2012 Subaru Outback Review
Whether you call it a wagon or an SUV, reviewers call the 2012 Subaru Outback one of the most practical, useful and safe cars you can buy. We named it the 2012 Best Wagon for the Money.
When automakers try to make a car fit into more than one class, test drivers often recoil from the inevitable Frankenride that results. That’s not the case with the 2012 Subaru Outback. "Subaru's Outback is a well-rounded combination of midsize car, station wagon, and sport-utility attributes,” writes Consumer Guide. “Car loyalists, crossover intenders, and even those searching for an at least mildly off-road-capable SUV will find a lot to like with the Outback.”
The 2012 Subaru Outback has generous cargo space, roomy seats and standard all-wheel drive. Top scores in crash tests and lots of family-friendly features, like an available rearview camera and Bluetooth music streaming, are just two of the reasons we named the Outback the 2012 Best Wagon for Families. Test drivers also like that the Outback can be had as a basic family runner for about $23,000, or a near-luxury car with leather seats, navigation and top-notch entertainment features for about $35,000. No matter how you outfit the Outback, it has a pleasing driving experience, excellent safety scores and a level of practicality that other station wagons, crossovers and small SUVs have trouble keeping up with.
The Automotive Press on the Subaru Outback
- "Outback is bigger and better than before, but it's still a proudly eccentric and weirdly wonderful mashup of station wagon, SUV and Australian off-road pretense." -- Popular Mechanics
- “Some similar-in-concept competitors ultimately feel compromised by trying to be too many things at once, but not this Recommended Subaru.” -- Consumer Guide
- "If you were hoping this new Outback was going to remain a tidy AWD wagon made smarter for you and roomier for guests, you'll be disappointed with Subaru's newest SUV." -- Edmunds
- "If you need a very good car and you don't need flash, get the 2.5i with some frills. If you need a very good car and you want a little bit of zip, get the 3.6. Either way, you're buying a terrific piece of equipment that offers the fortitude of a bison wrapped in the appeal of a pony." -- Autoblog
Other Wagons/SUVs to Consider
The Subaru Outback has a lot of competition, since it fits between wagons and SUVs. The Toyota Venza fills the same niche as the Outback, boasting a wagon-like design, taller seating and capabilities for light off-road or foul-weather adventures. The Venza offers a standard automatic transmission but also costs more than a base Outback, and it doesn’t come standard with all-wheel drive.
If you want to stay in the wagon class but don’t need all-wheel drive, check out the Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen. It has less cargo space than the Outback, but a more upscale interior. You can even get it with a diesel engine.
Details: 2012 Subaru Outback
The Outback is available in the following trims: the base 2.5i, 2.5i Premium, 2.5i Limited, 3.6R, 3.6R Premium and 3.6R Limited. The Outback was redesigned in 2010, and changes are minimal for 2012. As a result, this review uses research from the 2010, 2011 and 2012 model years. See full 2012 Subaru Outback specs.