2017 Subaru Outback Expert Review

4.3 Overall Score
Performance 3.8 Comfort 3.8 Styling 4.0 Value 4.4

Editor's Overview

The 2017 Subaru Outback crossover SUV gets a new upper-tier model, the Outback Touring, which basically comes with all the options boxes pre-checked while adding nicer leather and unique styling cues. The rest of the Outback range remains largely the same, good news for this popular Subaru crossover SUV -- or if you prefer, popular high-riding wagon.

You'll Like The 2017 Subaru Outback If...

The 2017 Subaru Outback excels when it comes to resale, fuel economy, safety and family friendliness. Yet it's also a solid choice for those looking to take their families into deep snow, backwoods off-road trails or other out-of-the way places.

You May Not Like The 2017 Subaru Outback If...

While the Subaru Outback is surprisingly capable for a crossover SUV, it's no match for dedicated off-roaders like a Jeep Wrangler. Additionally, there's no 3rd-row seat option, and 6-cylinder models especially aren't cheap.

What's New

The 2017 Subaru Outback sees the addition of a whole new model, the Outback Touring, which includes every single option and adds unique leather and exterior trim. Other improvements include Reverse Auto Braking and high-beam assist.

Interior Features

Part of the new 2017 Outback Touring's upgrades is new Java Brown perforated leather upholstery, with contrasting ivory stitching. It also includes a unique woodgrain and piano-black interior trim. Otherwise, the interior is very similar to the Legacy sedan’s, no bad thing, as the clean and functional layout benefits from good ergonomics and the latest touch-screen infotainment system's design. All seating positions are comfortable, but we especially like the roomy, reclining rear seat. There's plenty of cargo space in this crossover SUV, of course, and that goes double with the seats folded. It's also notably quiet inside, whether accelerating or cruising.

Exterior Features

The Outback Touring for 2017 adds some visual flair to what is already a solidly handsome crossover SUV. There's a unique-to-the-model Brilliant Brown color that looks good, even though "brilliant" is an odd adjective for brown. We also like the silver finish on the roof rails. But it's all frosting on an already tasty cake. We like the shape of the Outback, which looks purposeful and stylish, one of those cars that still looks classy when it's caked in mud. The rugged lower body cladding and round fog lights would be passé on another car, but here they're signature styling elements.

Driving Impressions

While the 2017 Subaru Outback Touring is loaded with every option, adding special leather and model-specific exterior trim to appeal to luxury buyers, one thing remains true: 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. The standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is no powerhouse, but it's plenty adequate for the task, and it offers very good fuel economy. The 6-cylinder has more power, but not quite as much as you might think, and it's only available on more expensive models. The real hero is the standard all-wheel-drive system, which uses Active Torque Vectoring to enhance traction at higher speeds by automatically routing power for better stability, and X-Mode and Hill Descent Control to bolster off-road ability.

Pricing Notes

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on an Outback 2.5i is about $26,500. For the Premium model you'll pay about $28,500, and the Limited starts around $33,200. The new Touring model starts a little below the $37,000 mark, and that's with the 4-cylinder. If you want the 6-cylinder engine, you'll add about $3,000 to the price of an Outback Limited or Touring, the only models where the 6-cylinder is available. Note that while the 4-cylinder Outback is decently priced, its 6-cylinder models are notably higher than competitors like the Ford Edge and Chevy Equinox, both of which offer V6 models for less than $30,000; maybe a 6-cylinder Premium model priced closer to $30,000 could 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

All 2017 Outback models come with a continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT) and all-wheel drive with X-Mode and hill-descent control. Other features include standard grille shutters, which close at highway speeds to improve fuel economy. Inside, you'll find the usual things like power windows, door locks and mirrors, cruise control and air conditioning. The standard infotainment system uses a 6.2-inch touch screen, and includes compatibility with iHeart Radio, Aha and Pandora, and of course also comes with USB and Bluetooth inputs. Safety features include a standard rearview camera, and airbags under the seat cushions to prevent submarining in a crash.

Notable Options

Chief among options for the Subaru Outback are the company's EyeSight system, which uses cameras to add adaptive cruise control; lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, pre-collision braking and even steering-responsive fog lights on some models. Available for the first time are Reverse Automatic Braking and automatic high beams, available on Sport models as part of the EyeSight system. The available power liftgate has a programmable maximum height, and there's a voice-activated navigation system with a larger and sharp 7-inch screen. 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 is a standard feature of all Outback models. It's designed to help this crossover SUV maintain its composure even under difficult off-road circumstances. On top of that, it includes Hill Descent Control, which takes over braking duties during steep descents.


The Subaru Outback makes exceptionally clever use of its roof rails. Normally, they're lengthwise with the car, but when you need crossbars to actually carry something on the roof, the rails pivot outward, snapping into place on the other side. They even adjust fore and aft.

Under the Hood

Subarus use an engine configuration known as a "boxer," where the pistons are parallel to the ground; 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 layout lowers the center of gravity, which aids handling. There are two engines available. The 2.5-liter standard 4-cylinder offers up 175 horsepower, while the 6-cylinder version has a much more robust 256 horsepower. However, while the 6-cylinder is definitely quicker than the 4-cylinder version, neither is what we'd call quick. Both send power through a continuously variable automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive is standard. The all-wheel drive system 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: 25/32 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 Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

Editors' Notes

Despite outward appearances, the 2017 Subaru Outback is much more than a high-riding wagon version of the Subaru Legacy sedan. Chief among the differences are the Subaru Outback's X-Mode off-road-assist system and 8.7 inches of ground clearance, which help back up the Outback's visual suggestion that it really can tackle tough off-road situations. And it can; unlike competitors like the Chevrolet Equinox or Nissan Murano, the Outback's all-wheel-drive system is designed to tackle more than just snowy roads and dusty trails. Yet inside, the Outback is downright luxurious, especially in the new Outback Touring model, which adds unique leather and exterior trim. Technologies, like the EyeSight collision-mitigation and active cruise control, elevate the Outback to the realm of many premium-luxury SUVs.

Road Test Video Reviews

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Owner Reviews


252 Reviews

80% 17% 2% 1% 1 star 0%

Owner reviews are verified by our team and cannot be altered or removed.

My Subaru outback is the ultimate camp/adventure car.

Becoming a Subaru driver is probably one of the best decisions I have made. Subaru's are notable for their reliability and that has proven to be true in the 3 years I have been driving my car. So far in the 35,000 miles I have driven, Subaru has had my back through my own mistakes (never my car's fault). When I run out of gas I can rest easy knowing that Subaru roadside (complementary with the lease) will show up within 30 minutes or less. Additionally, the people at the dealership treat you like family, know you by name, and help explain all maintenance that they perform on your car. It is also a plus that they are a charitable and environmentally conscious company!

- Madison D

The Subaru outback is worth the investment!

I love my Subaru outback. While I was shopping for a vehicle I heard so many great things about Subaru vehicles and I have not been disappointed. The outback is a very comfortable ride. The seats are great quality and I find the armrest to be very soft/comfortable. I have had the car for two years and have not had any major issues with it - nothing breaking down, no weird noises. In the winter months, I do sometimes have a problem with the gas tank cover not opening because it freezes shut. The vehicle is very roomy and riding in the back seats is comfortable. I love the cargo space in the back and the seats fold down at the touch of a button... So easy!

- Nicole B

Roomy enough for jolly green giant.

I love this car! We needed a reliable AWD vehicle for snowy and muddy conditions and so far this car is awesome. The clearance does not allow it to go four wheeling, per se. I do not like that I cannot use cruise control if eyesight is disabled. I also dislike the auto reply texting. The curve lights are really helpful. The car we have does not have auto dimming side mirrors which is a con. I wish there was a traditional cup holder in the back. This vehicle is super roomy- my husband is 6’5” and he fits very comfortably and there’s enough room for both of us to sleep in here with the seats folded down. Also, fuel economy is excellent.

- Sierra E