2017 Subaru Outback review with video

The basics:

Base price: $27,995
As tested: $41,595
Average fuel economy over our week of testing: 11.2 L/100 kms (21 MPG)
Competition: Audi Allroad, Volkswagen Alltrack, Volvo V90 Cross Country, etc.

It’s hard to believe the Outback has been around for more than twenty years now – with Crocodile Dundee cruising through the Outback when it was released back in 1994. Since then, it’s really grown up – both in terms of refinement and size. The fifth generation Outback was released in 2015 but 2017 has seen a few tweaks including the introduction of a new chart-topping Premier trim, a faster to close automatic rear tail gate, easier to access child seat anchor points and available reverse auto braking that will take control if a pedestrian or other vehicle enters your path as you’re backing out of your driveway or a parking spot. For an in depth review, take a look at the video above and then check-out our bullet point report card of the Outback below.

2017 Subaru OutbackPros:

– Subaru’s famous all wheel drive system comes standard on all eleven trim configurations of the Outback
– The trunk capacity in the Outback is a rather vacuous 1005 litres – which gives you far more room than many SUVs, let alone station wagons
– The fit and finish in the new Premier edition is the best we’ve seen in any Subaru – complete with java brown leather and open pore wood
– Ride quality is smooth with a good balance between cornering performance and comfortable ride
– The Outback has a Top Safety Pick + rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – thanks largely to Subaru’s top shelf Eyesight system
– The smaller 2.5-litre boxer engine has a suggested fuel economy of 7.3-9.4 L/100 kms, which is very respectable for a vehicle of this size

Cons:2017 Subaru Outback

– Meanwhile, the larger 3.6R engine that we had in our tester was quite a bit thirstier with an average of 11.2 L/100 kms over our week of testing
– And while the 3.6R has 256 horsepower and supplies steady, smooth power, its acceleration is more sluggish than we expected – particularly off the line
– Although attention to interior fit and finish has improved a lot in Subarus,  there is still some suspect switchwear on the steering wheel, and a busy centre console with old school digital display for the climate control system that takes away from the overall premium feel
– Towing capacity maxes out at 2700 lbs, which puts it well behind many midsize crossovers – or even the Ford Escape we tested recently that can tow up to 3500 lbs
– And while the infotainment system is straight forward to navigate through, the voice recognitition software struggled to understand commands and addresses

Family Wheels report card:

Family Wheels driver comfort score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior layout score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels infotainment system score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels interior noise score: 3.5/5 (69 dB at 100 kms/h)
Family Wheels performance score: 3.5/5
Family Wheels rear passenger score: 4.5/5
Family Wheels trunk test score: 5/5
Family Wheels fuel economy score: 3/5 (3.6R engine)
Family Wheels build quality score: 4/5
Family Wheels value score: 4/5

Family Wheels overall score: 38.5/50= 76%

Thanks to Subaru Calgary for supplying our test vehicle this week

3 comments

  • Great video and great review.

  • Don

    Excellent review, thanks.

    You stated that you would like to see the HVAC controls integrated with the touch screen. I travel for work and rent cars (different brands and models) almost every week. I dislike having the HVAC controls in the touch screen as I feel it takes my attention away from driving for too long. Switching back and forth between Audio & Climate screens is distracting and annoying for me.

    Disclaimer – I am huge Subaru fan! We currently have a 2004 Forester XT (over 300K kms, going strong), a 2016 Outback Limited and a 2014 WRX STi in the family. All are great vehicles, especially with Alberta weather conditions. Are they perfect? No. They are, however, getting better all time. And as you pointed out, they are great family vehicles with excellent safety features. Our Outback has Eyesight and it functions extremely well – on summer roads, I didn’t need to hit the accelerator or brake pedal once on a trip between Calgary and Edmonton!

    One other plug that you didn’t mention – I find Subaru seats to be very comfortable. I have driven all sorts of brands and models of cars when I rent and our Subaru seats are among the best. This of course is somewhat subjective based on my body size, however seat comfort cannot be understated.
    Recommendation for car buyers – don’t buy a car without spending at least 30 minutes behind the wheel. After 15 minutes in some cars, my back starts to ache and I wish I had rented a different one.

    • Matt

      I agree with you, Don – I prefer having the traditional knobs and dials for my heating and cooling. I don’t want to have to take my eyes off the road and fish through a couple of menus (because usually a map or radio screen is on) and find what I’m looking for.

      I can reach over and with tactile feedback know I’ve hit the button and change it accordingly.

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