2011 Subaru Outback Performance
This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.
The Outback drives like a car -- a tough car. With its standard all-wheel drive system, the Outback can handle poor weather conditions without breaking a sweat. Reviewers enjoy the optional CVT transmission that is available on trims with the 2.5-liter engine.
- "A stronger, stiffer unit body and new front/rear subframes complement the rest of the Outback's 'right-sizing' changes to create a package that's smoother, quieter, better controlled, and more comfortable than ever." -- Motor Trend
- "The Outback is unfazed by mud, by repeatedly hitting its bump-stops, by 35-degree inclines. Pick your line, pay attention, and drive. The same Subaru experience that has made the company's name in almost every dusty, snowy, icy, yak-tracked corner of the world." -- Autoblog
Acceleration and Power
The 170-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine has more than enough power for everyday driving, but those looking for a little more get-up may prefer opting for the 256 horsepower in the 3.6-liter six-cylinder. The EPA gives 2.5-liter models ratings of 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway when paired with the CVT (automatic transmission) and 19 city/27 highway with the manual transmission. The six-cylinder only comes with a five-speed automatic transmission and is rated at 18 city/25 highway.
- "We spent time in both the 2.5i model with the CVT and the 3.6R with a five-speed auto. Both engines deliver exceptionally smooth and linear power to all four wheels, although passing maneuvers with the four-cylinder/CVT model had to be accomplished with more than a little faith." -- Edmunds
- "No matter which engine we drove, though, we found the ride and refinement well sorted. The Outback is built on an all-new and more rigid platform, and the engine sits in its new cradle on hydraulic mounts" -- Autoblog
- "Of course, opting for the Six brings more power. But it also delivers a heavier, more substantial feel to the steering. By itself, the Six is amazingly smooth, and the heft to the steering isn't necessarily negative. But the gain in performance doesn't seem to be worth the trouble or expense, considering how brilliantly the Four works with the CVT." -- Popular Mechanics
- "While I haven't driven the six-cylinder model, I found the four-cylinder engine to have more than enough power for my everyday driving, with plenty of zip for freeway merges and for passing on two-lane rural roads. I never had the chance to try any steep mountain grades, however." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- "On-road or in the dirt, it felt confident and proved itself capable regardless of powertrain -- although the 4000-foot-plus elevations we were playing in clearly favored the 3.6R's higher output." -- Motor Trend
Handling and Braking
The Outback's ride is more akin to that of a car than an SUV. Reviewers enjoy the handling for the most part, but are mixed on the steering.
- "What you get is the ride of a car -- not a CUV, and not even a wagon." -- Autoblog
- "Handling is better than average for a wagon or SUV, thanks to the Outback's close relationship to the Legacy sedan. Steering is tight and fairly responsive." -- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
- "When the Outback takes a set in a corner, the chassis' reaction (almost overreaction) was slightly more than what we expected.... it took the better part of a day to get used to the character of the Outback's steering and chassis." -- Edmunds
- "... it's a sweet-natured wagon with poised road manners, a decent ride and light rack-and-pinion steering that never bothers upsetting the driver with any pesky feedback. Beyond that, it's an excellent scrambler along dirt roads and up some pretty difficult trails." -- Popular Mechanics