Road test |  Subaru Outback: one of a kind

Road test | Subaru Outback: one of a kind

The Subaru Outback always defies against all odds the irresistible force of gravity represented by SUVs and crossovers. The family on stilts, lonely for the gradual departure of competitors, continues in its reading of family needs, of course with a touch of nostalgia for the golden age of the “station car”. But why?

Posted on March 16, 2021

Charles Rene

Charles Rene



The current Outback, which is in its second year of production, is still developing its attractive side.

It’s true that the station wagon doesn’t have the aura it once had, but that doesn’t stop Subaru from tweaking the recipe. The current Outback, which is in its second year of production, is still developing its attractive side. First, we see a ground clearance of 220 mm, higher than that of the regular Jeep Grand Cherokee. This is supported visually by side sills, front bumper and rear bumpers decorated with matte plastic. This material is even on the roof rails. It’s a lot, maybe too much, but it fits the advertiser image that this Outback wants to project, with good rock-cushioning. Other than that, the formula is very similar to its forebears, with well-pronounced front and rear bumpers and an understated ID, looking to please an audience that’s probably already won over.

On board


The overall volume of the cabin is at an all-time high, making this Outback more welcoming than most compact SUVs.

Like the Legacy, this Outback has come a long way in terms of the overall quality of its interior. The Wagon no longer looks enviously at other Japanese brands at a comparable price thanks to a good mix of flexible materials combined with top stitching. The driving position is quite clear, to give a sense of height similar to that of an SUV. Apart from a few differences, most of the keys, few in number due to the presence of a large central touch screen, are well placed. The steering wheel is not too cluttered with too many controls either. Overall cabin volume is on the whole, making this Outback more welcoming than most compact SUVs, especially in the back. However, we would have liked more spacious rooms in the front. However, we recover with a trunk of 920 L which makes this model very versatile.

Under the hood


Subaru Outback XT 2.4L turbocharged four-cylinder engine

The tested XT livery differs from the base version with its turbocharged 2.4L flat-four engine whose power has been increased to 260 hp with torque of 277 lb-ft. It can only be fitted with a CVT gearbox with a torque converter. If this engine expresses itself with good enthusiasm when it is set to the rhythm, the same cannot be said about its sound, which is quite normal. The biggest fault in this group is in the matter of the line of the accelerator pedal. The CVT box constantly seeks, along with the engine map, to keep the engine in low gear in urban driving, which forces us to press hard on this pedal to have any reaction. To review. In addition, fuel consumption is acceptable for the combination of turbo and all-wheel drive, around 9 L/100 km.

Behind the wheel


Thanks to its good ground clearance, this Outback can easily get out of trouble in several situations.

Just like its outer skin, the Outback doesn’t really exude a sense of excitement behind the wheel. Is this a problem in itself? Not true, while indirect competition shows this lack of personality. The fact remains that this car has a lot of confidence in terms of holding onto snow surfaces, despite the huge torque reserves of the turbo engine. Its all-wheel drive is still a landmark. Add to that good ground clearance, and this Backback can easily get out of trouble in a number of situations. Although it is equipped with remote sensing, the steering wheel helps to maintain the course well and does not give any failures. Dynamically, the roll and pitch motions are there, but this Backback consistently clings to the line when cornering. It also promotes acceptable comfort, but it is not the first in the class in this regard.

Embedded technologies


The infotainment system isn’t as smooth as you’d like when you move your finger sideways to navigate.

The technological version of this Outback XT is primarily based on the presence of a large screen of 11.6 inches well integrated into the dashboard using brushed gray materials. It is a gateway to the multimedia system, but also to many common commands. Therefore, you have to go through this screen to adjust the ventilation, as well as the heated seats, or even turn off the various safety functions that are active. The concept, inspired by Tesla, often requires a lot of manipulation. The system is also not as fluid as one would want when moving your finger sideways to scroll. The menu design however is well thought out and makes it easy to use. The sound of the mid-range audio system of this version is also not very convincing. Unfortunately, the transition to the Harman Kardon chain cannot be done lightly, but only by upgrading the version.



Well assembled, standardly equipped and offering a spacious interior, this Subaru represents a rare alternative to an SUV.

There is no need to deny the importance of the existence of this Backback. The station wagon is still and always is a convincing, distinctive option that guarantees the exclusivity of the Subaru brand. The Japanese manufacturer has often imagined, or even reinvented, different things. This freedom of spirit is safe, even important. Well assembled, modestly equipped and offering a spacious interior, it represents a rare alternative to an SUV. Its all-wheel drive ensures great stability and a sense of stability in all conditions. It’s also nicer than most utilities, but don’t expect to enjoy driving it. The Outback remains a top choice that relies on its versatility to convince. Apart from some details, it succeeds in persuasiveness.


Standard security features

The Outback is well stocked as standard in terms of active safety. From Active Cruise Control to Active Brake Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, it’s all available at no extra cost.

Is jumping on the turbo necessary?

Is the jump to turbocharged manuals necessary? Not true due to the fact that this Outback does not have sports displays. The naturally aspirated engine does the trick, and seems better suited to the CVT box. It will also allow you to save on the purchase price and fuel consumption.

Pull a little more

The turbocharged Outback can tow slightly more than its naturally aspirated counterpart, namely 1588 kg compared to 1225 kg.

Excellent view

One of the strengths of this Backback remains to be seen. Thanks to the glass surface and simple exterior lines, the driver’s vision is slightly obstructed, which increases safety.

Increase cargo space in a jiffy

Like most modern SUVs, the Outback has handles in the rear trunk to quickly fold the rear seats to create a completely flat surface. It is simple and efficient, as well as increasing the available space from 920 L to 2144 L.

Technical paper

Model tested: Subaru Outback Outdoor XT
Engine: Turbocharged 2.4L DOHC H4
Power: 260 hp at 5600 rpm
Torque: 277 lb-ft from 2000 to 4800 rpm
Distribution: always changing and manual mode
Engine layout: front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
Consumption (EnerGuide): 9.1 L/100 km
Price (including options, transportation and preparation): $41,170
Competitors: none
New 2021? No major changes
> To know more