2022 Subaru Outback

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2022 Subaru Outback Test Drive Review: Off The Beaten Track

If ever there was one model that could save an entire genre, it's the Subaru Outback. Some say wagons don't sell in the United States. Subaru begs to differ. While the body shape accounts for a miniscule 1.4 percent of the overall US car market, a whopping 85 percent of the volume comes from just one model, the Outback. By lifting the suspension, tacking on some body cladding, and marketing it as a pseudo-SUV, Subaru has managed to enter the cheat code on how to sell wagons, and the Outback formula just continues to improve.

Built on the same Subaru Global Platform that debuted last year on the Legacy sedan, the new Outback sees improvements to its steering response, ride comfort, and handling. There's also more technology inside, including a massive 11.6-inch touchscreen display. The 2022 Subaru Outback loosely competes with compact SUVs like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but due to its wagon shape, offers a completely unique style. Two engine choices are available, including a 260-horsepower turbocharged 2.4-liter Boxer four, but in true Subaru tradition, every model gets standard AWD. We spent a week-long test drive with a Subaru Outback Onyx Edition XT packing the more powerful engine to find out what makes this the most popular wagon in America.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 9 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 10 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 10 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 10 /10
9.1
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2022 Subaru Outback Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2021 Subaru Outback?

If anyone ever said a wagon couldn't go off-road, the 2022 Subaru Outback lineup aims to dispel that myth with the addition of a new trim called the Outback Wilderness. This features greater ground clearance, unique style, all-terrain tires, and suspension geared for better off-road handling. The interior gets water-repellent upholstery.

Elsewhere in the range, all models now get LED fog lights and the Premium trim gets rear air vents.

Pros and Cons

  • Surprisingly capable off-roader
  • Lots of interior space
  • Solid safety record
  • Lots of standard tech
  • Drives better than ever
  • Not the most exciting exterior styling
  • Lackluster performance from the base engine
  • CVT feels rubbery
  • Less vertical space than some crossovers
  • Infotainment is a little sluggish

Best Deals on 2022 Subaru Outback

2022 Subaru Outback Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
Base
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$27,645
Premium
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$29,845
Limited
2.5L Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$34,295
Onyx Edition XT
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$35,845
WILDERNESS
2.4L Turbo Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All-Wheel Drive
$37,695
See All 2022 Subaru Outback Trims and Specs

2022 Subaru Outback Handling and Driving Impressions

Like its Legacy sibling, the Outback rides on Subaru's new Global Platform. This architecture is stiffer and offers more structural rigidity, both of which aid in steering response, ride comfort, and handling. When you first set off, the Outback may surprise you with its accurate steering, which feels more car-like than SUV-like. Ride comfort is generally excellent, though we felt that the Legacy in its Limited XT form was far quieter in the cabin. We were also pretty surprised by the handling which, despite a fair bit of body roll, felt pretty car-like.

Subaru seems to have a knack for building cars that drive better than they look from the outside. The Outback is no sports car, but it feels far from dull. Subaru's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive system grips the road like a vice and uses brake-based torque vectoring to motivate the car around corners. An X-Mode allows drivers to drive through heavy snow or mode, and even features hill descent control in case you approach a steep decline. This mode has been recalibrated in the Wilderness model, deploying even more low-end grunt to make the most of the all-terrain tires and off-road suspension, giving it some serious off-road clout despite lacking a low range transfer case.

The Outback won't impress Jeep owners, but average consumers who live in snowy climates will be more than satisfied.

Verdict: Is the New Subaru Outback A Good car?

A comparison between the new Subaru Outback and its competitors proves to be a tricky task because it is so unlike any other crossover or SUV sold today. Though it has a raised ride height, the Outback looks and feels like a wagon, which should appeal to buyers looking for a more car-like driving experience. Subaru's new Global Platform has improved the Outback's handling tremendously, and the changes should impress buyers who are expecting a dull feel from behind the wheel.

Subaru managed to price the Outback above, but surprisingly close to popular crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4. Those crossovers present a very different curb appeal than the Outback, which aims for a more rugged outdoorsy vibe. With plenty of ground clearance, standard AWD, excellent road manners, and tons of technology, the Subaru Outback proves why a wagon can be as good as a crossover. If you are looking for something with looks that are off the beaten path and can drive off it too, the Outback is an excellent choice.

2022 Subaru Outback Comparisons

Honda CR-V CarBuzz
Toyota RAV4

2022 Subaru Outback vs Honda CR-V

The compact crossover SUV market is filled with extremely capable cars, and the Honda CR-V is one of the best out there. A recent redesign has seen this SUV up its game in a big way. Under the hood of the CR-V, you will find a lively 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 190 hp and 179 lb-ft of torque. This places the CR-V precisely in the middle of the Outback's 2.5-liter and turbocharged 2.4-liter options. The CR-V will return fuel economy figures of 27/32/29 mpg in AWD guise, which is right around the same figures as the Subaru. On the road, the CR-V is comfortable to drive but its taller construction makes it less engaging to drive. It's also not as capable off-road as the Subaru is, especially in Wilderness trim.

On the inside, the CR-V offers a premium experience and exudes Honda's legendary build quality, but the most notable feature is the abundance of space, both in the front and back. The CR-V swallows more cargo behind its rear seats than the Outback, but the overall capacity provided by both is remarkably close. In terms of features, the two cars are closely matched and are both as safe as houses. So which is better? Well the CR-V is arguably more comfortable and luxurious and has a better infotainment system, even if it is smaller. But the Outback drives better, is more capable, more rugged, and loses out on very little. We believe the wagon deserves to be saved, and what better way to start than by buying the Outback.

See Honda CR-V Review

2022 Subaru Outback vs Toyota RAV4

The RAV4 dominates the world of subcompact SUVs with sales figures of over half a million cars annually and provides a trusted ownership experience. Powered by a naturally-aspirated 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 produces 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, placing it between the 2.5-liter and turbocharged 2.4-liter engines on offer in the Outback. Power is sent to either the front or all four wheels via an automatic transmission. The most economical model will return 28/35/30 mpg city/highway/combined, which is marginally better than the Outback, but the RAV4 can be had in hybrid or plug-in hybrid Prime forms which deliver both better gas mileage and stellar performance. On the road, the RAV4 is comfortable enough, but the Outback feels more car-like in the way it rides and handles. Both are relatively well-matched off-road, and both can tow similar amounts, but in Wilderness form, we'd trust the Outback off the beaten track a little more.

Passenger space is on par with the Outback, and behind the rear seats, you get more trunk space, but with the rear seats folded down, the Outback reverses these roles. The Subaru has more to offer in terms of features in the base configuration, but the Toyota provides an equally impressive standard safety suite. Starting at $25,850, the RAV4 is an attractive proposition for less money with arguably better reliability, but we feel that for a little more money, a mid-spec Outback is a more complete package, even if it lacks the sales success.

See Toyota RAV4 Review

2022 Subaru Outback Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2022 Subaru Outback:

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2022 Subaru Outback Video Review

Check out some informative Subaru Outback video reviews below.

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