Subaru Outback Performance
Test drivers say the 2014 Subaru Outback’s base four-cylinder engine delivers adequate power, but they think the six-cylinder is better for highway passing. Reviewers also say the Outback has a comfortable, car-like ride and a sure-footed all-wheel drive system.
- "Outbacks are known for their cargo space and dexterity in the dirt, but they've always been held in equal regard for their excellent manners on paved roads." -- Edmunds
- "The Outback might not win any personality awards, especially when compared to Subaru's resident wild child, the rally-bred Impreza WRX STi. But it delivered comfortable, capable performance during our test at North Carolina's Outer Banks." -- AutoTrader
- "Few vehicles on the market can equal the Subaru Outback's ability to conquer tough terrain while simultaneously delivering carlike fuel economy." -- Kelley Blue Book (2013)
Acceleration and Power
The 2014 Subaru Outback 2.5i comes with a 173-horsepower, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is optional on the 2.5i and 2.5i Premium, and standard on the 2.5i Limited. The 3.6R Limited has a 256-horespower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine that’s paired with a five-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5i model with the CVT delivers the best fuel economy in the Outback lineup at an EPA-estimated 24/30 mpg city/highway. The 3.6R Limited gets 17/25 mpg city/highway.
Reviewers agree that the four-cylinder engine provides adequate power, and they appreciate the four-cylinder model’s fuel economy. Automotive journalists say that the CVT operates smoothly. Test drivers think the power provided by the six-cylinder engine makes passing cars on the highway and carrying heavy loads a lot easier than with the four-cylinder. One reviewer wishes the six-cylinder’s five-speed automatic transmission came with an extra gear to improve acceleration.
- "Though it saw a broader torque curve improvement last year, the 2.5i still feels somewhat stressed hustling its 3,400-lb curb mass with only 173 hp at hand. The 3.6i model's power-to-weight ratio makes it more manageable in day-to-day passing and acceleration duties. But the 2.5i model's CVT deserves props for its smooth operation and uninterrupted flow of power. And on a similar note, it's a shame the 3.6i is only available with a 5-speed, as an extra gear would help optimize its acceleration and take advantage of everything the engine has to offer." -- AutoTrader
- "The 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine delivers adequate performance and respectable fuel economy with either the six-speed manual or the CVT. It's a good choice if your primary concern is fuel economy. But if you live in the mountains or frequently haul full loads of passengers or cargo in your Outback, you'll be better served by the six-cylinder." -- Edmunds
- "If fuel economy takes precedent over quick acceleration, the 2013 Subaru Outback's 2.5-liter four with the continuously variable transmission (CVT) is your best bet. The 173-horsepower engine has to work a bit but, once up to speed, the CVT finds and holds the engine's peak torque, providing a good balance of response and efficiency." -- Kelley Blue Book
Handling and Braking
Test drivers think the Outback has balanced handling and a comfortable ride, which they say makes it a good family car. Reviewers say that the Outback has accurate steering. The Outback somes standard with all-wheel drive.
- "On the road, the Outback demonstrates an impressive sedan-like feel, in part because the low center of gravity of its powertrain more than offsets its tall bodywork. Steering is precise and predictable, and only some slight wind noise intrudes on the reasonably quiet ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Since every Subaru Outback comes standard with all-wheel drive and boasts a generous 8.7 inches of ground clearance, it's one of the most capable crossovers off-road. You won't be able to follow a caravan of Jeeps up the Rubicon Trail, but dirt trails, snowy mountain passes or muddy country roads won't stop this Subaru wagon." -- Edmunds
- "Outback is always controlled, never harsh, and more comfortable than many family sedans and nearly any similarly sized SUV. Larger bumps are felt, but Outback's compliant suspension and stout body structure work together so occupants aren't jostled." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
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