Subaru Outback estate
"The Subaru Outback is a practical family car and it's also good off-road – but rivals are more stylish"
- Plenty of safety kit
- Capable off-road
- Well built
- Dull interior
- No diesel option
- Rivals are more refined
The original Subaru Legacy Outback went on sale over 25 years ago and it was the first estate car with the looks of a 4x4 off-roader. It’s now in its fifth generation and Subaru has sharpened up the looks, upgraded the interior and thrown in some new technology.
The Outback is fitted with Subaru’s tough four-wheel-drive system, which means it can show some bigger and pricier 4x4s a clean pair of heels off-road. It also has a 200mm ride height and panels that protect the underside of the car to help it over rough terrain. A 173bhp 2.5-litre petrol is the only engine option, while there are two trim levels – SE and SE Premium – each of which has a lot of equipment.
Basic SE trim is well kitted out with the likes of 17-inch alloy wheels, sat nav, heated seats and Subaru’s EyeSight safety features, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, so there’s little sense in paying more for the SE Premium.
Subaru no longer sells the Legacy (the car on which the Outback is based) in the UK, but the Outback is similar to the new Subaru Levorg estate, which replaced the Legacy. In terms of rivals, the Outback competes with niche estate cars that have been tweaked to better handle off-roading, including the Volvo XC60, Audi A4 Allroad, and Audi A6 Allroad. The Volkswagen Passat Alltrack, Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer and Skoda Octavia Scout occupy a similar place in the market.
Although it takes a bite out of fuel economy and emissions, the car's Lineartronic automatic gearbox is great if you plan to use the Outback off-road, as it has a special mode that sets the car up for slippery surfaces and maximises grip.
The Subaru Outback finished 20th out of the 75 cars ranked in our 2017 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey of cars currently on sale in the UK.