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2019 Subaru Outback

$26,345 - $38,995
Price Range (MSRP)

2019 Subaru Outback Review

by Roger Biermann

The 2019 Subaru Outback is living in the future. While the car-buying public struggles to choose between crossovers, SUVs and family sedans, the Outback offers all of that in a well built, safe and capable wagon (kind off) that gives you the versatility of an SUV, the appeal of a crossover and the comfort of a traditional mid-size sedan. Why Subaru doesn’t sell more of these is a wonder, because the Outback covers so many bases, and performs well in so many aspects that it would make perfect sense that everyone should be driving one. Sadly the reality of it all is more complicated, and the Outback, despite its appeal as a multi-purpose-vehicle, still has its flaws. Subaru has done a good job of keeping the Outback, which is now a quarter of a century old, relevant and capable, and revisions to the latest model make it more appealing than ever.

What’s New For 2019?

The most notable update for 2019 is the inclusion of Subaru’s superb EyeSight Driver Assist Technology package. This suite of safety tech includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and automatic high-beam headlamps. This package was an optional extra for 2018 but now comes standard across the Outback range, making a safe car even safer. The interior gets a new overhead light in the front (we're blown away!) and a standard five-inch LCD display mounted in the dashboard. Front passengers are also blessed with two USB ports

Pros and Cons

  • It’s good at doing a bunch of things
  • Excellent visibility
  • It can actually go off-road
  • It is safer than your house
  • It retains its value
  • The base engine leaves you wanting more
  • Throttle response is touchy
  • The six-cylinder engine is thirsty

Outback Exterior

The 2019 Outback looks purposeful in its exterior design and strikes a good balance between family wagon and adventure-ready crossover thanks to a subtle yet elegant body design highlighted by rugged plastics around the front fog lights and rear bumper. So its looks match its purpose and functionality perfectly. The raised roof rails combined with 8.7 inches of ground clearance adds to the offroad-ready persona. The 2.5i Premium gets the above-mentioned fog lights, and the Limited gets bigger wheels, but the Outback looks great in any trim.

2019 Subaru Outback Three Quarter Front Right Side View
2019 Subaru Outback
2019 Subaru Outback Side View

See All 2019 Subaru Outback Exterior Photos

Dimensions

The Outback is long and tall for a quasi-wagon, and Subaru’s figures come in at 189.9/72.4/66.1 inches length/width/height (with roof rails). This makes the 2019 Outback 8.4 inches longer, 7.9 inches wider, but 2.5 inches shorter than the competing Toyota Rav4. The Outback has slightly better ground clearance but the Jeep Trailhawk beats both with 8.8 inches of clearance. The approach and departure angles of the Outback is 18.4/ 22.7 degrees, besting the RAV4’s 19 and 21 degrees. Weighing in at 3,624 lbs, the Outback isn’t a lightweight by any measure, but it carries its weight well.

Exterior Colors

Color options for the 2019 Outback reflect it’s dual personality, with sedan appropriate colors like Crystal Black Silica and Ice Silver Metallic standing in contrast to the shamelessly off road inspired Cinnamon Brown Pearl and Wilderness Green Metallic. In total, you’ll be able to choose from nine colors including Ice Silver Metallic, Magnetite Gray Metallic, Abyss Blue Pearl, and Tungsten Metallic.

  • Crystal Black Silica
  • Crimson Red Pearl
  • Cinnamon Brown Pearl
  • Tungsten Metallic
  • Wilderness Green Metallic
  • Crystal White Pearl
  • Ice Silver Metallic
  • Magnetite Gray Metallic
  • Abyss Blue Pearl

Outback Performance

The 2019 Subaru Outback will take you places that most other cars won’t, but you’ll have to be patient. The standard flat-four engine isn’t a firecracker but mated to Subaru’s CVT auto, it makes decent enough progress for a lifted station wagon, and delivers peppy acceleration in city driving conditions that can take some getting used to. For those who live at higher altitudes or like to tow big trailers or caravans, the bigger but thirstier flat-six will have to do. Still, performance isn’t atrocious, and merging onto the highway, or overtaking a semi isn't a hair-raising experience, although forethought will be required when attempting the same with a fully-loaded car.

2019 Subaru Outback Three Quarter Front Left Side View In Motion
2019 Subaru Outback Rim
2019 Subaru Outback Rim

Engine and Transmission

Subaru gives you two engines to choose from, both sticking to the brand’s tried and tested boxer layout. The first is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated unit producing 175 hp and 174 lb-ft of torque and is to be found across the Outback range as standard. The larger 3.6-liter six-cylinder pushes out a more serious 256 hp and 247 lb-ft of torque, but gulps down gas faster than you can say ‘this was a good choice’.

The flat-four should be the powerplant of choice and offers a relatively good balance of power and fuel economy, and is comparable to the RAV4’s base 2.5 four-pot that delivers 203 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, coupled to an 8-speed automatic. The bigger 3.6-liter flat-six gives a nod to those who need some extra go, but it won’t make the Outback any better when going off the beaten track. Did we mention that it's a thirsty girl? On the transmission side, you’re stuck with only one choice, but thankfully it's rather good at least in the Outback’s case. Subaru’s continuously variable transmission (CVT) does a good job of imitating a traditional automatic and mimics set shift points when you’re pushing hard. It also keeps the revs in the sweet spot that helps keep fuel consumption to a minimum. City driving at slow speeds can be a bit jerky and takes some getting used to. The Outback also comes standard with some nifty off-road tech called X-Mode, which manages the traction control system for optimal off-road grip and oversees other traction systems such as hill descent control.

  • Engines
    2.5-liter Flat 4 Gas, 3.6-liter Flat 6 Gas
  • Transmission
    Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
  • Drivetrain
    AWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The 2019 Subaru Outback was never meant to be a track day weapon but handles better than you'd expect from a glorified mud-wagon. Subaru’s cars lean towards sportier handling, and you can notice it when driving the Outback. Although a bit vague when on center, the steering feels precise and turn-in is good, and the steering wheel loads up with medium to strong feel. As mentioned, the Outback wasn't designed to hit the apex perfectly, and you’ll notice the tires starting to give sway when you’re pushing it hard through the corners, with the softly sprung suspension causing a fair amount of body lean, but again, nothing comes as a surprise, and the handling remains predictable. The combination of a suspension setup with more travel than the average car mated with a lower center of gravity makes it accomplished at going around twisty bits better than its competitors. The standard all-wheel-drive helps the Outback on and off the road and with the X-Mode enabled, the Outback makes short work of light trails.

Outback Gas Mileage

Subaru claims a fuel consumption number of 25/32/29 mpg city/highway/combined for the 2.5 flat-four engine and 20/27/24 mpg for the 3.6-liter flat-six. You can take those numbers with a pinch of salt, especially in the case of the big six, that’ll most likely see numbers under twenty in real-world driving conditions. The 2.5 flat-four is the darling of the range in terms of getting good gas mileage and is comparable to the Rav4’s 25/33/28 mpg. The 3.6-liter flat-six does slightly better than the Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk’s 20/29/23 mpg. All models make use of an 18.5-gallon gas tank, so 2.5i variants should manage an approximate range of 536 miles in mixed conditions.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 25/32 mpg
* 2019 Subaru Outback 2.5i AWD

Outback Interior

With six trim levels to choose from, prospective buyers will be able to find the perfect balance of comfort and functionality, and even in base 2.5i form, the interior of the Outback is definitely a nice place to be. Subaru has gone to great lengths to make the Outback feel as premium as possible. Functionality is the name of the game, however, and Subaru has done a great job of designing a clean-looking dashboard with clear instrumentation combined with soft-touch materials and French stitching on the seats and dash, to create a warm and welcoming interior. The cloth seats found in the base trim feel durable and suits the Outback’s rugged persona, though the upper-trim seats make you feel like you’re driving something more expensive. Improved sound deadening and laminated side glass delivers a tranquil driving experience.

2019 Subaru Outback Seat Leather Stitching
2019 Subaru Outback Central Console Navigation System
2019 Subaru Outback Driver And Passengers Seats

See All 2019 Subaru Outback Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

Part family car, part off-road adventure vehicle, the 2019 Outback takes the well-blended exterior design and tastefully transfers it to the interior. The 2019 Subaru Outback will seat five adults with ease and offers ample legroom and headspace in the front and back. The Outback’s seats offer enough lumbar and side support without being overly sporty and should prove comfortable over long hauls. Important controls for the air conditioning, infotainment system, and hazard signal are all placed in a compact but ergonomic fashion, and everything the driver would want to control is within easy reach and is a cinch to operate.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The Outback comes with a choice of two seat upholstery options; the clean-looking Slate Black Cloth, and the Warm Ivory Cloth that seems to date the car, no matter the exterior color choice. Headliner and floor carpeting are of good quality and the floor mats will take muddied boot prints in their stride. Subaru offers a few nice-to-have interior options that include a leather upholstered 10-way power driver’s seat with memory function, a powered moonroof that improves upon the Outback’s already airy interior space and for the more adventurous, a All-Weather package with heated front and rear seats for when the ski-lift is out of service but you want to hit the powder when it’s still fresh.

Outback Trunk and Cargo Space

Thanks to it’s lengthened wagon design, the Outback offers a competent amount of trunk and cargo space that, according to Subaru, measures in at 35.5 cubic feet, growing to a sizeable 73.3 with the rear reclining 60/40-split flat-folding seatbacks folded down. Compared to the Buick Regal Tour X Wagon’s 32.7 cubic feet, you’ll soon realize that the Outback is a rather roomy automobile. You’ll find even more storage space when you sniff around the interior. The Outback has eight cup and bottle holders, an overhead console with storage space for sunglasses, a decently sized center console, retractable/removable cargo-area cover, two cargo-area grocery bag hooks and four cargo tie-down hooks, cargo-area underfloor storage, and a removable cargo-area tray. So basically there’s enough space for five people to have a great weekend in the wild.

2019 Subaru Outback Trunk Space with Seat Folded
2019 Subaru Outback
2019 Subaru Outback

Outback Infotainment and Features

Features

The 2019 Outback sees new features creep onto the list. From small things like noise-reducing laminated front side glass and aerodynamic side mirrors that help make the ride as quiet as it is comfortable, to Subaru’s excellent StarLink Multimedia system that offers class-leading in-car entertainment and assistance. A power rear gate with key fob or dash activation can be adjusted for when clearance is an issue. An adjustable power driver's seat comes as an added option.

Infotainment

Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system is truly class-leading and feels seamless in operation and integration. The system offers advanced connectivity through Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Pandora. StarLink Apps allow you to access news, navigation, music, podcasts, and more. Voice commands allow you to control features such as navigation, entertainment, phone calls, and climate control. The base model gets a six-inch screen and four speakers that deliver a clean and enjoyable sonic experience, but the uprated eight-inch display with six-speaker sound system, offered in the Premium and Limited trim packages, is where it’s at. For those who’re really serious about their in-car entertainment, Subaru offers an optional Harman Kardon sound upgrade that includes a 576-watt-equivalent GreenEdge amplifier and 12 speakers.

Outback Problems and Reliability

Subaru issued two major recalls for the Outback in the past three years. The most notable was made in 2018 when Subaru USA issued a mass recall on a wide range of their vehicles, including the 2009-2013 Outback. The reason behind the recall was defective Takata branded airbags that would scatter sharp metal fragments upon deployment, that could seriously injure the occupants of the vehicle. In 2017, Subaru issued a recall affecting 2016-2017 Outbacks. The reason for the recall was a defective steering column that could malfunction and cause complete loss of steering control. These recalls have been thoroughly dealt with, and the Outback scores high marks for reliability by owners. Edmunds consumer reviews give the Outback an owner satisfaction score of four out of five. A reliability score from J.D. Power is not yet available. The Outback is backed by a basic three year, 36,000-mile warranty.

Outback Safety

Subaru builds some of the safest cars on American roads, and the Outback continues with this trend. The NHTSA awarded the 2019 Outback a perfect overall score, and the IIHS bestowed the Outback with its coveted Top Safety Pick+ award, making it one of the safest cars you can buy in America.

Key Safety Features

The Outback is a seriously safe car and it’s clear that Subaru has spent most of its time focusing on this department. The list of safety features is extensive but is absolutely worth mentioning. The Outback range comes standard with Subaru’s class-leading symmetrical all-wheel-drive system and EyeSight driver assist technology that features life-saving technology such as adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure and sway warning, and lane-keep assist. Other standard safety features include: vehicle dynamics control, a 4-wheel anti-lock braking system, brake assist and brake override system, traction control, tire pressure monitoring, LED daytime running lights, and a rear-vision camera (high-resolution). Premium trim models and upward get the option of blind-spot detection with lane change assist and rear cross-traffic alert, high beam assist (HBA) and reverse automatic braking.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Subaru Outback a good car?

The 2019 Subaru Outback sits in a unique position, offering the car-buying public a relatively affordable crossover SUV that's really a station wagon, but drives better than a traditional SUV and offers SUV levels of cargo space and passenger room, but sips fuel like a regular family car. Sounds confusing right? It’s actually very simple; the Outback is a practical people carrier and is quite capable off road, but still delivers the handling and comfort of a pure road-going car. The standard features list won’t blow you away, nor will the engines, but the overall package is just too good to ignore.

What's the Price of the 2019 Subaru Outback?

The base 2019 Outback has an MSRP of $26,345. The 2.5i Premium goes for an MSRP of $28,445; the 2.5i Limited starts at $32,845; the 2.5i Touring will set you back $36,795; and the more powerful 3.6R Limited costs $34,995. These prices exclude tax, registration, license and a $975 destination fee. The Outback represents good value for money when taking into consideration that is one of the safest and most capable off-road crossovers on the market. Ford’s Escape starts at an MSRP of $24,105, over two grand less than the Outback, but fails to match the Outback in terms of safety and off-road capability. An interesting option could be the 2019 VW Golf Alltrack, which starts at an MSRP of $26,895.

2019 Subaru Outback Models

You can have the Outback in six different trim levels, all of which come with the same CVT auto trans and 2.5-liter boxer engine (a 3.6 six-cylinder is also available). The entire range benefits from Subaru’s excellent EyeSight safety tech package as well as its Starlink Infotainment system.

The base 2.5i Outback’s key features are symmetrical all-wheel drive, pre-collision safety systems, trick electronic torque vectoring and 8.7 inches of useful ground clearance. Subaru’s Starlink Multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will keep the occupants entertained. For added utility, you get raised roof rails with integrated crossbars.

The 2.5i Premium’s key features include blind-spot detection, a ten-way power-adjustable and heated driver's seat, fog lights, automatic climate control, and windshield wiper de-icer, while the interior benefits from the addition of a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter handle.

The 2.5i Limited adds leather-trimmed upholstery and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system for added interior luxury while the wheels grow in size to 18-inch alloys. The

All-Weather Package is also included and will see your cold bits get some love thanks to heated front and rear seats. Accessibility is also improved thanks to keyless access with push-button start and a power rear gate.

The 2.5i Touring gets all the bits that make a road trip even better, and features an exclusive Java Brown Leather-trimmed upholstery matched with a heated steering wheel, GPS navigation,

LED steering responsive headlights, a cool looking moonroof, and sleeker roof rails.

The 3.6 liter flat-six engined Outback comes in two trim levels, the first being the 3.6R Limited that’s basically a 2.5i Limited with a bigger engine. The 3.6R Touring adds the exclusive Java Brown Leather-trimmed upholstery, low-profile roof rails, a heated steering wheel, GPS navigation, and a power moonroof.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.5i
2.5-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All Wheel Drive
$26,345
2.5i Premium
2.5-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All Wheel Drive
$28,445
2.5i Limited
2.5-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All Wheel Drive
$32,845
3.6R Limited
3.6-liter Flat 6 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All Wheel Drive
$34,995
2.5i Touring
2.5-liter Flat 4 Gas
Continuously Variable Automatic (CVT)
All Wheel Drive
$36,795

See All 2019 Subaru Outback Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

The entire range gets the same exterior and interior options, the most notable being auto-dimming exterior mirrors at $200, a fog light kit for $333, an auto-dimming mirror with compass and HomeLink for $330, and remote engine start for $489.

The EyeSight package adds a whole host of added tech and is worth considering if you want to make your Outback as safe as possible. This $1,595 option will add an 8-inch LCD touchscreen, GPS navigation, SiriusXM NavTraffic (subscription required), the excellent EyeSight system featuring adaptive cruise control, pre-collision braking, lane departure, and sway warning functions, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and HomeLink, high beam assist headlights, reverse automatic braking system, and a high-grade instrument cluster with color LCD display.

What Subaru Outback Model Should I Buy?

The best bang for your buck will be the 2.5i Premium. It adds the upgraded eight-inch Starlink infotainment system with added speakers, climate control and power adjustable seats (they’re heated as well). The 2.5i Premium is competitively priced, and lives alongside its rivals the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, but offers a more competent AWD system and better tech as standard. The engine and gearbox combination isn’t class-leading, but the 2.5-liter flat-four will do fine if you’re not planning on towing something heavy. The biggest selling point however will be a long list of safety features and the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award.

2019 Subaru Outback Comparisons

2019 Subaru Outback vs Subaru Forester

Subaru’s range of crossover vehicles can get blurry at times, and most Subaru salesmen will tell you that one of the most frequently asked questions is "should I get the Outback or Forester, or maybe the Crosstrek?”. Differences between the Outback and Forester will be clear enough for people who know the lineup, but in essence, the Outback is more of a family-sized station wagon, while the Forester is categorized as a compact crossover or SUV. The Outback is available with either a 2.5-liter four-cylinder boxer motor pushing out 175 hp or a 3.6-liter six-cylinder boxer motor that produces 256 hp. The Forester is powered by the same 2.5-liter engine, but in a different state of tune, and produces 185 hp. Both are comparably equipped and boast Subaru’s class-leading safety tech. The Outback is a visibly longer car and offers more interior space than the Forester and is better suited to larger families, whereas the Forester will work perfectly for single couples and smaller families. The Forester’s higher roof gives it more practical cargo space. The 2019 Outback starts at an MSRP of $26,345 while a base model Forester starts at $24,295. The Outback is, however, more refined and caters to an audience seeking something more sophisticated, while the Forester feels cheaper and more rugged.

See Subaru Forester Review

2019 Subaru Outback vs Mazda CX-5

The 2019 Mazda CX-5 is a more stylish alternative to the Outback, as Mazda has been designing some seriously good looking cars in the last decade or so. It will appeal to those who are looking for a crossover that looks more streetcar than SUV and that thread proceeds to sew its way throughout the rest of the car, especially when it comes to the CX-5’s road-holding capabilities; it feels like a normal road car and is surprisingly fun to drive. The CX-5 is powered by a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 187 hp in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring trim, comparable to the Outback’s 2.5-liter boxer engine. A 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 250 hp can be found in the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature models. Downsides include much smaller cargo space, an infotainment system that’s not on par with that of the Outback, and a space saver wheel (gross). The Outback will comfortably outdo the CX-5 when it comes to driving over rough terrain. The base model CX-5 starts at $24,350 MSRP plus $1,045 destination charge excluding taxes, title and license fees. The decision on which to buy comes down to needs - as the CX-5 is a compact city-slicker, while the Outback is a spacious adventure-mobile.

See Mazda CX-5 Review

Subaru Outback Popular Comparisons

See All 34 Comparisons

2019 Subaru Outback Video Review