KBB Logo Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.

Editor's Overview

The 2016 Subaru Outback is the wagon that thinks it’s an SUV. Roomier than most compact-crossover SUVs, the Outback’s Legacy-based platform delivers car-like ride and handling, while its legendary all-wheel-drive system lets it go places many so-called SUVs dare not venture. A luxurious interior and cutting-edge driver-assist technologies only sweeten the deal.

You'll Like The 2016 Subaru Outback If...

If you’re looking for a family-friendly vehicle that excels in the areas of resale, fuel economy and safety, the 2016 Subaru Outback wagon is it. If you’re looking for a roomy family vehicle that can also tackle deep snow and off-road trails, the 2016 Subaru Outback can do that, too.

You May Not Like The 2016 Subaru Outback If...

If you’re thinking of taking your Outback down the Rubicon trail or towing anything heavier than 3,000 pounds, think about a Jeep Wrangler or used Nissan Xterra. Subaru’s 2016 Outback lacks a 3rd-row seat option and can cost more than many comparably equipped compact-crossover SUVs.

What's New

Subaru’s Outback for 2016 sees only minor improvement over last year’s model. A new Starlink safety and security package is added to the Premium and Limited trims, while the EyeSight system gains Lane Keep Assist. Steering feel has been enhanced, and the Limited trim has its suspension recalibrated for a smoother ride.

Interior Features

The Subaru Outback crossover SUV for 2016 essentially shares its interior with the 2016 Subaru Legacy sedan – a good thing. The layout is clean and functional, and we especially like the latest touch-screen infotainment system's design. The seats are comfortable in all positions, especially the roomy, reclining rear seat (thanks to the Outback's tall roof). Cargo space in this SUV is obviously leaps and bounds better than the Legacy sedan. That goes double with the seats folded. It's quieter than its predecessor, thanks in part to the way the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) mimics gear changes at full throttle.

Exterior Features

While the 2016 Subaru Outback's styling still favors practical over pizazz, this Subaru crossover-SUV wagon is definitely an improvement over the last-generation Outback. The neatly integrated headlights and taillights blend with an upright, chunky look that incorporates Subaru's new hexagonal grille and the Outback's traditional round fog lights and rugged-looking lower body cladding. Clever touches include grille shutters that close at speed to improve fuel economy, and LED taillights. We also like the standard roof rails with their integrated stowable crossbars.

Driving Impressions

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. 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. On the road, Subaru’s Active Torque Vectoring enhances traction at higher speeds by automatically routing power for better stability. Off-road, the 2016 Subaru Outback’s true brilliance is revealed. Standard X-Mode bolsters low-speed traction while Hill Descent Control does all the braking on steep descents, allowing the driver to focus on piloting the vehicle.

Pricing Notes

A well-equipped base Subaru Outback 2.5i starts with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) a little under $26,000. Premium models start just over $28,000, and that can increase to more than $31,000 when adding options like a moonroof, power liftgate and EyeSight. For $31,000 you can step into a Limited model with leather seats and wood trim. Add about $3,000 if you want a 6-cylinder engine. A loaded Limited with a 6-cylinder will run nearly $40,000. Note that the least expensive 6-cylinder Outback is in the mid-$30,000 range, while the Ford Edge and Chevy Equinox offer a 6-cylinder for less than $30,000. We think a 6-cylinder Premium model priced closer to $30,000 would broaden the Outback SUV-wagon's appeal. Subaru Outbacks usually hold their value better than average for the class. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying.

Notable Equipment

Subaru’s 2016 Outback wagon comes nicely equipped, even on the base model. Of course, there are the usual comfort and convenience features: power windows, air conditioning, power mirrors, cruise control, and so on. However, even the base Outback comes with a rearview camera and advanced safety features like under-seat-cushion airbags to prevent submarining in a crash. The touch-screen audio system includes a 6.2-inch screen, Aha, iHeart Radio, Pandora and, of course, Bluetooth and USB. Every Outback also comes with X-Mode, hill-descent control, active torque vectoring, and grille shutters, the last of which helps improve highway fuel economy.

Notable Options

Among the most notable Outback options is Subaru's EyeSight system, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking and, on some models, steering-responsive fog lights. Also available is a power liftgate with a programmable maximum height, voice-activated navigation with a larger 7-inch screen, and a Rear Vehicle Detection System that combines blind-spot detection, lane-change assist and rear cross-traffic alerts. Also available is a leather interior trimmed with classy-looking faux wood on Limited models, along with an upgraded harman/kardon audio system.

Favorite Features

X-MODE

Relatively new to Subaru, X-Mode bolsters the 2016 Outback crossover-SUV’s ability to venture off-road by making sure the vehicle retains maximum traction under the worst circumstances. Besides ensuring that the wheels with the best grip receive maximum power, X-Mode’s Hill Descent Control feature takes over braking duties during steep descents.

PIVOTING ROOF CROSSBAR

Why someone didn’t think of this sooner is one of life’s many mysteries, but we’re glad Subaru figured it out. When not in use, the Outback’s roof-rack crossbars pivot to stow in the roof rails, thus reducing wind noise above the roof. The crossbars are also adjustable fore and aft.

Under the Hood

Subaru uses what are known as "boxer" engines, with horizontally opposed pistons. Imagine a "V-type” engine, then widen the V until you've made it into a flat line, and you have the layout of the Subaru engines. This "flat" layout lowers the center of gravity to aid handling, and it's also a design that's inherently low-vibration. In the 2016 Outback crossover-SUV wagon, a 4-cylinder is standard, with a 6-cylinder available on Limited models. Regardless of engine choice, you get a CVT automatic transmission that includes steering-wheel-mounted paddles to select preset ratios to simulate a manual transmission. All Outbacks come with all-wheel drive, a system that includes X-Mode for low-speed traction, and Active Torque Vectoring for high-speed stability in corners.

2.5-liter boxer-4

175 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm

174 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/33 mpg

3.6-liter flat-6

256 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm

247 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm

EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/27 mpg

Editors' Notes

Subaru’s 2016 Outback crossover wagon is one of the few crossover SUVs that can actually fulfill the promises made by its rugged exterior. Unlike the Toyota Venza, Chevrolet Equinox or Nissan Murano, the Outback’s all-wheel-drive system is designed to tackle more than just snowy roads and dusty trails. Its 8.7 inches of ground clearance and X-Mode off-road assist speak volumes about the Outback’s ability. The Outback’s luxurious trappings coupled with the latest driver-assist technology, such as Subaru’s EyeSight collision-mitigation and active cruise control, elevate the Outback to the realm of many premium luxury SUVs. The Subaru Outback for 2016 delivers a comfortable ride, precise steering and, with the 2.5-liter under the hood impressive fuel economy.

Road Test Video Reviews

2016 Subaru Outback Owner Reviews

4.67
215 Reviews
76% 18% 4% < 1% < 1%
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It's great but has some electricity problems

2016 Subaru Outback

I love driving this car. The all wheel drive is wonderful in the winter and the size is perfect for traveling long distances with family gear. However, the car starter is extremely finicky. I have to be very close to the vehicle for it to register and even then if I turn away or don't press it at the right intervals the car won't start. There is also a linked door system which turns the car off if I open a door and break the start link. Seems anti-intuitive to produce a car that turns off after started with a car starter. Also the power window for the passenger side seems faulty, working very randomly. Also the steering navigation and stereo setup seems like an afterthought. If you pay attention to button layout. The steering radio volume and change controls are in the opposite direction of one another which isn't too hard to correct if designed appropriately. For all the technology advancements out there this car made a very rough incorporation. Again the overall design is good but the add-ons seem very pieced in. When compared to a GMC touch system, I'd choose GMC.

- Emily

My fun, roomy, safe Subaru.

2016 Subaru Outback

My outback is fun to drive, comfortable and easy going. I love the seat warmers (front and back seats). It has great technology options - already built in. It gets great gas mileage - about 30 miles per gallon in the city. Has nice suspension so long road trips are delightful. I have a big dog who I take with me just about everywhere - he loves to ride in the back of the car with easy in and out because of the hatchback. Radio and speakers are nice, I have Sirius radio and it sound beautiful in the car. I also like to listen to audiobooks - and the Subaru connects immediately with my phone's Bluetooth - so I can listen to stories whenever I want to. I love my Subaru. The all wheel drive makes driving in the ice and snow so much easier.

- Shawn L

The select shift either automatic or manumatic.

2016 Subaru Outback

Driving position is very comfortable. Braking is well above average. Acceleration is well within an acceptable range. The mpg is 31 unless driven hard then it ranges from 21 to 25 mpg. Controls are straight up and clear. The only problem I can see is the time and outside temperature is extremely hard to read. It blends in with the surrounding console. The interior is well integrated and the quality of materials in superior to most cars on the road today. The service is easy and is straight forward. The oil filter is located right up front. According to all the reports, keep the oil changed regularly and the tires regularly serviced, the car should last 12 to 13 years with more than 300, 000 miles. Get a Subaru you will never let it go.

- Joe A

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