable vehicle, but it is capable of maneuvering through much harsher terrain than many of its rivals. A sophisticated all-wheel-drive system helps it with available selectable modes and allowance for thicker tires compared to many other modern vehicles this size.
A host of outdoorsy features and add-ons to fit the standard roof rack system provide even more utility for those willing to pay for the extras.
Technology & Infotainment
Central to the host of technology and infotainment features available on the Outback is Subaru's Starlink Infotainment system. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the base model, and higher trim levels are upgraded to an 8-inch version.
Reviewers note that voice commands work better and are more comprehensive in their ability to control multiple vehicle functions than many other systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard features on all Outback models. Bluetooth is also standard on all trims with satellite radio and navigation being optional extras on most.
A 4-speaker audio system is standard on the base trim, with a 6-speaker audio system is added with higher trim levels and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is included in the highest Outback trims.
Notable technology features include a power liftgate, dual-zone climate control, a windshield wiper de-icer, a 10-way power driver seat, power passenger seats, heated rear seats, and keyless ignition system.
For added off-road traction, Subaru includes a hill descent control system and hill hold assist system on all Outback models.
Safety & Driving Assistance
Subaru models consistently rank at or near the top of their respective classes for safety, and the Outback is no exception, based on scores from the Insurance Insititute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration.
Their EyeSight Driver Assist suite is standard for all Outback trims and includes forward collision warning, automatic pre-collision braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control.
Subaru's X-Mode driving system is designed to eliminate wheel slippage in adverse road conditions and is also standard on all trim levels.
Blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and parking sensors are additional available safety features on mid and top trim models.
A LATCH child safety seat system is standard on second-row seats.
The Outback is also a safe vehicle apart from all of its crash mitigation systems, earning a Top Safety Pick for its excellent crash-test ratings. It earned five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in all but the rollover resistance category, in which it earned four stars.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety gave the Outback good ratings across the board, with a score of "superior" in the frontal crash prevention rating.
Reviewers almost unanimously agree that the Outback provides an exceedingly pleasant driving experience, leaving sharp handling and speed for other, more purpose-built vehicles.
The Subaru Outback is available with the choice of two engine options, both of which are paired with a continuously variable automatic transmission.
All 2.5i versions are equipped with a 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder engine. It produces 175 horsepower and 174 lb-ft. of torque. The 3.6R versions get a 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated 6-cylinder. It produces 256 horsepower and 247 lb-ft. of torque.
Though reviewers are keener on the added horsepower of the six-cylinder engine, most agree that the four-cylinder is adequate for the everyday driving most Outback owners will tackle. For those who value towing, all reviewers suggest the larger engine as the four-cylinder struggles for power.
Ride comfort is noted to be top notch, in part because of the available suspension travel allowed by the Outback's added ground clearance. As a noted disadvantage, its extra ride height allows unwanted body roll and sloppy corner handling.
Many reviewers don't find the brakes inspiring, especially during emergency stops. During normal driving, they are said to be average, and the stopping distance numbers indicate the same for the class.
One of the most prominent cons of the Outback's driving experience is noted to be its touchy accelerator pedal.
Testers note that the CVT transmission is among the best available and works well under normal driving conditions. Acceleration is among the slowest in the class for both engines, though the six-cylinder provides some added quickness to the four-cylinder's approximately 10-second 0-60 mph time.
Fuel economy, however, is quite good for a vehicle of the Outback's weight and with its full-time all-wheel drive system. It easily beats out other all-wheel-drive station wagons for the top spot in the class.
The 2.5-liter engine returns an EPA estimated 25 miles per gallon in city driving, while it returns up to 32 mpg on the highway. Upgrading to the 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine lowers the estimates significantly, to 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
For comparison, the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack only receives EPA estimates of 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway from its 170-horsepower, four-cylinder engine.
Pricing & Value
The Subaru Outback presents a great value against the rest of its class competitors and a good value if being cross-shopped with the current crop of midsize SUVs.
The Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, while comparably priced, loses to the Outback in fuel economy, overall size, and overall versatility. The Golf SportWagen is less expensive than the Outback but doesn't provide all-wheel drive and lacks the Outback's reported reliability.
All the competing Audi and Volvo models offer more luxury, but their prices generally range from a little under $40,000 to more than $65,000 – and don't always offer the amount of interior space as the Subaru.
The Outback's standard all-wheel-drive system comes through again when compared to the midsize SUV segment. Many crossovers don't offer all-wheel drive as standard, and the added ground clearance gives the Subaru some true capability that other competing SUVs lack.
Even with only average cargo space compared to the midsize SUV segment, the Outback is priced competitively. Its ease of driving, high safety ratings and a plethora of standard equipment allow it to shine as a standout family vehicle or daily commuter.
The few downsides to the Outback include its lackluster performance and lack of third-row seating. The larger six-cylinder engine mitigates the sluggish performance slightly, but you will have to upgrade to the Outback's larger sibling, the Subaru Ascent if a third row is necessary.
All Outback models come equipped with a standard continuously variable transmission.
Standard safety features included on every Outback include automatic emergency braking, forward pre-collision warning, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.
The Subaru Outback is available in six different trim options:
Subaru Outback 2.5i
The base Subaru Outback 2.5i starts at an MSRP of $26,345. With a destination fee of $975, the 2.5i is offered at just under $27,500.
The only engine available on the base Outback is the 2.5-liter flat four-cylinder.Subaru's EyeSight Driver Assist system, hill descent control, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Subaru's StarLink infotainment system, 6.5-inch touchscreen interface, and roof rack system are all notable standard Outback features.
Other standard features include a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 4-speaker HD audio system, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium
The Outback 2.5i Premium starts at an MSRP of $29,500 with destination fee. The Premium adds a larger 8-inch StarLink infotainment interface, voice commands, a 6-speaker audio system, dual-zone automatic climate control, power driver's seat, heated front seats, a windshield wiper de-icer, and Sirius XM satellite radio capability.
Other standard upgrades include a leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear privacy glass, fog lights, and a cargo cover.
A power moonroof, which comes with an automatic dimming rearview mirror, can be added to the Premium as a package option. A navigation system, a power liftgate, rear cross-traffic alert, and blind spot monitoring can all be added as optional extras.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited
The Outback 2.5i Limited starts at around $33,900 with destination fee. The Limited adds blind spot monitoring, power liftgate and rear cross-traffic alert from the Premium as standard features. A navigation system and LED headlights are optional extras.
Leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, woodgrain interior trim, heated rear seats, a Harman Kardon 12-speaker audio system, driver memory seating, push-button start, and a power passenger front seat round out the Limited's standard features.
Subaru Outback 2.5i Touring
The top-level Touring trim starts at an MSRP of $37,800 with destination fee included. Navigation becomes standard on Touring models. Premium leather upholstery, unique interior and exterior trim pieces, automatic high-beam headlights, adaptable LED headlights, and a heated steering wheel, along with everything from the Premium and Limited, trims are all standard.
Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
The Outback 3.6R Limited starts at just under $36,000. This trim comes with the upgraded 256 horsepower six-cylinder engine, and all the standard equipment from the 2.5i Limited, along with its available package options, are transferred to the 3.6R Limited trim.
Subaru Outback 3.6R Touring
The 3.6R Touring is the highest trim level Outback available and starts at just under $40,000.
The 3.6R Touring also features the same standard equipment and optional extras as the 2.5i Touring, except with the larger six-cylinder engine.
See more 2019 Subaru Outback Photos.