Subaru Outback review - your favourite estate car
"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
Verdict – Is the Subaru Outback a good car?
You’d be forgiven for forgetting the Subaru Outback is still on sale. It seems like much of the manufacturer’s recent attention has been on its Solterra electric car, but for a small and loyal band of customers, the Outback clearly does everything they could want from a car. Reliability is excellent and with the disappearance of Audi Allroads, Skoda Scouts, and other similar models, the Outback is also pretty much the only car of its type left on sale. It’s not the quickest, most fun to drive, or most efficient, but it’s safe, spacious, and well-equipped – and there’s a lot to be said for that.
Subaru Outback models, specs and alternatives
The original Subaru Legacy Outback went on sale more than 25 years ago and it was the first estate car with the looks of a 4x4 off-roader. It’s now in its sixth 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 213mm ride height and panels that protect the underside of the car to help it over rough terrain. A 167bhp 2.5-litre flat-four petrol is the only engine option and a Lineartronic CVT automatic is the only gearbox, while there are three trim levels – Limited, Field, and Touring – each of which has a lot of equipment.
Basic Limited trim is well kitted out with the likes of LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8-way power adjustable driver’s seat with heated front and rear seats, keyless go, and Subaru’s EyeSight safety features, including adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, so while the Field and Touring both offer even more equipment, all the essentials are there in the least expensive model.
Reliability also comes as standard; the Subaru Outback finished fifth out of the 75 cars in the 2023 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, and topped the entire list for reliability, while Subaru as a brand finished in fourth place from 32 manufacturers, behind only Porsche, Polestar, and Tesla – and beat those top three for dependability. The Outback has been given a full five-star rating by Euro NCAP, too.
Subaru no longer sells the Legacy (the car on which the Outback is based) in the UK, and no longer offers any other conventional estate cars since the disappearance of the smaller Levorg, so it’s the lone offering between the raised XV hatchback, and Subaru’s small range of crossovers, including the Forester and the all-electric Solterra. With Volvo also no longer offering estate models to UK customers, it’s left to the likes of premium models like the Audi A4 and A6 (no longer offered in lifted Allroad trim), BMW 3-series and 5-series Touring, and the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class Estates to fill a similar niche.
For less money, Skoda still offers Octavia and Superb estates too, albeit no longer in off-road-style Scout trim. Today, you’re more likely to find that blend of estate car practicality and light off-road ability from an SUV – maybe that’s why a handful of loyal customers still buy their Outbacks.